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:
Pewdiepie has been suspended and unverified on Twitter for making a joke about joining ISIS pic.twitter.com/06QQcbmc7H
— Ned Donovan (@Ned_Donovan) August 31, 2016
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:
— Sky News (@SkyNeiws) August 30, 2016
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?):
Me and @Jack_Septic_Eye have joined isis. Which is why we both got unverified.
— Felix Kjellberg ? (@pewdiepie) August 30, 2016
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 you want Twitter to do something about a guy repeatedly threatening to rape you, your best bet is to get him to embed an Olympic clip.
— Julie DiCaro (@JulieDiCaro) August 25, 2016
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.