By J Robert Smith
- Dec. 14, 2022
- 3 min read
In January of 2021, when Twitter brass suspended Donald Trump’s very popular and powerful account, it was the last straw for me.
I’d been on Twitter since the autumn of 2013, as I recall. By July 2020, with a lot of sweat equity, I’d built my account to nearly 16,000 followers. I was adding an estimated 100-200 followers daily during that tumultuous summer. The riots and general lawlessness that Democrats were permitting in the cities they ran were fueling my following. Then there was the contentious presidential race. With frequent posts about the Trump-Biden dustup, my profile was rising and reach spreading. A conservative surging in popularity was always a red flag among Twitter’s woke monitors.
Then, suddenly, my new followers slowed to a trickle. Some days, nothing. Then over the course of the next few weeks, my existing following started to dwindle. I went to a Germany-based platform that determines if your Twitter account is being “shadow-banned,” among other surreptitious means of muzzling
members conservatives. My account was being shadow-banned.
Went the reports, Twitter was allegedly purging “bots,” phony accounts. By November 2020, as I recollect, I’d lost about 4,000 followers. Sure, bots have been and are a problem at Twitter. They inflate Twitter’s aggregate count. Twitter’s member volume helps sell advertising and ups pricing.
But purging bots in the middle of a hotly contested election season? Elon Musk questioned Twitter’s price tag in negotiations because, he contended, the platform’s value was inflated by Twitter execs allowing bots to increase its value. Seems a little too coincidently, doesn’t it?