Apparently @gerwitz is a more dangerous account than, you know, the fascists and bigots and other assholes that widely populate Twitter.
One way I cope with the toxicity of the internet commons is maintaining Twitter lists. It’s been impossible to read through a discussion of any US political issue without running across some Nazis spewing bile about what other-than-them group is responsible for all that’s wrong in the world, or flat-earthers imploring the sheeple to wake up and see that vaccines are made of guitar pedals. Lately it seems like every subject is, somehow, a US political issue.
I’m pretty good at resisting the urge to read the comments below articles and videos, but in discussion media like Twitter you can’t avoid them. When I read a thread about social justice I expect some trolls but even a thread about generative art or the philosophy of consciousness usually has some random @user287942 chiming in about how everyone else is stupid or evil.
Sure, I block them, but that doesn’t have enough cathartic oomph. Replying to them is reliably counter-productive, even if I can’t always help myself. So I devised a small gesture: I list them.
I use Twitter lists anyway. Sometimes they are simple bookmarks like tracking the weird sun accounts. But often they are for targeted reading, such as keeping up on COVID news without getting sucked into the general timeline. Once you’re in the habit of discovering someone on Twitter and filing them into an interesting list, it feels natural to add some to negative buckets.
My primary bucket of shame is named “jackasses”. It’s not meant to be revisited, I only use it to make me feel better by adding a jackass to it. It is a little fun to imagine them getting the “you’ve been added to a list” email, but I’ve usually blocked them so won’t get into a pointless flame war with them.
Every now and then I run across someone in a position of power who is an outsized menace to society, and will not only add them to the list but will take a moment to purge a bunch of forgotten jackasses from the list. I’m not sure why I do this.
“Jackasses” seems not quite accurate for some people who nonetheless I want to do something with. So I also created a “troll” list and, recently, one for the flat earther types that are just “dumb”.
Well, today I found that labeling people as “dumb” violates the Twitter Rules. My account was suspended with this friendly note:
The account will remain suspended until the List is removed. We understand that in some cases these violations happen due to a misunderstanding of our policies, but please keep in mind that repeat problems like this could lead to a permanent lock on this account.
I wonder how many of these warnings the members of my trolls list have received.
Anyway, I deleted the list and my account was quickly reactivated. No harm done, except to my estimation of Twitter’s approach to moderation. I have filed for an appeal because it seems fair to demand clarification on which rule a list named “dumb” (description: “just dumb”) violated and how I might correctly report other accounts for violating the same.