Earlier this evening, after 16-year-old conservative CJ Pearson was locked out of Twitter on the heels of Laura Loomer’s protest of the tech giant, two rabid left wing activists accused him of deactivating his own account as a “publicity stunt” during a time when Twitter censorship is a hotbed discussion.
A couple of hours after the apparent suspension, Pearson’s account came back online.
The conspiracy started when William LeGate, a former tech wiz kid turned anti-Trump troll, who has a substantial following on Twitter, claimed without evidence that Pearson’s account was not suspended, but rather deactivated by Pearson himself. LeGate is now best known for photos that emerged online of his large nipples.
“Oh, wow,” LeGate said. “You decided to restore your account? You realize people can tell when an account is suspended vs. deleted?”
LeGate posted side-by-side photos of Loomer’s banned account next to Pearson’s suspended account, surmising that since the messages were different, Pearson must have been pulling a stunt.
Conservative activist Ali Alexander advised LeGate to retract his lie, and said that Twitter would soon be providing an explanation for the suspension, and that LeGate’s lie would not hold. LeGate kept up the charade anyway.
“Nope, not retracting anything,” he said. “I never lied, and CJ was never suspended.”
LeGate Tweeted several more times back and forth with Alexander, sticking to his guns about his conspiracy theory.
Media Matters editor-at-large Parker Molloy piled on, spreading the conspiracy to her 146,000 followers.
“This is the same guy who once claimed that Obama blocked him (Obama did not block him) and got attention for it, right?,” she said.
“Ahh it is him! This is what he does!” she continued, linking to an article from now-defunct Gawker.
Big League Politics spoke with Alexander, a conservative operative, about the situation.
“It’s no secret that I have conversations with Twitter executives, and I’ve been one of the proponents of Twitter having conversations with conservatives,” he said. “I made it very clear to them that a 16-year-boy should not be defamed and lied about by left wing conspiracy theorists. I also made it clear to Twitter that this was their mistake and they needed to own it.”
Alexander also denounced the conspiracy theorist’s smears as an attempt to drudge up rumors about Pearson from the past.
Twitter made an official statement about the ban from its communications account shortly after Alexander and LeGate’s spat. As it turns out, Alexander was right.
“Our systems automatically locked CJ Pearson’s account in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). As soon as we were alerted to the error, we reactivated it. It will take a couple of hours for the follower count to return to normal,” the company said.
Our systems automatically locked CJ Pearson's account in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). As soon as we were alerted to the error, we reactivated it. It will take a couple of hours for the follower count to return to normal.
— Twitter Comms (@TwitterComms) November 30, 2018
BLP asked Alexander if Twitter’s explanation for the ban was legitimate, or it was just a pretext for conservative censorship.
“I don’t what this was, but it was one hell of a coincidence,” Abkar said.
Neither LeGate nor Molloy responded to a request for comment.
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Twitter Suspending Bloomberg Bots for Coordinated Fake Engagement
The Bloomberg campaign is taking a page from the strategy of supposed Russian bots.
Twitter began suspending more than 70 pro-Michael Bloomberg accounts from its platform on Friday, citing supposed inauthentic and coordinated behavior.
The platform was alerted to the suspicious behavior by the Los Angeles Times, and shortly after began suspending the accounts.
The reports of the Bloomberg bots are reminiscent of the claims of Russian bots waging influence campaigns in U.S elections. Both operations apparently involve scripted messaging, fake political engagement, and platform manipulation.
Evidence of identical messaging being spread by dubious pro-Bloomberg accounts was published by the Los Angeles Times in their report on the matter Friday.
A statement from Twitter on the suspensions confirmed the Bloomberg shill accounts violated the platform’s rules by “creating multiple accounts to post duplicative content” and “coordinating with or compensating others to engage in artificial engagement or amplification, even if the people involved use only one account.”
The accounts avoid direct connections to the Bloomberg campaign, in an attempt to avoid being identified as coordinated shill accounts.
Bloomberg is paying a considerable cohort of “deputy field organizers” $2,500 a month to shill for the New York oligarch on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. The messaging strategy is relatively unprecedented in American politics, offering cash directly for a constant stream of political messaging on personal social media accounts.
The Bloomberg campaign claims that paid deputy field organizers are required to identify their affiliation with the campaign in a statement regarding the suspensions. As Bloomberg’s online social media strategy copies a page from the book of supposed malicious Russian bots, high-ranking U.S intelligence community personnel are claiming that the Russian bots are active once again in attempts to promote the campaigns of both Bernie Sanders and President Donald Trump.
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