For Fintwit the big news last night was not that the Senate voted not to call witnesses (I don’t think anybody was surprised by that) nor that markets had dropped hard following over more uncertainty about the spreading coronavirus, no, it was the bombshell that popular blogger Zerohedge’s twitter account was suspended.
— Sven Henrich (@NorthmanTrader) January 31, 2020
This morning Bloomberg, after getting confirmation from Twitter, is suggesting the suspension is permanent.
Zero Hedge, which had more than 670,000 followers, was permanently suspended from Twitter https://t.co/WcxE17vOWD
— Bloomberg (@business) February 1, 2020
My general view is that a permanent suspension is too draconian, a mistake and should be reversed.
As to the substance for the suspension Zerohedge doesn’t need me to speak for them. Their site is up and running and they have spoken for themselves. What triggered the suspension was this controversial article last night in regards to the coronavirus: Coronavirus Contains “HIV Insertions”, Stoking Fears Over Artificially Created Bioweapon.
Twitter doesn’t comment on the specific reasons for suspension, but the suspected trigger may have been this sentence:
“Something tells us, if anyone wants to find out what really caused the coronavirus pandemic that has infected thousands of people in China and around the globe, they should probably pay Dr. Peng a visit”.
Buzzfeed apparently reported the post tweet linking to the article suggesting targeted harassment. Twitter is a private company and has the right to enforce its policies. No dispute about that.
Did the posting of publicly available information constitute targeted harassment? Debatable. Zerohedge didn’t threaten violence or encourage violence, they encouraged information seeking on a hot topic. Is there a substantive basis to the base question on the virus being manipulated? I can’t say. But Zerohedge didn’t just make up the allegations, they sourced the twitter account of a public health scientist and Harvard scholar not a dorm room conspiracy theorist.
Look, I get it, some people hate Zerohedge, some think they peddle in conspiracy theories and find they’ve been relentlessly bearish and critical of the status quo. But ironically many of the same people that profess hating Zerohedge also follow them on twitter and read their information.
Most mainstream media journalists I follow also follow Zerohedge for the same reason I follow them: They publish a lot of accurate, pertinent and yes, often times controversial information.
And full disclosure: Many of my public articles have appeared on Zerohedge. Besides publishing their own articles they are also an aggregator publishing voices and opinions that many times would not be heard in any other way, so they give exposure to these voices.
Many times I don’t agree with these voices, yet my own articles have appeared on the site. So what? I don’t need to agree with everything that’s out there and neither does anyone else. We’re supposedly sentient beings with critical thinking faculties and we can make up our own minds.
Now I get it, “May pay him a visit” may be construed in some eyes as potential harassment or a veiled threat. I didn’t take it that way, but I can see where others may disagree. It’s not a phrase I would ever use.
And nobody should feel threatened or harassed and yes, if I had a major publication suggest people may pay me a visit at my place of work I would be none too pleased. Yet Zerohedge didn’t publish private information, they published publicly available information.
So if “pay him a visit” was the trigger Zerohedge may want to apologize and retract and on that basis a temporary ban may have been justified from Twitter’s perspective, but from my perch a permanent ban is an overreach and draconian.
Everybody makes mistakes and Zerohedge is a publishing monster, they put out a ton of information with a respect deserving work ethic, much of it being very useful and pertinent for many of us in the Fintwit community. And this one sentence, if it was the trigger, doesn’t justify a permanent ban.
Zerohedge has been in business since 2009 and has published thousands of articles and hundreds of thousands of tweets. There is no pattern I can discern of targeted harassment. Controversial opinions yes, factual data yes, but no targeted harassment.
Of course there is a twitter account that does indeed engage in targeted harassment on a consistent basis, even putting individuals in danger: @realdonaldtrump.
Calling the press repeatedly enemy of the people has resulted in myriad of death threats to those in the media. Calling certain people ‘traitors‘ suggestive of thinly veiled threats of execution, or asking an audience to “beat the crap out of them” from the power pulpit of the presidency is evidence of a much more ominous, consistent and pattern of targeted harassment then one sentence encouraging the seeking out of more information.
And yes, it’s a pattern and it’s targeting people:
Some may be accusing me of false equivalency, but the results of this pattern is real: ABC News finds 36 cases invoking ‘Trump’ in connection with violence, threats, alleged assaults.
Twitter is the platform that tolerates this pattern.
Now let me be clear: I’m not beating up on Twitter. I’ve gotten harassed and personally targeted many times and Twitter has been on top of it and I’m grateful for their diligence. I just think they should reconsider and reverse the ban and be in communication with Zerohedge to come to a resolution.
Zerohedge is an important part of the twitter community. And while the site will remain standing on its own I personally would miss Zerohedge in my feed, and I suspect so would many others.
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