Right-wing media figures are throwing a massive temper tantrum this morning after Twitter began purging bot accounts from the platform, causing some accounts to lose thousands of followers.
Twitter has not responded to requests for comment from various publications, but last week social media bots were drawn into the spotlight after special counsel Robert Mueller handed down an indictment of 13 Russians who allegedly used networks of the automated accounts on social media to stoke political and social divisions in the U.S. Despite the fact that a locked-out Twitter account can be reactivated after a user verifies their account with a phone number, right-wing pundits used the news to further their narrative that they are routinely censored for holding conservative views. Others just seemed upset that they were personally losing followers on the platform.
Project Veritas president James O’Keefe, who has presented video footage of Twitter employees speaking with undercover operatives to claim that Twitter is baselessly censoring conservative viewpoints, weighed in:
Looks like thousands of Twitter users committed the thought crime of tweeting about “God,” “the American flag,” and “guns,” and were taken off the platform. Our undercover reporting into Twitter showed those terms indicate to engineers you are “for sure a bot.” #TwitterLockOut pic.twitter.com/hI88iUEcCD
— James O’Keefe (@JamesOKeefeIII) February 21, 2018
Candace Owens of Turning Point USA claimed that only conservative accounts were affected:
Twitter is currently purging the followers on conservative accounts only. I just lost 3000 followers in one minute. Check out the trending hashtag to confirm that it is ONLY conservative accounts that are being affected.
Holding for an explanation…#twitterlockout
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) February 21, 2018
Scott Presler took the opportunity to do some shameless shilling and urged his followers to vote Republican if they were mad about the lock-out:
If you’re angry about the #TwitterLockOut, then
mark your calendars, RIGHT NOW, for Tuesday, November 6th, 2018.
Make a plan to vote & elect Republicans up and down the ballot. #WednesdayWisdom
— #ThePersistence (@ScottPresler) February 21, 2018
Peter Imanuelson, a far-right activist and Holocaust denier, said that purging fake accounts was a good thing, but that it seemed that “many ordinary accounts, especially conservative ones have been taken falsely at same time”:
So I’ve lost about 1000 followers tonight.
Twitter seems to have been purging alleged bots and fake accounts.
That is a good thing.
BUT seems like many ordinary accounts, especially conservative ones have been taken falsely at same time.
What is going on?#TwitterLockOut
— PeterSweden (@PeterSweden7) February 21, 2018
The Twitter account affiliated with Gavin McInnes’ bizarre “Proud Boys” frat reported it had also lost “a bunch of followers.” Earlier this week, Facebook shut down the Proud Boys Facebook page:
I lost a bunch of followers. #TwitterLockOut
— The Proud Boys (@ProudBoysUSA) February 21, 2018
Dan Bongino said that Twitter should be “ashamed” of clearing out fake accounts and that conservatives “have to organize a response”:
That twitter attack on conservatives hit me too last night. I was deemed “ineligible” to use twitter ads and had followers purged. @twitter should ashamed, we have to organize a response. #TwitterLockOut pic.twitter.com/1Df4jY3Vv6
— Dan Bongino (@dbongino) February 21, 2018
Far-right activist Katie Hopkins said she imagined the lock-out was a “conservative purge”:
— Katie Hopkins (@KTHopkins) February 21, 2018
As Twitter removed accounts, conspiracy theorist Joe Biggs remarked “shit it just dropped another 1,000”:
#TwitterLockOut shit it just dropped another 1,000
— Joe Biggs (@Rambobiggs) February 21, 2018