On November 25, at the urging of a far-right troll, Elon Musk banned the @crimethinc Twitter account. Musk’s goal in acquiring Twitter had nothing to do with “free speech”—it was a partisan move intended to silence opposition while opening up space for the far right. This underscores the hazards of depending on corporate social media platforms.
Update: Two months after this article appeared, leaked documents confirmed that it was Musk himself who personally ordered the purging of anti-fascist accounts as soon as he took control of the platform.
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On November 24, a white nationalist1 who speaks at conferences alongside Richard Spencer posted a tweet approving of a wave of bans on Twitter. Elon Musk responded favorably to him, and far-right troll Andy Ngo answered Musk, specifically requesting that the @crimethinc account be banned from Twitter. Within a couple hours, Musk had fulfilled Ngo’s request.2
The @crimethinc account on Twitter dates from May 2008. The account has never been suspended or received a warning throughout fourteen years of Twitter administrations. Ngo was not bringing any new material to Musk’s attention, but reposting years-old screenshots. Other Twitter users were banned under similar circumstances today, as well.
Musk’s rhetoric about making Twitter a venue for “free speech” was a lie. Musk bought Twitter in order to impose his agenda on what he saw as the most influential social media platform remaining outside the control of people like himself. Like Donald Trump, Musk brazenly says the opposite of what he means, and his supporters interpret this as a show of strength.
At the same time that he welcomes Donald Trump, white nationalists, and fascists back to Twitter, Musk is purging those who stand in the way of their authoritarian aspirations. Make no mistake, the point of silencing our voices is to prepare the way for other kinds of violence.
A part of the ruling class has always aligned with the far right and fascists. In this regard, Elon Musk is treading a path already worn by Henry Ford, promoting reactionaries who explicitly aim to attack broad sections of the population and popular movements. As in Ford’s day, the rest of the ruling class, including centrists and liberals, hope to benefit from the forcible removal of radical voices from public discourse without having to get their hands dirty.
This is possible, in part, because the majority of employees at Twitter have resigned or been fired. The remaining employees are disproportionately dependent on their employment at Twitter for visas to remain in the United States—a grim example of how borders serve to impose the agenda of the ruling class on workers, even relatively wealthy workers.
When Musk says he’s building Twitter 2.0, he is referencing the transition from the original iteration of the internet—message boards, indymedia, a more or less open and participatory model—to Web 2.0, in which all interactions are shaped by the algorithms of a few tech overlords. They aim to determine what we are able to imagine as well as what we are able to say and do. What has already happened on Facebook and Instagram and is now occurring on Twitter is the inevitable consequence of increasingly widespread dependence on corporate media platforms.
In response, we encourage you to diminish your dependence on Twitter and other corporate media platforms, to explore other sources of information and means of communication. We urge you to mobilize against the far right on every terrain they attempt to seize and to continue organizing against capitalism, state violence, white supremacy, patriarchy, and other forms of oppression. We invite you to talk with your friends and neighbors about what it would take to create a world in which a single billionaire would not be able to control how everyone else can communicate.
Let’s meet in a space where no algorithms or autocrats can determine what we are able to dream and create together.
- The Billionaire and the Anarchists—Tracing Twitter from Its Roots as a Protest Tool to Elon Musk’s Acquisition
- Stand with Anarchist Publishers Banned by Facebook
I can confirm my account was suspended after Elon Musk was told about me by far-right extremists who have tried to get me murdered numerous times. I was also placed on the Nazi-made “antifa” list that is being used by bots to mass report accounts that oppose fascism. My last tweets highlighted the plot to remove my account by abusing the report system as well as certified evidence that Andy Ngo was knowingly friends with famous pedophile Amos Yee. I also highlighted the Nazi past of Gays Against Groomers founder Jaimee Michell. I will not stop my work of exposing fascists despite the organized campaigns to silence and assassinate me.
“When we say abolish Twitter, we don’t mean beg politicians to regulate them. We mean take grassroots action to prevent them from continuing to do harm—until flowers grow in the wreckage of their social media system.”
“Abolishing Twitter means developing ways to communicate and address audiences that do not depend on concentrating all coercive and communicative force into unaccountable institutions. It is a project that extends from our interpersonal and digital relationships to mass action against state and corporate violence.”
-anonymous renouncer of social media
Paul Ray Ramsey (also known as ramzpaul and RamZPaul, born 1963) is a well-known white supremacist. He spoke at the 2013 conference held by the white supremacist online magazine American Renaissance and has made numerous similar appearances in other events organized by explicitly racist groups. Media Matters for America, The Forward, and the Southern Poverty Law Center have all identified Ramsey as a white nationalist. ↩
The same morning, at 9:21 am, we received an email from firstname.lastname@example.org establishing that our account was not in violation of Twitter policy, reading “Twitter is required by German law to provide notice to users who are reported by people from Germany via the Network Enforcement Act reporting flow. We have received a complaint regarding your account, @crimethinc […] We have investigated the reported content and have found that it is not subject to removal under the Twitter Rules (https://support.twitter.com/articles/18311) or German law.” We did not receive any other such emails. This suggests that the decision to ban our account shortly thereafter was dictated by Musk himself. ↩