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Twitter is facing protests over its decision to not remove Alex Jones – ANITH
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Twitter is facing protests over its decision to not remove Alex Jones

Twitter is facing protests over its decision to not remove Alex Jones

Alex Jones is still on Twitter, despite the fact that he repeatedly violated the platform’s rules of conduct. But this is 2018, and Twitter users are ready to protest.

Before we go any further, let’s be clear about some terminology: Jones supporters would have you believe that his recent removal from other platforms is an act of censorship and a violation of First Amendment rights. That’s simply untrue.

The First Amendment’s free speech protections apply to all citizens, including the people behind the social media companies that gave him the boot. If these private interests decided they didn’t want Jones peddling his conspiracy theories on their platforms, that’s their right.

Jones is free to say whatever he wants, but there are no guarantees on where he can say it. Facebook decided, after lots of pressure, that Jones maintaining a presence on the platform was worse for business than his forced removal. So now he’s gone.

Twitter made the opposite determination. Jones broke the platform’s rules. CNN even proved it. But the company has made its stance clear: Evidence or not, Jones won’t be punished for his past behavior.

The hypocrisy is hard to miss when all of this came just a few days after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey shared his thoughts on Jones being removed from other platforms.

(Note: The above tweets are part of a larger thread.)

Here’s the thing about Twitter, though: Just like Facebook, it’s a business. Also like Facebook, ad dollars are a big part of what helps the company stay afloat. Promoted tweets, hashtags, and accounts are moneymakers.

The other thing about Twitter that’s important here: Users have control over what they see when they look at their timeline. If an undesirable account appears in your feed, you can mute or block it and that’s that. This safety feature works regardless of whether the account being blocked/muted is paying to promote a tweet or not.

Right now, a protest action is taking shape that encourages users to block Twitter’s advertisers en masse, using a block list. It’s a simple concept: If lots of users publicly and loudly block the interests that pay for the audience reach Twitter provides, those interests might apply the pressure needed to get Jones removed from the platform.

The protest is being spearheaded by Shannon Coulter, an activist who founded a similar action called GrabYourWallet, which puts pressure on companies for carrying Trump-related products. Though it should be noted that Coulter credits the idea to her friend (also the founder of MeetingPlanner.io and AmericaPossible.com) Jeff Reifman

Coulter laid out how this GrabYourWallet-adjacent protest against Twitter’s lack of action would work in a Sunday thread.

The thread runs through a number of different options. There’s a blocking tool that Coulter created, accessible right here. The advantage to using the tool is you don’t have to do anything beyond adding it to your profile. If Twitter does boot Jones, all the companies listed will be unblocked automatically.

For those that would rather avoid authorizing Twitter account access, there’s also this handy Google Doc. It’s the same list of companies, but you need to block them manually — a process that would obviously take some time. “Even if you only blocked the top 25 to 50 , that would have impact,” Coulter wrote.

The third option is for those that don’t mind getting a little more technical. Twitter allows users to import block lists via .CSV files. You’ll need to grab this Google Doc containing the Twitter IDs for all the to-be-blocked companies, but the process is fairly simple.

Coulter adds that you should be willing to unblock the affected companies if Twitter does relent on its stance of protecting Jones. 

The whole effort is happening under its very own hashtag: #BlockParty500. It’s still early — Coulter only laid out the idea in full, action plan and all, on Sunday. But there’s already a lot of activity at that hashtag, and Coulter herself has provided one update so far (as of this writing) on how it’s spreading.

These types of protests have proven themselves to be effective in recent times, so give it a shot if you’re furious at the double-standard Twitter apparently applied to protect Jones.

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Anith Gopal
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