Update: Around 1:10pm ET (7 Jan 2019), five hours after the announcement of Ali Alexander’s Twitter suspension, verified sources confirmed that the Twitter account of Ali Alexander had been restored. Updates to follow as the story progresses.
n a surprise morning broadcast over Periscope, the conservative influencer and GOP consultant, Ali Alexander, announced to his audience via Periscope that without warning, he was permanently banned from using Twitter and that his account of around seventy-two thousand followers and his Twitter page would be shut down for the foreseeable future – unless Twitter decides otherwise.
“I am permanently suspended from Twitter” Alexander stated, elaborating that he only realized his account had been suspended upon waking up this morning to a barrage of texts and voicemails asking him where his account went. He stated that last night he still had access to his Twitter fan base ,but upon attempting to log onto his account this morning he discovered that Twitter had in fact permanently suspended his account for violating the “terms of service agreement.”
“I reviewed what they permanently suspended me for and I’m being respectful of the process” he continued, taking the stance that “I didn’t violate the terms of service, I have never violated the terms of service.” Upon communicating with Twitter via email, he did review the violation notice (he did not disclose what the specific violation was), but after looking into it further he continued to stand by his defense claiming that Twitter “stretched the terms of service to get me banned” and that “I didn’t violate the terms of service, I have never violated the terms of service.” Twitter didn’t stop at just his personal account; however, they also locked his access to other accounts such as the media page @cultttture for which he was the lead consultant.
Over the past two years, Twitter has waged a silent war against conservative and libertarian pundits and figures on their platform, from shadowbanning (the mass removal of a large number of followers) to “unverifying” accounts (removing the blue, verified checkmark), and the outright banning of users without warning.
In August of 2018, a coordinated de-platforming campaign was waged against conspiracy provocateur Alex Jones. Jones and his site – InfoWars – were removed from YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, and a large number of other prominent platforms. As a counter, InfoWars published an app which was uploaded to Google Play and the Apple App store, shooting up to one of the top downloaded apps in the world as supporters flocked to support Jones’ cause. Within a month of the app launch, however, Apple banned the app without rhyme or reason.
Right around the 2018 midterms, Twitter suspended a slew of other conservative accounts such as Michael Knowles of the Daily Wire (though his account was reinstated sometime later after a backlash from supporters) and radio host Jesse Kelly. The Twitter platform has become so volatile and hostile towards conservatives that it led many users deciding to just outright abandon the platform. Law professor and USA Today columnist Glenn Reynolds published on his Instapundit blog that he had decided to shut down his account in protest and that Twitter had become “the most socially destructive of the various platforms.”
While Kelly eventually received a pardon from Twitter almost a month later, the social media platform didn’t exactly stop with similar treatment of right-wing public figures. About a week after Kelly’s incident, Twitter banned independent journalist Laura Loomer (who was also banned on GoFundMe and just this past week, on PayPal as well). Ali Alexander and Loomer may have joined the list of other banned conservatives including comedian Owen Benjamin, but with cases like Jesse Kelly, Michael Knowles, and CRTV host Steven Crowder, this “permanent” ban can be lifted with the push of a button by Twitter.
The issue of social media censorship has split supporters of free markets and private property, with beltway libertarians such as Robby Soave of Reason Magazine telling those outraged by Twitter’s actions to get over it essentially. In an article Soave published regarding the Jesse Kelly ban, Soave stated “Kelly hasn’t engaged in the kind of targeted harassment or direct advocacy of violence that should earn a rebuke from the platform. And if he has, Twitter should point it out. I say should, because this free service is not obligated to humor its conservative users’ desire for transparency and fairness, no matter how loudly they complain.”
others have taken the stance that the social media giants’ (Facebook included) control over the online social media market has placed them in the category of a virtual monopoly. While there are competitors out there, the social media giants have worked with Google, internet providers, and payment processors like PayPal to corner and control the market.
Minds, a blockchain-based alternative social media network had its search results hidden by Google for an undetermined length of time, thus making it extremely difficult for potential users to find the site. The Twitter alternative known as Gab has had its own misfortune as being labeled a haven for the alt-right, and in recent months had its domain pulled and payment processing capabilities killed as well. Sites like Parlor popped up within the last month, but like its explicit conservative predecessors Codias and Freetalk 24, it acts as more of a protest platform and less of a competitor in the online social media market.
“Twitter I hope makes a correction,” Alexander said towards the conclusion of his Periscope live stream, going on to joke around saying “congratulations to all my enemies” who had previously tried to lock or suspend his account.