A well-known journalist who covers the racist far-right for Splinter, Pacific Standard, and other outlets was locked out of her Twitter account briefly for "promoting violence" against a protected group: Fascists.
On Tuesday, writer Elizabeth King found herself locked out of her Twitter account for "violating [Twitter's] rules against hateful conduct." The message to King read, "You may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease."
King's tweet, which linked to a video of two unknown white women subjecting a Black person to racist harassment, read, "I'll punch a girl fascist, too shit." Posted in November of last year, the tweet was seemingly just reported by someone scouring King's timeline for possible offenses to use to silence her and thus her reporting. King was not able to resume use of her account until after deleting the tweet.
Asked to explain under which protected category fascists fall, a spokesperson for Twitter said that while King's tweet did violate the company's rules, the reason initially given was incorrect. The tweet, they claimed, violated Twitter's rules against abusive behavior, which prevents users from engaging in or inciting targeted harassment.
However, King's tweet did not mention any other Twitter users nor encourage another user's harassment. The women in the linked video were also unidentified. Twitter did not respond to requests for further clarification.
Asked for comment on Twitter's statement, King said only, "I don't buy it."
The lockout coincides with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey's right-wing talk circuit "apology tour." Precipitated by a backlash from conservatives and right-wing extremists angry about the multi-billion dollar company finally taking action against racist incitement and harassment on its platform, and therefore suspending popular right-wing accounts, Dorsey has subjected himself to a series of struggle sessions at the hands of alt-light media personalities, wherein he has stunningly claimed a liberal bias on the part of his company.
The list of accounts Dorsey follows on Twitter serves itself as a study in online radicalization or "red pilling," as it is known. While Dorsey follows a diverse multitude of users from across the political spectrum, over the years, the conservative voices he follows have grown more extreme in tenor, with some openly trafficking in white nationalism. Some were named by the Christchurch shooter as ideological inspirations.
The first two explicitly political accounts Dorsey followed were those of Newt Gingrich and late Sen. John McCain. As of this writing, Dorsey follows alt-light extremists such as Stefan Molyneux, Mike Cernovich, Charlie Kirk, Candace Owens, Ben Shapiro, and red-brown crossover conduit Michael Tracey. He also follows Intellectual Dark Web figures such as Eric Weinstein, Jordan Peterson, Steven Pinker, Gad Saad, and Claire Lehmann. But Dorsey goes even a step further off the deep end, following some of the most extreme conservative voices on the hellsite he birthed, including Sean Hannity, James Woods, Bill Mitchell, and Roseanne Barr.
It's one thing to keep one's self abreast of diverse opinion, it's another to treat all opinions as equally meritorious. Dorsey's taste in conservative thinkers should raise eyebrows and call into question, not just his ability to adequately address bigotry on his platform, but his interest in even doing so. It explains all too well how a journalist who fights fascism for a living could get locked out of her account for a wisecrack before the fascists who harass her for reporting on their activities get locked out of theirs.