Twitter Suspends Popehat For Writing About Violent Threats He Received From Another Twitter User

from the wait-what? dept

Twitter has gotten a lot of flack over the years for how it responds to threats and abuse online -- much of it deserved. The company insists that it's gotten much better about this, and now responds much more quickly to inappropriate threats or abuse online. But doing so is often difficult and bound to lead to some really bad decisions. Like one that just happened. Ken White's Popehat account has been temporarily suspended from Twitter. Why? Because he posted a threat he had received from someone else on Twitter to Twitter. Update: after this story started getting some attention, Twitter reversed the suspension and publicly apologized, saying that it was an error.

If you're a regular Techdirt reader, I'm sure you're familiar with Ken "Popehat" White, the blogging lawyer who covers a lot of the same stuff we do, mainly in the free speech realm. Ken has also, a few times, represented us in response to silly legal threats we've received. If you're a Twitter user, you may also be aware that Ken is a prolific and masterful user of Twitter often commenting on the news of the day. He also uses Twitter to do some law 'splaining and to call out bullies and trolls. He's pretty good at it. One such recent bully was a Texas lawyer named Jason L. Van Dyke. We actually wrote about Jason a few years ago when he tried to sue the Tor Project, because some revenge porn site used Tor. We didn't hear much about him until a few months ago. It seems that, somehow, Van Dyke was offered a job as an assistant district attorney in Victoria County. For unclear reasons, that job offer was pulled. Van Dyke was not happy. He proceeds to sue the DA for pulling the job offer.

In the midst of all this, another Twitter user, Asher Langton -- who has an uncanny ability to sniff out people online who are not exactly what they claim to be -- pointing out that it certainly looked like there were very strong similarities between Van Dyke and someone claiming to be a lawyer trolling for business on the white supremacist site Stormfront. There's a fair amount of back and forth between Langton and Van Dyke and then a direct threat from Van Dyke to knock out Langton's teeth. At one point there was this bizarre drama in which Van Dyke gave Langton 24 hours to promise to stop talking about him or promising to come to Langton and punch out his teeth.

24 hours passed and nothing happened.

Anyway... around this point, Ken White steps in and writes up quite the post about Jason L. Van Dyke. It's a good, well researched, thorough and detailed post as you might expect. In response, Van Dyke trains his anger on Ken, and starts tweeting shit about Ken and making similar threats to those he made to Langton (though a bunch of those tweets now appear to have been deleted).

There were other tweets that certainly appeared to imply potential violence against Ken including a meme involving a bullet, that Van Dyke posted to Ken's Facebook thread about one of his posts:

Ken then posts a second story about being sent a truly pathetic "glitterbomb" by someone claiming to be a supporter of Van Dyke's... and then goes on to expose someone who commented about Van Dyke on the earlier post, making Van Dyke out to be some sort of bad ass (or, as Ken puts it "a badass [as] might be imagined by a lonely 14-year-old.") Ken tracks down some evidence suggesting that the comment came from Van Dyke himself or someone working with him (though, very likely Van Dyke himself).

Following that post, Van Dyke sent Ken this email:

If you can't read that, it says:

White--

You listen to me, and you listen good. This ends now and here is how it's going to work. I have deleted my Twitter account because, frankly, I have better things to do than deal with you and your followers. I am going to make you a one-time offer and you get to choose.

  1. I am willing to walk away. Right here. Right now. You remove the libelous blog posts about me and make whatever excuse you want. I really don't care what it is. You will never see or hear from me ever again. We both go about our lives.
  2. You can do what I think you are more than likely to do anyway and simple add this e-mail to your blog post. If you d that, I want to make it very clear what is going to happen. I have a picture of you. I am going to put it on my mirror at home, near my desk, and in my truck. My pure and absolute hatred for you will be unprecedented. My hatred for you will serve as a motivation for me to build an entirely new business and to earn enough money so that, one day, I will be able to make your life such an absolute living hell that I'll be able to hurt you without so much as laying a hand on you. I will make you so miserable and treat you with such extreme and completely unprecedented cruelly that you'll either kill yourself or move yourself and your family to the most remote part of the world you can afford to escape my wrath. The bottom line is that I will not forget you and that there will be retribution. It may take me a year. It may take me 20 years. I may get you on my first try. I may get you on my seventeenth try. But I will never stop.
You will take this offer today or the only thing you will have to know is that, sooner or later, I will come for you.

Jason L. Van Dyke
Attorney & Counselor at Law

So, nice guy, right? Ken posted that email to his blog and to Twitter, noting: "I don't respond well to threats. It's kind of a thing. Sorry, Jason."

And... Twitter suspends Ken's Popehat account for 12 hours. Ken's. Not Jason's. Not the guy doing the threatening. The guy posting about being threatened. It's Twitter's "cool off" suspension, in which your account is still live, but you can't tweet, retweet or like other tweets for 12 hours.

Having seen stuff like this before, I'm pretty sure I know why Twitter did this, even if it's stupid. Twitter's terms of service and "rules" which are incorporated into the terms says that you cannot share private information. In the past I've seen similar suspensions when people post someone else's email that includes phone numbers/addresses and the like. Indeed in a post that Ken just put up on his own blog, Twitter confirms that it's the posting of someone else's info that got him into trouble, though Ken points out that Twitter itself says that it will take context into account. And if you're taking context into account, you have to wonder how it is that Ken gets suspended for highlighting the guy who threatened him, while the actual threatener remains free to post at will.

I asked Ken for a comment on the situation, and he told me:

Twitter is perfectly in its rights to do this. Twitter is a private company with its own free speech and free association rights. I've got no right to post there if they don't want me to post there.

But I think most reasonable people would see this as egregiously stupid, and a sign of a recurrent problem -- the systems that social media platforms put in place to deal with harassment are often dumb, and seem to catch people responding to threats and abuse as often as they catch the abuse itself.

Meanwhile, I'm not deleting the tweet. I wrote about a lawyer and damn-near-active-prosecutor who threatened people who writing about him, and he threatened me. When I wrote more, he threatened more, including that freakish email. That's newsworthy, and I'm not taking it down.

Indeed. We've talked many times about the problems of demanding that platforms police behavior. It's one of those things that seems easy, until you realize just how tricky it is. A trust and safety team dropping in on Ken's conversations wouldn't have the relevant background and is likely to rush through and make a bad decision. So be careful what you wish for when you say platforms should be policing content. They're probably not up to the task.


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  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 3 Aug 2017 @ 4:52pm

    Twitter claiming information the sender includes on every email, threatening & otherwise is private & confidential.

    o_O

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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 3 Aug 2017 @ 4:58pm

    Write an actual threat: No action.

    Insult the person who made the threat: Shadowbanned.

    And Twitter wonders why people are no longer signing up for the service.

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Aug 2017 @ 5:06pm

    No policing due to "incompetence", eh? Twitter in this instance makes a howling plain error, so no bar owner should throw out loudmouths challenging to fights!

    Unless White maintains that bars are NOT to police patrons and fairly adequately get right the key point of "who started it", then his notions that Twitter is allowed to censor him boil down to "it's all different because... ON TEH INTERNETS!"

    (By the way: has White ever actually gone into a crowded movie theater and yelled "FIRE!" as he claims can do under First Amendment without some drawback? Inquiring minds want to know EXACTLY where he goes off the rails between legalistic notions and actualities.)

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Aug 2017 @ 5:14pm

      Re: No policing due to "incompetence", eh? Twitter in this instance makes a howling plain error, so no bar owner should throw out loudmouths challenging to fights!

      >>> Twitter is perfectly in its rights to do this. Twitter is a private company with its own free speech and free association rights. I've got no right to post there if they don't want me to post there.

      Okay, if that's so, then you can be excluded from any physical business because black, Jewish, blonde, whatever, ANY reason. You could in theory be denied food, housing, medical care... You're just plain WRONG.

      Businesses are NOT private if IN THE PUBLIC MARKETPLACE.

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      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 3 Aug 2017 @ 5:19pm

        Re: Re:

        Except, no, that is not wrong. Twitter has every right to determine who can or cannot use their service based on the terms of service and any breaking thereof. If you say or do something on Twitter that violates Twitter’s TOS, they have every right to suspend you or toss you off; no one can force a platform to host any kind of speech, much less speech that the platform’s owners do not want on it.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Aug 2017 @ 5:47pm

      Re: No policing due to "incompetence", eh? Twitter in this instance makes a howling plain error, so no bar owner should throw out loudmouths challenging to fights!

      I don't think you have any idea how the world works.

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      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Aug 2017 @ 6:30pm

        Re: Re: No policing due to "incompetence", eh? Twitter in this instance makes a howling plain error, so no bar owner should throw out loudmouths challenging to fights!

        Generic reply to support for White's notions, written without seeing those, if any:

        First, and key, NO, I'm not the one required to show statute. White and you are making claims that require highly detailed proof: that a legal fiction which did not and cannot exist prior to permission from The Public somehow gains a superior right to have the stated control over we "natural" persons. -- That's simply corporatism. If you've any sense, you'll reject it: makes YOU a serf in comparison!

        I say the question need turn on whether "natural" persons are inferior to corporate "persons", because that's what White is asserting there, and it's come up before.

        Businesses appear nowhere in the US Constitution, not least because they're FICTIONS. Show me the entity you call "Twitter" before even claim it has any Rights, let alone superior to yours.

        I'm definitely not going to anything to hostile audience which doesn't accept premise of the supremacy of "natural" persons. You can gainsay more than I can ever argue, let alone prove. I just have to hand-wave that. And I'm in good company: in the Declaration Of Independence, the fundamentals are stated as SELF-EVIDENT: just too complex to explain, and ideas are no defense to English tyrants who had the power -- but not right -- to shoot or hang the Founders, had the more obedient serfs caught them. All you can do is rely on the tyrants being human -- had the British shot Gandhi when had him in jail, India wouldn't be at all free now. ... But corporations have NO feelings of humanity nor even physical frailty. They are simply engines for collecting money in the public marketplace without personal liability. FEAR THEM.

        The basis of America is equal before the law due to inalienable rights given by god, however conceived. -- God did not make corporations: lawyers have. That should be reason enough to view White and EVERY lawyer with extreme skepticism. White is asserting that a corporation -- whether "natural" persons might have a right over yours all else being same is NOT the instant case, it's whether a CORPORATION has rights over yours. Don't bother saying IF, here. White explicitly says "Twitter" has rights superior to his.

        Now, you'll need to show deep context, more than a court case, a statute, and even more than appeals that won. You'll need to show how the view of corporations has changed since the 1960s when lunch-counter sit-ins established that businesses must serve all persons fairly, absent some over-riding common law principle. -- And THEN you get to the insurmountable Constitution, and that REGARDLESS what those in power claim, every "natural" person must surely have rights superior to those of a legal fiction.

        Where DO corporations get such power? -- Now justify their having it over you! -- I'm confident that if anyone even attempts to answer that one question will soon concur with me.

        In theory (used to be near universal opinion), Twitter is PERMITTED to operate on condition of, and only so long as serves the public. I grant you that in practice "natural" persons are today under assault by corporations: I rail about it often. Techdirt and likely YOU often complain about corporations exercising power to control you. White's sly notion slipped in there, is what YOU (surely everyone here) otherwise oppose! Why do you support someone who'd logically, from that statement, support the evil ??AAs to control, silence, and oppress you arbitrarily?

        YOU really need to think on the similarities there, not just accept that White is authority beyond all question, while asserts that YOUR SPEECH is to be controlled by corporations. -- What if all corporations get together (as, absent anti-trust, they ARE), then since are "persons" with right of association, they could control all major outlest and NOT provide any given "natural" person with ANY platform? That TOTAL censorship era is visibly approaching. Enjoy. Don't say you weren't warned.

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        • icon
          Roger Strong (profile), 3 Aug 2017 @ 6:34pm

          Re: Re: Re: No policing due to "incompetence", eh? Twitter in this instance makes a howling plain error, so no bar owner should throw out loudmouths challenging to fights!

          From wrong, to wrong in detail.

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        • icon
          Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 3 Aug 2017 @ 6:38pm

          Re: Re: Re: No policing due to "incompetence", eh? Twitter in this instance makes a howling plain error, so no bar owner should throw out loudmouths challenging to fights!

          You need help. I hear that Dr. Mark D. Beale, MD has lots of time on his hands, but he might not be the correct choice as he appears to have some of the same issues you do.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Aug 2017 @ 6:39pm

          Re: Re: Re: No policing due to "incompetence", eh? Twitter in this instance makes a howling plain error, so no bar owner should throw out loudmouths challenging to fights!

          You're wrong.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Aug 2017 @ 6:46pm

          Re: Re: Re: No policing due to "incompetence", eh? Twitter in this instance makes a howling plain error, so no bar owner should throw out loudmouths challenging to fights!

          Show me your proof of claims...

          Because the last time I checked, the First Amendment started with, "Congress shall make no law..." I don't remember anything about businesses being listed anywhere in the Constitution.

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 3 Aug 2017 @ 6:50pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Show me the law that says a person can force a platform for expression to host a specific kind of speech.

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          • icon
            Roger Strong (profile), 3 Aug 2017 @ 7:17pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            There is an interesting argument to be made:

            Private businesses that serve the general public do have some limits. A bakery can't refuse to make a cake for a same-sex wedding. Nor can they refuse service based on race or religion or political preference.

            Techdirt is a private business serving the general public, making money off ads and "insider" donations. Do the rules for "bricks and mortar" stores extend to online businesses? If not, should they? Or could Techdirt ban based on political preference? There are certainly some sites that do.

            Of course, I haven't seen Techdirt ban based on political preference. The AC above gets banned for being abusive and disruptive, adding noise rather than intelligent conversation. Banning THAT should certainly be allowed.

            But still, we don't say that the bakery "is a private company with its own free speech and free association rights." It must serve the entire (non-abusive) public. At what point do we say the same of Twitter or any other business whose product is a communication medium?

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 3 Aug 2017 @ 7:23pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              You're confusing and conflating different issues.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 3 Aug 2017 @ 8:00pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              A bakery can't refuse to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.

              They actually can…so long as they operate in a city or state that lacks non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation. (No federal law makes that type of discrimination illegal.)

              Any lawsuits against people who have refused service to gay people in places with such protections have been about one principle: If you serve the general public, you must serve them equally and according to the law. The bakers and photographers and such who have been sued for discrimination were sued because they refused their full “menu” of goods/services to gay people despite the law saying they must.

              could Techdirt ban based on political preference?

              Last time I checked, neither California state law nor federal law protects someone from discrimination in hiring or public accomodations based on their political beliefs. As for Techdirt, the site’s owners have the right to refuse a platform for any speech they do not want to host. Show me a law that says they can be forced into hosting that speech, and I’ll show you a law that will be found unconstitutional.

              (And yes, it would be unconstitutional, as it would be an abridgement of the freedoms of expression and association. No one can legally force me to associate with and speak the words of, say, a white nationalist.)

              The AC above gets banned for being abusive and disruptive

              They do not get “banned”, period. At worst, their posts get held up by a spam filter; at best, they get hidden away by the comment flagging system. But they keep plugging away regardless. I do not know if Techdirt admins have ever banned someone outright from the commenting sections; even if they have, I would not know, and I doubt they would make that information public.

              we don't say that the bakery "is a private company with its own free speech and free association rights." It must serve the entire (non-abusive) public.

              …within the boundaries of the law.

              At what point do we say the same of Twitter or any other business whose product is a communication medium?

              On the flip side, at what point do we say that Twitter is being forced to host speech that the Twitter higher-ups would otherwise not want hosted on the service?

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              • icon
                Roger Strong (profile), 3 Aug 2017 @ 9:10pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                On the flip side, at what point do we say that Twitter is being forced to host speech that the Twitter higher-ups would otherwise not want hosted on the service?

                This might be similar to a bakery not wanting to print a same-sex marriage message on a cake.

                ISPs - like telegraph and telephone companies before them - cannot refuse to carry speech it finds offensive, because they're "common carriers." I suppose the questions might be, "At what point does Twitter become a common carrier?" "Section 230 gives them a lot of protection from being held responsible user-generated content. Should that come with a minor obligation to allow content they might not like?"

                I'm thinking about this because beyond simply reading articles, when it comes to speaking out, exercising free speech, for many people Facebook and Twitter ARE the internet.

                Personally I think the way things are now is the better alternative. But as this article shows, it's not ideal. It's worth discussing alternatives.

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                • icon
                  Stephen T. Stone (profile), 3 Aug 2017 @ 10:00pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  This might be similar to a bakery not wanting to print a same-sex marriage message on a cake.

                  Except, no, it is not. At least not in the broadest interpretation of your comment.

                  Azucar Bakery, which operates out of Denver, Colorado, was sued a couple of years ago after the bakery refused to decorate a cake for a Christian customer. The bakery was more than willing to bake the customer a cake—in the shape of a cross, no less!—but it would not decorate said cake with anti-gay messages. (As a matter of store policy, it refused to decorate any product with any kind of hateful message.) The bakers offered to sell the customer whatever he needed to decorate the cake himself; the customer refused. That customer lost his lawsuit because the court ruled that the bakery did everything possible to accomodate him short of a “special” accomodation for his specific religious belief.

                  In other similar cases (including the one set to go before the Supreme Court), the bakers did not refuse to decorate a cake for a gay couple—because they refused to so much as even sell them a cake. And in the event that they did sell a cake, they refused to decorate it as they would have decorated one sold to a straight couple. In essence, those bakers gave a “special” accomodation to customers based on sexual orientation.

                  If the customers in the latter type of case had asked for pro-gay messages on their cakes, I would have sided with the bakers; they should not be forced into expressing a message with which they disagree. But those bigoted bakers either refused to bake a cake for gay couples or refused to decorate it with the same kind of generic decorations used for straight couples. They refused part of their “menu” to customers protected by the laws of their city or state against such discrimination; they should face the consequences thereof.

                  “Section 230 gives them a lot of protection from being held responsible user-generated content. Should that come with a minor obligation to allow content they might not like?”

                  There is already plenty of content on Twitter that the company’s higher-ups would probably prefer to take down. It could take all that content down right now if it wanted to, no questions asked. Why? Because despite having a service that is open to the general public, Twitter is still a privately-owned, non-government entity. The higher-ups there retain the discretion to choose what kind of content will and will not be hosted on the Twitter service.

                  To regulate Twitter as if it were a utility would be to upend the entire notion of similar social media services (e.g., Discord, Telegram, Facebook, the multitude of Mastodon instances). How would the government regulate such services? At what point would it start regulating such a service? And how could the government stay on the right side of the First Amendment while ostensibly forcing a privately-owned company to host speech that said company’s owners do not want to host?

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            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 4 Aug 2017 @ 1:12am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "A bakery can't refuse to make a cake for a same-sex wedding. Nor can they refuse service based on race or religion or political preference."

              No, if they offer a service to the general public, they have to offer it to *the public*, not just those parts of it that they find acceptable for whatever reason.

              The exception to this is action. You can refuse to sell a cake to a gay couple. Because they were abusive, because they're asking for it tomorrow when it takes longer to bake, because they won't pay the offered price, because they know they're not really getting married and are just trying to get wedding discounts, because they are asking for a type of cake you don't normally sell. You can refuse service for all sorts of reasons, you just can't refuse them service specifically because they were gay. Which is what the idiots you're referring to did - they were happy to sell them the cake, then changed their minds and refused after they learned it was a gay wedding.

              "Or could Techdirt ban based on political preference? There are certainly some sites that do."

              Political alignment is not a protected class along the lines of gender, race or sexuality, so sure they can do that.

              "Banning THAT should certainly be allowed."

              ...and it is, including in the examples you're giving.

              "At what point do we say the same of Twitter or any other business whose product is a communication medium?"

              We already do.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Aug 2017 @ 7:45pm

          Re: Re: Re: No policing due to "incompetence", eh? Twitter in this instance makes a howling plain error, so no bar owner should throw out loudmouths challenging to fights!

          It's funny how those "inalienable rights given by God" seem to have sprung into existence at about the same time as the Enlightenment.

          I don't remember Him (or any of His proxies, priests, prophets, or popes) saying much about the "inalienable" "God-given" rights of the individual to free speech, freedom of religion, or even freedom from slavery (excepting believers) before that point.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Aug 2017 @ 7:57pm

          Re: Re: Re: No policing due to "incompetence", eh? Twitter in this instance makes a howling plain error, so no bar owner should throw out loudmouths challenging to fights!

          Wow scooter you just went full sovereign citizen. Now all your common law bullshit makes sense.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Aug 2017 @ 8:00pm

      Re: No policing due to "incompetence", eh? Twitter in this instance makes a howling plain error, so no bar owner should throw out loudmouths challenging to fights!

      This is one of the signs of a person having a stroke:
      S: Speech difficulty. People having a stroke may slur their speech or have trouble speaking at all. Speech may be incomprehensible. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence and look for any speech abnormality.

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  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 3 Aug 2017 @ 5:07pm

    Damn

    Twitter, Facebook, his own blog, AND an in demand law practice. Ken must be a time management guru. I hope he publishes a treatise on time management, it would not only be insightful, but also likely a hoot to read.

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  • identicon
    Tang, 3 Aug 2017 @ 5:11pm

    There is usually a reason for rules like this

    Twitter probably added this rule in response to Frederick Brennan posting the emails to Cloudflare from the team that got 8chan's domain revoked because someone had uploaded CP to one of the boards (and they were probably the ones who uploaded it). It's how they operate. They make up a rule to protect themselves and justify harming their political targets, then refuse to enforce it against their political allies.

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  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 3 Aug 2017 @ 5:15pm

    As Ken said, Twitter has the right to censor anything they want to on their platform, even if they're not always right to do so.

    Likewise, Techdirt has the right to censor comments, should they ever choose to start doing so.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Aug 2017 @ 5:20pm

    In fairness, if Van Dyke actually deleted his Twitter account like his email claims, it's hard for Twitter to take further action on him now.

    I guess if Ken were feeling nice he could offer to repost the tweet with the address and phone number blacked out. I wouldn't be feeling nice after all that though.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 3 Aug 2017 @ 5:24pm

      Re:

      His Twitter account remains active; the last tweet he sent was, as of this posting, ninety minutes ago.

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      • icon
        Roger Strong (profile), 3 Aug 2017 @ 6:15pm

        Re: Re:

        And he has a post pinned at the top to con money out of supporters, claiming to support some white supremacist "Proud Boys" who made fools of themselves* in Halifax.

        * They disrupted what they though was an "anti-Canada" protest, but left after finding out that it was nothing of the sort. The indigenous group was protesting a statue of an openly genocidal governor from the 1700s.

        The fundraising site makes a lot of false claims about the incident. And while they object to the "Proud Boys" being labelled neo-Nazis, a Venn diagram of the two groups would have near 100% overlap.

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        • icon
          Dan Audy (profile), 3 Aug 2017 @ 10:38pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          *Active duty* military personnel with the 'Proud Boys' threatened the protestors and disrupted their peaceful protest. Thankfully since Canada is reasonably sane they've all been suspended from duty and are all likely to be fired or demoted.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Aug 2017 @ 6:49pm

        Re: Re:

        Meh, screw 'em, then. Thanks for checking, phone posting makes me lazy

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Aug 2017 @ 9:44pm

        Re: Re:

        "Hook. Line. Sinker. Bye bye FagHat."

        is what he wrote in reply to Popehat's temporary ban. Really classy, this guy.

        I wonder how long it takes for someone to tweet this article's URL back at him. Just for the fun of it.

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    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 3 Aug 2017 @ 6:01pm

      Re:

      Will JLVD then remove that same info from his AVVO ad?

      Twitter had a kneejerk which is ZOMG a phone number!!

      Lets see.
      JLVD tells Ken to post it on his blog.
      The info is on every email sent out.
      How this can be private/confidential info... makes no sense if you look beyond the immediate ZOMG response.

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  • icon
    Unanimous Cow Herd (profile), 3 Aug 2017 @ 5:26pm

    Just leave

    Twitter is an internet ghetto. Why anyone still uses it is beyond comprehension.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Aug 2017 @ 6:40pm

    Europe and privacy

    Note that Europe has a ridiculous notion of privacy thereby you can be sued or even jailed for violating the privacy of others merely for republishing facts about someone's criminal past.

    In a lot of European nations, mentioning that John Doe was convicted of rape 20 years ago is a criminal offense.

    The law should never ban republication of facts about criminals or facts about named individuals provable crimes.

    Twitter's broad notion of privacy is likely inspired if not directly mandated by Europe's censorious of even public facts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 3 Aug 2017 @ 7:35pm

      Re: Europe and privacy

      The law should never ban republication of facts about criminals or facts about named individuals provable crimes.

      Van Dyke's threats may be crimes, and his views are certainly repugnant. But until he's convicted of anything, I'm not sure the above statement applies.

      On the other hand, with no conviction it should be up to the John Doe to explain to the court why his own words were repugnant enough - or his own actions criminal enough - to cause him harm if not removed from the public record.

      Van Dyke's threats and Stormfront posts for example. No conviction, no harm in the information being public. Unless HE explains to the judge what's wrong with his actions. With possible negative consequences.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 3 Aug 2017 @ 8:20pm

        Re: Re: Europe and privacy

        Yeah, the fact of the matter is that defamation typically has to do with lying about a person, and directly quoting the person’s own words while expressing an opinion about them typically does not rise to the level of defamation. For example:

        “He ruined my career. Now I am going to do everything in my power to ruin his.” — Jason L. Van Dyke, self-proclaimed “proud boy” (read: right-wing White nationalist) and noted imbecile, openly threatens to ruin Popehat’s career

        He could argue that either my interpretation of the “proud boy” label or my calling him an “imbecile” counts as defamation. The courts would probably do the stoic legal equivalent of laughing at that dumbassery, but he could make the argument. But he cannot argue that the “proud boy” label (he uses it in his Twitter bio and on his blog), the context of his quoted statement (that he intends to ruin Popehat’s career), or the very use of his statement counts as defamation. Those are facts with actual context and evidence to back them up.

        And the truth is still the best defense for a charge of defamation.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DocGerbil100 (profile), 3 Aug 2017 @ 8:50pm

      Re: Europe and privacy

      "Note that Europe has a ridiculous notion of privacy thereby you can be sued or even jailed for violating the privacy of others merely for republishing facts about someone's criminal past.

      In a lot of European nations, mentioning that John Doe was convicted of rape 20 years ago is a criminal offense."

      Hello, AC. :)

      Are you sure about this? I know the EU has a right to be forgotten, but that's a civil law, whereby you can sue for the right to be delisted from search engines, not a criminal law.

      I looked up privacy law on Wikipedia, but it seems a little weak on the topic. Perhaps if you could provide a citation or two...? :)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 3 Aug 2017 @ 7:12pm

    He appealed, and Twitter is upholding the ban.

    He is locked out.
    The 12 hour countdown will not start until he deletes the email that EXPLICITLY tells Ken he can post it.
    The personal information that wasn't sneakily gathered & tacked on, but the info the proud boy put onto every email and is on his AVVO page & elsewhere online.

    This is right up there with the pointless you can't tell anyone what this email says lines stupid lawyers use.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 3 Aug 2017 @ 7:52pm

    here's a thought, can Douchy McIdiotface be banned from twitter for posting his own information via twitter, etc?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 3 Aug 2017 @ 8:03pm

      Re:

      No, but I bet he could be banned (or at least suspended) for targeted harassment, threats, and hate speech.

      I mean, if Twitter actually gave a damn about doing that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John Strosnider (profile), 3 Aug 2017 @ 8:06pm

    I wonder what the Bar Association thinks about this

    Wouldn't threatening another lawyer--in writing, no less!--be grounds for Van Dyke to get disbarred?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DocGerbil100 (profile), 3 Aug 2017 @ 8:56pm

    Now, that's a what-in-the-actual-fuck moment, right there. :P

    I'm glad I don't use Twitter. I was considering signing up, since a few people I know use only this, rather than FB, but after reading this article, I think perhaps I'm better off staying away.

    What a bunch of unbelievable spanners. :/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Aug 2017 @ 9:26pm

      Re:

      As White says, they have rules, and if you don't like them, don't play in their sandbox.

      *shrug* I don't like them, I'm not playing.

      Besides, who has time, what with filling up Techdirt's comments sections with stuff like this? :)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 3 Aug 2017 @ 10:21pm

    Update: Twitter has undone the suspension!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 4 Aug 2017 @ 12:39am

      Re:

      I guess the screenshots of JLVD saying how he had set Ken up and won, getting him suspended on his birthday etc... might have played a small part in it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    shripad, 4 Aug 2017 @ 3:06am

    thank you for sharing this wonderful article. keep posting

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Aug 2017 @ 3:16am

    Re: Europe and privacy

    In Denmark, our privacy act covers the publication of even truthful information about someone's prior criminal conviction.
    That's illegal to publish the fact that XXX is a thief even if it's true. Even you can prove that XXX has committed a crime, you can't publish the picture or proof on social media even if it's true.

    So yes, that's the law in several European countries.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    MyNameHere (profile), 4 Aug 2017 @ 3:30am

    You would think a lawyer would know better than to get into a twitter spat. Seems pretty silly on both sides.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 4 Aug 2017 @ 3:49am

      Re:

      You'd think a president would know better than to announce plans to ban people from the military on Twitter, before alerting his own staff and in such a hamfisted way that some ranking members of the military were genuinely afraid he was about to declare war on North Korea.

      But, this is 2017 and that's where we live, sadly. That Ken opts to engage directly with people on Twitter is the least of the issues. But, it's nice that you have found some way to criticise the guy for the actions taken against him.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        MyNameHere (profile), 4 Aug 2017 @ 5:23am

        Re: Re:

        Paul, I think President Trump is a moron studying hard to be an idiot, and failing. I don't hold him up as a shining example.

        Ken on the other hand is held up here as being just this side of godly. Yet, rather than let this pass or just blocking the guy and getting on with life, he instead engaged in a twitter spat. Seeing that he is fairly well read and followed, it's not surprising that some of it got caught in the filters that exist exactly to stop this sort of thing.

        I just though that Ken would be a little wiser than to get into an argument that has no positive outcomes.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 4 Aug 2017 @ 6:01am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Paul, I think President Trump is a moron studying hard to be an idiot, and failing. I don't hold him up as a shining example."

          Thankfully, here we agree.

          But, if you think this is just a "Twitter spat", you clearly didn't read the full article or the posts linked from it (I'd recommend the Popehat link to an article from last month). There's a lot of history involving the guy's behaviour with far more than just Twitter and far more than just Ken himself.

          You might disagree with the way he's doing this, but the actual issue he's addressing is not something that can be solved by Ken blocking the dick on Twitter (which, according to the article, is moot since he claims to have deleted his own account anyway).

          "I just though that Ken would be a little wiser than to get into an argument that has no positive outcomes."

          As should we all. There's no getting facts across to some people.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Toom1275 (profile), 4 Aug 2017 @ 7:57am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "I just though that Ken would be a little wiser than to get into an argument that has no positive outcomes."


            We're talking about the guy who replies to SEO spammers with demands for ponies.

            And this isn't the first round of bumptious threats Ken's responded to publicly on his blog. (including Ken's now-near-ownership of the phrase "snort my taint.")

            Though, I admit, the resulting conversations being posted to Popehat could count as a "positive outcome" as it results in our amusement.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 4 Aug 2017 @ 4:03am

    It's a mystery!

    We didn't hear much about him until a few months ago. It seems that, somehow, Van Dyke was offered a job as an assistant district attorney in Victoria County. For unclear reasons, that job offer was pulled. Van Dyke was not happy. He proceeds to sue the DA for pulling the job offer.

    I would think/hope that a quick five-minute search would be more than enough for anyone who cares about their reputation and public image to decide that they'd be better off literally setting their own offices on fire than hiring him in any capacity, hence the reason they pulled the job offer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Aug 2017 @ 5:57am

    Classic Popehat

    "I don't respond well to threats. It's kind of a thing."

    Van Dyke has obviously been living under a rock Interwebz-wise to believe it was safe to poke this particular bear with a stick. Twitter staff seem similarly sans indice.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Coyoty (profile), 4 Aug 2017 @ 6:28am

    Mistaken

    Van Dyke believes he has a certain set of skills. Skills that allow him to make people miserable and treat them with "extreme and completely unprecedented cruelly".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ren (profile), 4 Aug 2017 @ 7:16am

    Seems right course of action. Don't post addresses.

    Rarely do I find myself agree with twitter's actions.

    But putting out an address, and having that probably reported by Dyke, and being temporarily banned is the appropriate course of action.

    Twitter aren't going to be verifying that that addresses are public information. They have to assume it's private. Especially if reported, even if it is some nitwit with a grudge.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 4 Aug 2017 @ 8:31am

      Re: Seems right course of action. Don't post addresses.

      But putting out an address, and having that probably reported by Dyke, and being temporarily banned is the appropriate course of action.

      By this logic, anyone who posts a screenshot of a tweet that does not censor the account name of whoever made that tweet deserves a temporary ban for potentially causing “harassment” by way of an Internet dogpile.

      And yet, Twitter generally does not ban or suspend people for not censoring screenshots of tweets to prevent dogpiles.

      Kinda screwy to have one set of rules for email addresses, physical addresses, etc., and another set of rules for Twitter account names, huh?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Thad, 4 Aug 2017 @ 11:27am

        Re: Re: Seems right course of action. Don't post addresses.

        Kinda screwy to have one set of rules for email addresses, physical addresses, etc., and another set of rules for Twitter account names, huh?

        Email addresses? Sure. Physical addresses? I can see a good reason for keeping those private.

        Of course, that's provided they're private in the first place. This one wasn't; Van Dyke included it in his email signature, with his name, title, business, and other contact information. It's the equivalent of handing out a business card.

        There was a story, some years back, where the Phoenix New Times published a story alleging that then-Sheriff Joe Arpaio had some shady real estate dealings. As part of the story, they printed some addresses of properties he owns.

        Arpaio's underlings had the publishers of the New Times arrested, citing a law prohibiting the online publication of law enforcement officials' home addresses -- this despite the addresses in question being published already on official county websites.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anon E. Mous (profile), 4 Aug 2017 @ 8:43am

    And this Jason dude wanted to be a District Attorney? How would this guy fair as a D.A. considering his Twitter postings? Not to well I would think.

    Then there is the postings on Stormfront (a known site that caters to White supremacists and their beliefs) could that have to do with Maybe why the D.A. didn't hire this guy when they rescinded the D.A. job offer.

    How would one feel if you were another race other than white and had this guy prosecuting you? Think you would get a fair shake? I am sure that is one of the questions the District Attorneys office had as well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Glen, 4 Aug 2017 @ 9:05am

    According to Ken's site, they reversed course and he is back up an running.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Graham J (profile), 4 Aug 2017 @ 10:09am

    > Twitter confirms that it's the posting of someone else's info that got him into trouble

    So the headline should have been "Threat victim doxes someone on Twitter, gets temporary suspension"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 4 Aug 2017 @ 10:50am

      Re:

      It's not doxing when the one making the threat signs his own name and address to it. Let alone when he's posting the same threats on his own social media pages under his real name.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Thad, 4 Aug 2017 @ 11:21am

      Re:

      ...I'm not sure it counts as "doxxing" if the personally-identifying information is included in the threat.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Aug 2017 @ 3:20pm

    I'm beginning to wonder if JLVD stands for Just Loud Vociferous Douchebag.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dan, 4 Aug 2017 @ 10:07pm

    Now hiring

    Where can I find this Jason L. Van Dyke? I want to offer him a job cleaning toilets, $100 a week and all the shit he can eat. I know that's not his usual profession but it's about the best offer he can expect now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Name, 4 Aug 2017 @ 11:39pm

    Barbara Joan Streisand

    Always making things worse for herself.....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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