Twitter Suspends Conservative Account, Liberal Foul Play Suspected

April 30th, 2012 9:53 AM

A not-so funny thing happened on the social media website Twitter Sunday.

As the Washington Times reports, the account of Chris Loesch, the husband of Tea Party leader and conservative writer Dana Loesch, was suspended by Twitter management due to what observers believe was foul play by liberal users of the website that don't like the couple's politics:

Conservative Chris Loesch, music producer and husband of radio host and CNN contributor Dana Loesch, had his Twitter account suspended on Sunday. He was apparently targeted by leftist users who utilized the "Block & Report Spam" function to trigger the social media account's automatic spam algorithm. He was notified of his suspension via an email from Twitter claiming it was due to multiple unsolicited mentions to other users. "You will need to change your behavior to continue using Twitter," the email admonished.

"I never threatened anyone and am careful about being concise with what I write especially in public," Mr. Loesch told The Washington Times. "They were going to make me sign this note that said one more infraction and I would be permanently banned. I wasn't going to do that so I wrote emails to some of their people."

Mrs. Loesch, who also is the editor of Big Journalism, believes a coordinated attack against him came when he started defending her from all kinds of vile messages and threats by liberal antagonists.

As she wrote Sunday:

There have been stories going around of conservatives getting suspended from Twitter over innocuous things while accounts like @KillZimmerman (an account which threatened to kill George Zimmerman) and other such accounts were left active for weeks. After a user remarked about me being raped and murdered, Chris and others defended me.

Anyone familiar with Twitter knows that Mrs. Loesch is regularly bombarded with disgustingly hateful, sexist, and misogynistic messages from her opponents. As she retweets many of them, I have witnessed more than I'd wish to recall.

"It was business as usual for her I suppose," Mr. Loesch told the Times. "Veiled threats, rape and murder comments, the typical liberal misogynist slag. Being the chivalrous and testosterone filled being I am requires me to protect the woman I love and call out the haters for being the 'anonymous internet tough guys' they are...Needless to say they don't like being called out and struck back by reporting me as a spammer or worse."

Mrs. Loesch published a screencap of those tweets:

Despicable, isn't it?

With Mr. Loesch's account suspended, a number of supporters prodded by conservatives Ben Howe and Jerome Hudson began sending tweets with a "#FreeChrisLoesch" hashtag.

"Retweets soon had it trending as one of the top 10 messages being sent in the United States," the Times wrote. "A couple of hours later, his account was reinstated only to be mysteriously suspended again within an hour. So the campaign was renewed, this time asking Twitter to "#FreeChrisLoeschAgain.'"

As Michelle Malkin's new website Twitchy reported Sunday, foul play is suspected:

Just as with @FreeMarket_US last week, Twitter has suspended the account of conservative Chis Loesch. Chis is the husband of talk radio host and CNN contributor Dana Loesch and is very active on Twitter. Once again, Twitter’s reasons for suspending Chris’s account are not clear.

However, as @RBPundit and @lheal point out, it is likely due to liberals abusing Twitter’s system for reporting spam.

The way this works is if enough people send a complaint to Twitter staff that they are being spammed by an account holder, management suspends it as part of the website's terms of use.

As this was happening Sunday evening, I asked Loesch and her supporters why the malcontents wouldn't just go after Dana's account as she is the one they most despise.

Evan Pokroy informed me that her account was "verified" making it incapable of being a spam generator.

If that were the case, why wouldn't all serious members verify their accounts to protect themselves from such attacks?

Comedian Stephen Kruiser told me people can no longer apply to have their accounts verified. That's a decision made by Twitter. Pokroy sent me a link confirming this.

The other theory also espoused was that Mrs. Loesch, having tens of thousands of followers, would be harder to immobilize with such an attack.

The algorithm is likely based on percentage of spam complaints per follower. This would mean the more followers a member has, the more spam complaints would need be registered to have that account suspended.

At the moment, Mr. Loesch's account is still on ice, but he's been informed that Twitter is not only investigating the matter, but is also working on safeguards to prevent it in the future.

As I tweeted myself last evening, this makes a great deal of sense. Twitter is now used by America's political leaders and top journalists. They're certainly not going to participate in a social media website where their account can be so easily removed by opponents.

On the other hand, Hot Air's Ed Morrissey warned Monday:

There actually is a ton of spam on Twitter, usually triggered by key words picked up by autobot searches. In the ideal model — and one that had been working fairly well until now — legitimate Twitter users would report the spam, and Twitter would suspend the accounts. That keeps traffic moving smoothly (a performance level that Twitter occasionally fails to maintain anyway) and disincentivizes spammers, at least to some extent. Now that the Left is abusing the spam mechanism, Twitter will almost certainly have to suspend its use, which means the only people who will win this game are the spammers, and we’ll have no way to deal with the flood of annoying marketing messages.

Although I'm not a software engineer, I imagine there's a solution that doesn't result in more spam on the website.

For instance, a spam complaint could require a link to the offending message itself proving that spam had actually been sent.

Again, this is not my expertise, but as I tweeted Sunday evening, I believe this episode will actually be a good thing in the long run as a safer, more user friendly Twitter will emerge for all to enjoy in the years to come.

Fingers crossed.