Saturday, October 27, 2018

Twitter was too busy banning ‘Russians’ to notice #MAGAbomber's threats

By Nebojsa Malic - October 27, 2018 at 11:29AM

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The history of criminal behavior and online threats by Cesar Sayoc, the Florida man charged with sending suspicious packages to prominent Democrats, somehow went ignored by both government and social media police.

Sayoc, 56, was arrested on Friday, and stands accused of sending pipe bombs - 14, as of the last count - to former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, actor Robert De Niro, billionaire Democrat donors George Soros and Tom Steyer, and several Democrat lawmakers.

Federal authorities have refused to speculate on the suspect’s motives, but news outlets quickly pored over Sayoc’s social media feeds, finding photos and videos of pro-Trump memes, Trump rallies, and abusive language towards Democrats. A van in which he reportedly lived, after losing his home to foreclosure, was covered in pro-Trump decals. Twitter #Resistance activists, who had already coined the term “MAGAbomber” to describe the suspect, rejoiced.

It was Sayoc’s prior run-ins with the law that allowed the FBI to find him, matching a fingerprint and DNA from some of the packages to samples they had on file. His criminal record shows charges of grand theft, misdemeanor theft, battery, felony steroid possession, and even threatening a bomb attack in 2002 - leaving an open question of how he kept getting away with it all, over and over again.

Then there is the matter of Sayoc’s social media accounts. Over the past two years, under intense pressure by Democrats and drummed-up charges of “Russian meddling,” Twitter and Facebook have cracked down on users left and right. Time and again, people engaging in protected free speech have been “shadowbanned” or suspended, permanently or until they deleted posts someone reported as “offensive.”

Yet when Democratic strategist Rochelle Ritchie actually reported Sayoc’s account to Twitter two weeks ago, over a threat she received from him after appearing on a Fox News show, Twitter did not find the post objectionable.

Richie then received an email from Twitter saying the previous response to her complaint had been “an error.”

Whether Twitter had made an honest mistake, or scrambled to engage in damage control, is sort of immaterial at this point. Some of his posts have been archived, but not responses to them. All that suspending his account accomplished is to make it more difficult to parse the Florida man’s motives. By the way, Sayoc’s Facebook page was likewise taken down on Friday.

Both Twitter and Facebook claim they are trying to improve “conversations” on their platforms, and that their purges are nonpartisan. While technically correct, that’s misleading. Establishment figures and outfits somehow always skate, while both critics of Clintonism on the left and Trump Republicans end up under the banhammer.

Meanwhile, the social media giants continue to insist they are not publishers, and delegate the dirty work of policing to quasi-NGOs like the National Endowment for Democracy and the Atlantic Council. They end up deciding who’s a “Russian bot” or “Iranian troll” based on arbitrary criteria, which the mainstream media repeats uncritically.

That someone like Sayoc ended up under the radar of both the authorities and social media police suggests that he was either deliberately tolerated, or that their “defense of democracy” is a sham. It is perhaps fitting that none of Sayoc's bombs actually exploded; the only thing they blew up in the end seems to be some illusions.

Reprinted with permission from RT.

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