Twitter Removes Link to Andy Ngo's Address Based on False Accusation

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We got a notice from Twitter today that our account was locked and that we needed to remove a reply in which we posted a link to Andy Ngo's last known address. The notice falsely accused us of posting someone's private personal information on Twitter without their consent. That allegation was completely false. The reply did not contain any private information pertaining to Mr. Andy Ngo whatsoever. It only contained a link to another page on the internet and the statement "[at]teamraccoonpdx Just noticed you got doxxed by MrAndyNgo again. We have his last known address" followed by a URL (https://copblaster.com/blast/25994/andy-cuong-ngo-the-internets-biggest-snitch). A tweet containing a URL and a description of its content is not, absent the inclusion of private information in that description, private information.


Twitter did not give much of an explanation for their actions other than saying "You may not publish or post other people's private information without their express authorization and permission." We were then given the option to appeal or remove the content. We removed the content hoping to unlock our account while our appeal was pending but instead were not given the option to appeal after removing the content. They just counted that as a strike against us and we no longer have an option to appeal. If it happens again we will appeal and wait the 12 hours to get our account unlocked rather than take the easy way out by removing the content since it seems their UI is designed to trick people into just removing stuff.


We reviewed the Twitter policy on private information and found nothing in it prohibiting the sharing of URLs. Twitter cites several examples of prohibited forms of personal information. Home addresses are on that list, but our Tweet did not contain a home address. It only contained a URL and a comment that the address could be found there. At no point in their policy does Twitter state that one cannot share a URL linking to page containing private information.


In addition, the Twitter policy on hacked content (https://help.twitter.com/en/rules-and-policies/hacked-materials) specifically says that links to such content is prohibited. They list as an example of prohibited behavior "posting Tweets which include links to hacked content hosted on other websites." By contrast the personal information policy contains no such language. If posting a link to a page containing personal information violates the policy then the wording of the policy is not sufficient to put users on notice of what violates it. If it were a criminal statute that would be enough have it declared unlawful if enforced in such cases, but unfortunately the policies of a company are not subject to the same checks and balances required to find someone in violation of the law.


This is the kind of stuff Donald Trump was talking about when he attacked the Communications Decency Act (CDA). A situation where big tech can gag people because they control the channels of communication. We always said that attacking the CDA was not the way to go about fighting censorship. The right way to go about it would be to declare social media platforms with large market shares public goods and prohibit them from censoring people or face stiff fines. This type of Orwellian oversight is the kind of thing that Ted Kaczynski was trying to stop before he got labeled insane by the government and fake news media.

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