Twitter Suspends YouTube Phenom PewDiePie For Making A Stupid ISIS Joke

from the giant-circle-of-stupidity dept

Most of the time, you can say pretty much whatever you’d like on Twitter without the company actually bothering to enforce its harassment and online abuse policies. Think it’s funny to threaten to rape somebody? Twitter this week informed Medium software engineer Kelly Ellis this was perfectly ok. Want to hurl racist threats like a lobotomized halfwit? Cool! Is flinging anti-semitic insults more your cup of tea? No problem! Over the last year, you’d be hard pressed to find somebody not talking about how inconsistent and arbitrary Twitter’s ban hammer is.

Swedish YouTube phenom PewDiePie found this out the hard way this week after his account — followed by 47 million Twitter users — suddenly up and disappeared briefly from the social networking service without explanation:

Well, not entirely. According to one of his videos he unverified his own account to protest the admitted pointlessness of the verified process, which itself is often arbitrary.

But before that video explanation was posted, a parody Sky News account (unverified, for whatever it’s worth) proclaimed that the Youtube star had been unverified because he joined ISIS:

That in turn resulted in the “star” making the joke that he’d joined the violent extremist group (has this gotten stupid yet or is it just me?):

All told, it’s believed this Tweet, possibly combined with the parody reference, somehow triggered the suspension at Twitter, which speaks volumes about Twitter’s threshold for suspension as it tries to crack down on ISIS’ influence on social media. Last month Twitter proclaimed it had shut down 360,000 Twitter accounts for being tied to terrorism, but this latest flub again raises questions about whether the company actually has a solid handle on what it’s doing.

Twitter refuses to comment on this or any of its other seemingly-drunk enforcement behaviors, but the company’s inconsistency on this front has been on proud display for some time, and the message being sent is anything but clear. Something about how it’s ok to threaten to rape and kill women and people of color, but don’t joke about ISIS, and whatever you do — don’t post animated gifs of the Olympics:

If Twitter doesn’t want to begin rivaling some of the great arbitrary shitshows of our age (like oh, Apple’s app store approval process) the company needs to get ahead of the problem quickly. Sources told Bloomberg last week that the company was consulting with “an outside council of anti-harassment groups” as it experiments with keyword filters the company hopes gives users more control of violent vitriol aimed in their direction. It also hopes to offer an announcement on improvements to its harassment policy and enforcement.

In the interim, to be safe, you may just want to avoid humor entirely.

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Comments on “Twitter Suspends YouTube Phenom PewDiePie For Making A Stupid ISIS Joke”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Yea... yea...

hey, I can admit that I am whining about the whiners… wist they would quit their bellyaching.

The real problem is that these whiners will vote in politicians that will remove more liberty as part of their solution and then turn around and blame something that does not exist as the cause of the problem. The ignorant sheeple buy this shit all the time.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Yea... yea...

If you don’t like it, move to another platform.

OK, I want you to imagine you’re asking the people at Twitter a question. It’s a simple question, it goes like this: “When users of your platform – including huge ones like PewDiePie – are unhappy about something, would you prefer they talk about it and lodge complaints when necessary, or would you prefer them to immediately bail on the platform entirely because they ‘can’t do jack shit’?”

Which do you think Twitter would choose?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Yea... yea...

ah… moving to another platform is better.

Just make sure they know why you are moving. Businesses only understand lessons that hit them in the pocket book. Now, if people were really able to stick to their guns everyone would move off the platform can destroy the business. Once that happens a couple of time businesses with fucking take note. It’s called making an example, but hell… Like I said in a different post, good luck with that. People are too lazy for fight, they just want someone else to take care of them and to give them things.

Machin Shin (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Yea... yea...

Your wrong in your thoughts that we can’t do shit. We can be very vocal in our complaints. This might not be much, but it does at least give the company a chance to listen to people and change.

Then we still have the option of going somewhere else, but if we just silently move to other systems we rob them of the chance to know why we left and fix it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Yea... yea...

Keep in mind, a lot more than just a couple will have to do it to work.

Good luck getting the American People to participate in a boycott though… we hate the concept of free market controls in America. All we care to do is cry like babies and expect someone in authority to fix the problem.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Yea... yea...

you are saying is that you can either try to speak where people gather, or shout in the wilderness where nobody hears you..

GNU Social is a thing. It can be a bit complicated picking the right server(there’s a mountain of them), but it’s “federated” like email, so you can still talk to somebody if they’re on another instance.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re: Yea... yea...

there are at least several problems with that:
1. what was formerly the province of public commons is now becoming privatized; what to do when there is NO public space left and it is all effectively controlled by the korporatocracy ?
2. i know it is a joke that tells itself, but we should expect our korporate overlords to adhere to basic morality and fairness, REGARDLESS of what the law allows; like i said, what a joke, right ?
3. i am HIGHLY skeptical of bright-line rules: they ALWAYS end up not covering enough of whatever ‘bad’ stuff crazy nekkid apes are trying to stop, and then end up being extended far beyond their usefulness… how about we just use simple good judgement ? is there any of that left any more ?
4. again, a quaint concept, but SUPPOSEDLY korporations -besides a LIMITED, time-specific charter- ALSO had to perform some public good in the actual production of their bidness, NOT just make widgets at a profit… why can’t we have an expectation they will do so -and, for example, protect everyone’s free speech rights- with such a widely used medium, REGARDLESS of whether it is ‘private’ ? it is OUR public charter which gave them the korporate super-powers they enjoy, why DON’T we get some benefit ?

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Yea... yea...

Well, you can still choose what to spend your money on, right up until the government passes a law requiring you to buy something or else be ‘taxed’ for the same amount.

Of course, the joke is on the government in the one existing example of that, since the rising cost of ‘affordable’ insurance has actually made the ‘tax’ the cheaper option for many people.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m still amazed at how Twitter seems to not grasp simple ideas on how to improve the Twitter experience. The Buzzfeed story a few weeks back that painted top Twitter execs as hardline free speech supporters shows that even Twitter misunderstands the fundamental principle of that right: You have the right to speak your mind, but you are not entitled to an audience or a platform.

And that misunderstanding gets to the core of why Twitter has fallen so far behind in dealing with harassment. The top brass think the “speech” espoused by trolls and racists and harassers must be forced upon those who don’t wish to see it—and if they don’t explicitly think that way, the lack of tools necessary for end users to prevent that speech from reaching them proves it is an implicit principle at the core of Twitter.

Wordfilters would help, and I’m amazed they haven’t come into play before now. (They’d certainly help with the spambots.) Controls for whose notifications you see, who can see your tweets (with or without an account), and time-based controls for who can follow, reply to, and message you (e.g., you can block notifications from accounts less than a month old) would do wonders for helping users curate their timelines and notifications. And none of those controls would deny Twitter users their voice—it would just deny them the ability to force everyone else into listening.

I get that the scale of Twitter means such controls would take some time to develop and ultimately deploy. My question is this: Why did it take Twitter until over a year ago to even consider wordfilters, and why has it taken over a year for them to develop a wordfilter system?

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

So you’re saying that if I were to find out where you live, and park a sound system van outside your house at 3 am, you’d be totally in favor of me bombarding you with speech you dislike because you are in favor of ZERO censorship?

There’s a critical difference between stopping someone from speaking and being able to opt out of listening.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

If you want to stand on a street corner and yell about, say, God hating gay people, you’re allowed to do that. What you can’t do is grab someone walking by that street corner and force them into listening to you yell about God. By the same token, someone choosing to ignore your speech by walking right by you does nothing to prevent you from speaking, just like someone blocking you on Twitter doesn’t prevent you from sending tweets.

If you think a potential audience choosing to ignore you is tantamount to censorship, you have made a grave error in judgment.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Parent AC has it completely backwards. Twitter has not “fallen behind” in harassment. It has had the harassers and trolls on its moderation staff for at least two years and has been banning normies for complaining about it. Twitter has gone as far as to change its algorithms to suppress people talking about how bad things are over there as if they’re Communist China.

The tools to block trolls already exist. There is the block button. If someone continues harassment, there is the police department.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Great Idea for terrorist names

The next terrorist group should be the REPUBLICAN and the DEMOCRAT….

REPUBLICAN is obviously an acronym for Really Evil People United By Logic, Intelligence, Charisma, and Narcisism

DEMOCRAT is Decidedly Evil Men Overreacting Creating Really Atrocious Tratiors

Just imagine a world without republican/democratic advertising….

Why didn’t anyone think of this before?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Great Idea for terrorist names

That’s good stuff, but you may have given Republicans too much credit with the Intelligence part.

George Washington said it best.

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

So very few people even know how great our First President ever was!

Anonymous Coward says:

Want to hurl racist threats like a lobotomized halfwit? Cool! Is flinging anti-semitic insults more your cup of tea? No problem!


“Lord have mercy…white people shit”
“ok you white girls are starting to look alike like a mutherfucka.”
“Yo them dudes with the curls on the side of they head does that make them more Jewish? For real I need to know”

didn’t get Leslie Jones banned. Awesome!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I think it is better to leave everyone opinions on display.

The idea of taking something down because it hurts someone’s feeling is about the worst possible excuse for removing something.

Sometimes there is just no way to tell someone they are fucking nuts without indirectly or just directly insulting them. People just need to understand… life is a bitch, and all the people around you are bitches too! And that mug you see in the mirror? Yep… bitch as well.

We absolutely must have discourse to survive as a society and that includes the pain that goes with it. Suppressing people speech because it is hurtful is the same as asking married couples to never have a problem because you can never talk about them!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It should be obvious that Leslie Jones didn’t get banned — while her critics most certainly did — because Sony had sunk $300 million into the movie she starred in. Twitter is simply protecting an expensive property.

It’s the same reason why trash-talking recording artists who sign multi-year/multi-million dollar contracts also get a free ride on Twitter.

Don’t expect any kind of “fairness” — money talks on Twitter.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Twitter bans always seem to be based on optics, rather than the actual issues.

Isis is a hot button, so boom ban first figure it out later.
Racist content, well if they offend a big enough star we can do something.
Rape threats, they are just idle threats… unless you are important enough.

I remember looking at some of the ‘experts’ Twitter wanted to use to help them sort this out and it was a long list of people who were upset at everything… unless they were the one making the comments.

Twitter isn’t even sure what their platform is for. They are so focused on keeping stars & power players happy while ignoring the other 99.99% of their user base.
We built stars a special client that lets them filter out junk tweets.
We add a mark so you know they are the real person (or their staff).

You managed to piss off the right block of people, and are getting 1000 tweets every 10 minutes… nothing we can do. Someone keeps making up new accounts & sending you the same threats over and over after you complain for the 40th time and we finally suspend them… oh well.

But hey, we killed a feature most of you liked so we can all share moments…

Arbitrarily Banned for the 666th Time aka The Real says:

I always dislike the rape “threats”, racism, hate speech, whatever is allowed BUT THIS ISN’T angle. As if it would be better if they lowered the bar to the absurd extent that this would not be arbitrary. People, including myself, get banned all the time for arbitrary reasons – the arbitrary argument only seems to hold weight when some politically correct dullard is arbitrarily banned.

Anonymous Coward says:

Surprised no one has yet mentioned the possibility of another reason why a guy who made an ISIS joke got booted from the site: One of Twitter’s majority shareholders is Prince Waleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, the country that has exported Wahabist Islam to every continent but Antarctica and created ISIS in the first place with a little help from the good old U$A.

There has been a tremendous crackdown on ANYONE who says anything even remotely critical of the religion of pieces, while scumbags who proselytize openly for the glories of the holy profit (pig’s blood upon him) are allowed to proliferate with impunity. Twitter won’t do anything about ISIS because Twitter itself is an ISIS propaganda outlet.

All in the name of oil and Bronze Age fairy tales. Would that we left both toxic influences upon humanity behind a long time ago.

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