Seriously, what’s going on with social media these days? I’ll give you my story, then maybe you can tell me…
My name is Tim Treadstone. Most people know me better as the parody rapper Baked Alaska (Twitter: @bakedalaska). I’m an entertainer at heart. I live to make people laugh. I’ve always been a libertarian and a patriot, but I never used to be the highly politically-charged person that I am today. That change occurred during the election, when I casually came out in support of Trump at my job.
I was working at Buzzfeed.
I knew that my Trump support wouldn’t exactly be embraced by my openly liberal coworkers, but I did believe they’d tolerate it. After all, hasn’t Buzzfeed always been all about promoting…you know…tolerance? I knew that I respected my coworkers’ rights to their own political beliefs, and—being the chill, easy-going guy that I am—I naturally assumed that the respect would go both ways.
I was wrong. Instantly, my coworkers turned as cold as the winters I’d known back in Anchorage. I stopped getting greeted when I came in for work. I stopped getting invited to meetings. I was made to feel like a leper in my own work environment.
Around this time, I started hanging out with Milo Yiannopoulos on a non-professional basis. Somehow Buzzfeed got wind of my personal friendship with the fiery right-wing activist, and they weren’t happy about it. HR summoned me into their office and issued a thinly-veiled ultimatum that essentially boiled down to: cut ties with Milo or you’re out.
My lawyer, however, insisted that I had the right to hang out with whoever I liked in my private life, and HR ended up retracting their position. Still, I could tell which way the wind was blowing. I resigned from my position as Buzzfeed Video’s social media manager and went my own way.
Since then, I’ve built up my own personal “brand” on social media with over 144,000 people following me @bakedalaska on Twitter. But recently, with Twitter’s new “quality control” policies declaring open season on right-leaning accounts, it’s like I’m back working at Buzzfeed.
During the election I launched #TrumpCup, a Twitter movement encouraging my followers to write “Trump” on the name of their cups at Starbucks. The idea was for Trump supporters to stand in solidarity with their candidate against a massive corporation (Starbucks) that had lashed out against him. It went viral. For days it was Twitter’s #1 trend. It got massive coverage by all the major mainstream press outlets.
The trend came and went and then, out of the blue, it was being used to label me a white-supremacist.
Did you follow that leap of logic just then? Me neither. But apparently it made perfect since to Business Insider’s food correspondent Kate Taylor when she referenced #TrumpCup as effort to normalize white supremacy in her recent article about the new protests against Starbucks. George Soros-funded Media Matters quickly followed her example, echoing her blatantly dishonest accusation against me as though it were fact.
Fed up with being slandered, I fought back against Kate Taylor on Twitter. I called her out on her lies and I also threw in a (completely true) insult about her weight. I knew that the remark would drum up lots of controversy and get more eyeballs on the issue. After all, I wasn’t just striking back for my own cause—I saw an opportunity to shed some light on the left’s all-too-common smear-tactics. I wanted maximum exposure on the utterly fraudulent claims being flung my way just for daring to stand up in support of Donald Trump on social media.
And that’s when Twitter shut me down. They locked me out of my account, holding my 130K following hostage until I deleted the tweet where called out Kate Taylor for the “fat feminist” fraud that she is.
But did Twitter force Kate to retract her false accusations as well? Of course not. No, fake news is fine in Twitter’s books, apparently, so long as it benefits the left. Fat-shaming someone who slandered you though? That’s a ban.
I’m sharing this story because I want people to think about what this incident says about social media today:
Liberals can openly call for a violent coup against Trump’s presidency on Twitter, but I can’t insult a liberal food blogger who’s actively trying to ruin my reputation.
The liberal media can use Twitter to proliferate the idea that violence should be used against political figures you don’t agree with, but certain targeted users can’t call anybody “retarded” on the platform without catching a suspension.
I ask you: how did we get to this point? And just how far is it going to go?
Social media may be owned by private companies, but these days the services feel a lot more like public utilities. Countless websites require you to sign up with your Twitter or Facebook accounts. Small businesses and freelancers depend on social media to maintain a good reputation with clients. For enterprising artists like me, our livelihoods are severely attached to our social media following. When Twitter locks someone like me out of their account, they are directly attacking that person’s financial wellbeing. Do you think the Twitter gestapos are aware of that devastating side-effect, or no?
It’d be one thing if Twitter had an across-the-board “don’t get political” policy, but they don’t. They very clearly favor the left in all the celebrity accounts, features stories, and trending hashtags they promote. And now, as well, in the bans and suspensions they administer.
Why is that, exactly? And what does it mean for those of us who’s personal beliefs don’t align with the “progressive” ideology of the day?
Stay tuned for more.
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