Those of you who use Twitter may have noticed that This Writer’s personal account – @MidWalesMike – disappeared between Saturday morning (December 12) and today, December 17.
I received no explanation for the suspension.
Reason suggests it may have happened because of an article I wrote on December 11, regarding the court hearing in which Rachel Riley’s lawyers (she was nowhere to be seen) tried to strike out my defence against her libel claim.
The judge reserved her judgment, meaning she would provide it in written form at a later date. I was then able to write a story providing details of the legal submissions and the evidence on which they were based.
It seems possible to me that this upset some people. Riley’s strategy has always seemed to be about preventing the case from being discussed in court, using a series of legal applications in a bid to drain me of funds.
This has been unsuccessful because thousands of people have supported my CrowdJustice appeal for funds – and have continued to do so. The total raised so far stands at nearly £105,000.
So it seems the plan changed, and her lawyers were given carte blanche to try to have my defence struck out.
But this meant a court hearing would be necessary and the nature of the evidence would have to be discussed.
Perhaps they were gambling on a swift decision that would render my evidence useless? If so, they were disappointed. As judgment was deferred, I published my article on the evening of December 11.
I awoke the following morning to discover messages from a number of Twitter friends, raising the alarm that my account had been suspended.
On discovery that this was true, I emailed Twitter Support, asking the obvious questions: why had my account been suspended? Why had I not been notified? Why had I not been given the right of appeal? I later received a response saying that the suspension would be reviewed. I have received no further communications on this line of inquiry.
This yielded results – yesterday (December 16), after I sent a polite but impatient reminder.
I was asked to provide details of exactly what I wanted, along with proof of my identity.
So, with help from a friend who has experience in such matters, I responded as follows:
I require all and any information relating to the decision to suspend my Twitter account … to include but not restricted to:
- Any e mails in which I am mentioned both internal and external to Twitter.
- Transcripts or notes of phone calls in which I am mentioned both internal and external to Twitter.
- Memos in which I am mentioned both internal and external to Twitter.
- Notes of meeting in which I am mentioned both internal and external to Twitter.
- Where automated decisions were made about the account on that date, I require full details of the automated decision making process.
- Please note that if any of the information requested above includes reference to a third party or parties, you may redact the third party information and make that information available to me. You should not use the fact that the information contains third party information as a reason to refuse to supply me with that information.
Please note that you must comply with this Subject Access Request without undue delay and at the latest within one month of receiving the request.
I include this information for any readers who may find themselves in the same position in the future.
However, I hope that anybody else trying it does not receive the subsequent response.
I had been given a link via which I was to send this information – but when I tried, an on-screen message appeared, stating “Invalid or archived case”.
For clarity: a Subject Access Request cannot be closed offhand by the recipient. They have a legal duty to respond within the time limit specified. I have written to Twitter Support, reminding the organisation of this fact.
While I await the response, I find myself wondering why Twitter is being so evasive.
Was the reason for suspending my account insubstantial? Was any complaint made using false information? Did the social media platform fail to carry out simple checks to see if any complaint was accurate? Are Twitter’s bosses concerned that this could be embarrassing for them?
Remember: I am neither the first nor last left-wing writer to have had an account suspended recently. The phenomenon has led to a hashtag: #StopTheLeftPurge.
It would be extremely harmful to Twitter if evidence showed that the site has shown political bias by suspending or deleting accounts on political grounds – or on the basis of false complaints by others acting for political reasons.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
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