I'm a History Professor with 139 Followers. Why Did Elon Ban Me From Twitter?Roundup
tags: social media, Twitter, censorship, Elon Musk
Kenneth Osgood is professor of history at Colorado School of Mines, a current fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities and a recent fellow at Harvard. He has published five books on U.S. political and diplomatic history, and op-eds in the New York Times, CNN, Denver Post and elsewhere.
If Elon Musk steps down as Twitter CEO, as he claims, what will happen to all those banned accounts? Yes, I know the "mass unbanning of suspended Twitter users is underway," as CNN boldly announced on Dec. 8. Even neo-Nazis and apologists for rape have been welcomed back, and all manner of hate speech is thriving on Musk's new Twitter.
But "abusive behavior" still supposedly violates the Twitter Rules, and my account has been blocked for weeks for such crimes. Specifically, I called Elon Musk a "poopy pants." Also a "bologna face."
Others have been banished for lesser offenses, including a half-dozen prominent journalists. Their ousters provoked howls of protest, including threatened sanctions by the EU, but now they're back to tweeting. Not me. I'm still banned, and no one has come to my defense. Not even one of my 139 followers.
I don't blame Musk. Twitter has standards, and it cannot countenance misinformation. You can't have 139 people thinking Mr. Musk leaves toenail clippings on the floor, as I tweeted on Nov. 21. Or that he has personal possession of Hunter Biden's laptop, as I posted the next day.
I'm not your usual Twitter troll, if there is such a thing. I'm a history professor who writes sleep-inducing books and articles weighed down by pages of footnotes. Until mid-November, I had tweeted not more than three dozen times since 2016. I said nothing noteworthy. Most of my 139 followers are other historians. Imagine the drama.
So how did a Twitter nobody get banned? I'll let you in on a secret: It was all part of my master plan.
I hatched my scheme shortly after learning that Musk had reinstated the account of former President Donald J. Trump, a man who had literally used Twitter to amplify threats against his own vice president and incite an assault on Congress. I was horrified, and decided to register my protest by deleting my account.
Then reality set in. What difference would that make? I had precious few followers. My infrequent posts had grossly violated Twitter etiquette by spelling words correctly and locating them within complete paragraphs. I also capitalized appropriately. With such a record, would anyone actually notice my protest? Also, I spent 30 seconds skimming an article about how to delete a Twitter account, and it looked like a pain. Who has the time?