Right-wing extremists are working in concert to file false complaints in order to “purge” a reported list of 5,000 people from Twitter, including progressive journalists, Democrats, celebrities and researchers.
An early hint about the operation was revealed last month in “Right Side News” posts on the right-wing social media platform Telegram. Organizers have falsely claimed that the targeted Twitter profiles are “antifa” (a shorthand term for anti-fascist activists) or “followers of antifa.”
The Elm Fork John Brown Gun Club, a defense group for “marginalized communities,” called the hit list an attempt to “deplatform the left.” The group posted a list on Twitter of 5,000 names it said have been targeted on Telegram.
Though many are prominent progressives, it’s a mystery why some are on the list, such as Britney Spears.
Among those thrown off Twitter shortly after Elon Musk took over was Chad Loder, an anti-fascist researcher who identified a Proud Boy member involved in the 2021 U.S. Capitol riot, and journalist Vishal Pratap Singh, who has reported on far-right protests in Southern California.
Loder attributed his Twitter exile to an “organized mass reporting campaign” against left-wing Twitter users coordinated by a right-wing group called Zanting, reported Business Insider.
Loder shared screenshots with Insider of messages on Telegram with thousands of followers, including Proud Boys and QAnon disciples, celebrating his suspension.
Journalists who had never been warned or punished for breaking any Twitter rules have suddenly been suspended or banned from Twitter based on false accusations, they told HuffPost.
Author and sports journalist Teri Thompson, former sports editor of the New York Daily News, told HuffPost she received an email Thursday from Twitter informing her that her account was suspended for “violating Twitter rules against ‘platform manipulation and spam.’”
She was told she could not “artificially amplify or suppress information or engage in behavior that manipulates or disrupts people’s experience on Twitter.”
Not only was she completely perplexed about her “violation,” Thompson said, she was “confused how this reaches the level of a Twitter black list.” She has been on Twitter 14 years without facing any previous disciplinary action.
It’s also not clear if she was on a hit list or had simply annoyed someone who mobilized false complaints against her.
Senior members of Twitter’s trust and safety team before Musk took over were aware of the false reporting campaign against Loder — which is a violation of Twitter’s policies — and had plans to address it, Loder said. But key members of the team have now quit or been fired.
“There’s nobody minding the shop anymore,” Loder said. Twitter’s trust and safety team is now “maybe 5% of the original staff, so what’s happening is mass-reporting is allowed to succeed because there’s no one double checking whether these reports are valid or not.”
The crackdowns over false complaints are ironic given new Twitter owner Musk’s vow to protect “free speech” on the platform.
He has, meanwhile, reinstated the accounts of former President Donald Trump and Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West. Trump had been “permanently” suspended for glorifying violence before, during and after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Ye’s antisemitic messages were blocked. Yet Ye told Alex Jones in his podcast on Thursday: “I like Hitler,” and “I ... love Nazis.”
Loder said Musk’s so-called free speech campaign is actually about bringing back “violent neo-Nazi accounts.” He has “thrown his lot in with far-right extremists and they have his ear,” Loder added.