Ukraine attacks Twitter
Several Twitter accountholders lost their posting privileges for twelve hours after apparently insulting Ukraine. Are Ukraine bots at fault?
Over the last two days, several Twitter accounts received twelve-hour lock notices accusing them of breaking the Twitter Rules. All accountholders were conservative, and all had recently criticized the State visit by Ukraine Head of State Volodymyr Zelinsky. When these suspensions began, conservatives took alarm – and Twitter CEO Elon Musk professed puzzlement. CNAV can now report the solution to the mystery. Ukraine hacked Twitter, and made it look as though the arbitrary and capricious Rules enforcement had returned.
Current state of the Twitter Rules
As CNAV has reported before, the Twitter Rules have one major change only: rescission of the COVID Medical Misinformation Policy. Beyond that, Twitter has one big policy change: no more enforcement of unwritten Rules, nor selective application of the Rules. Twitter Files Releases Three, Four and Five detailed the gradual change of policy from a rules-based policy to a totally arbitrary and capricious one, in which what Yoel Roth said, went. (Yoel Roth served as head of Global Trust and Safety at Twitter until Elon Musk fired him.)
The release of the Twitter Files had one definite intent – to reveal a sorry history Elon Musk wanted to reveal. CNAV believes it might also have had the intent of assuring conservatives that the new Twitter leadership had discontinued such arbitrary and capricious enforcement, selective application of the rules, and some of the more absurd rules. The sudden flurry of suspensions cast doubt on Musk’s sincerity, effectiveness, or both.
The mass suspensions apparently began shortly after Zelinsky came to the United States and addressed a joint session of Congress. This happened on Wednesday evening. Zelinsky demanded more money, saying the billions already provided were not enough. Congress included another $45 billion for Ukraine in its $1.7 trillion Omnibus Spending Bill. Then to add insult to injury, Zelinsky brought an autographed Ukrainian flag into the House, and unfurled it. He also accepted an apparently unseemly public display of affection from Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), outgoing Speaker of the House.
The suspensions begin
Conservatives on Twitter reacted at once, in shock and outrage. The chief source of the outrage was not the PDA from Pelosi, but the unfurling of a foreign flag in the Well of the House. (And to Speaker Pelosi and Vice-Present Kamala Harris holding that flag high while he spoke.) And almost at once, those accounts drew twelve-hour locks, or temporary suspensions.
One of the first to fall was Bow Tied Ranger, who left this tweet:
Almost immediately he drew a twelve-hour lock – not for saying the spectacle made him want Russia to win (which he did say), but for the flag image. Jack Posobiec shared a screencap of the suspension notice.
The grounds: sharing privately produced or distributed intimate media without the consent of the subject. But the image Bow Tied Ranger shared was not an intimate image of anyone.
Another accountholder reported a suspension for the same image.
Several users shared their dismay and suspicion that Twitter had reverted to pre-Musk form.
Eventually, Posobiec reported hearing from multiple accountholders having the same issue:
When it happened to User ALX, Elon Musk replied that he did not find that image in violation.
Then another user suspected that “sleeper Woke agents” were still at Twitter, and blamed them.
User Colin Rugg wondered whether the FBI still had sleepers at Twitter with moderational access:
That started a thread:
(All the accounts Rugg listed have received their privileges back.)
The Ukraine bot theory
Libby Emmons at The Post Millennial took up the story last night. In addition to some of the tweets above, she shared these:
Note: these three accountholders lost their privileges for twelve hours for sharing the image of the Ukrainian flag. The grounds were the same in all three cases: sharing private intimate media without the consent of the subject. The uniformity – and the inappropriateness – of the stated ground itself raised suspicions. Finally Kristen Ruby, a former Twitter employee who earlier shared her insight into how the moderational algorithm worked, shared this:
Here “ML” could stand for Machine Language or for Meta Language, a recognized language for writing heuristic algorithms. A heuristic algorithm works by finding things and act on them. (From the Greek heurisko I find; whence Eureka! I have found it!) Automatic moderation of social-media content relies on heuristic algorithms, and Meta Language is today the most common tool for this.
Yesterday morning Libby Emmons shared this thread to summarize what she now calls a mass reporting incident:
To repeat: Elon Musk disclaimed any desire to suspend those accounts. That leaves three possibilities: U.S. intelligence community “sleepers,” the Twitter algorithm, or bots from Ukraine. Naturally Elon, or whoever replaces him as CEO, will have to ferret out all three. But of the three, Ukraine has the most obvious motive.
Seek whom the crime would profit.Alexandre Dumas
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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