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Cancelled by Twitter? It’s the modern-day equivalent of being put in the stocks.

By Over it*

Imagine if you will; hundreds, if not thousands of mostly anonymous people, who have never met, and are unlikely to ever meet, warring publicly with each other on a public forum. Welcome to the world of #auspol on Twitter.

If you haven’t come across #auspol on Twitter, then consider yourself fortunate. I’d advise you stay away at this point. If you’re on Twitter and managed to keep away from the personal scraps, then please ensure that continues, for the good of your own mental health.

A couple of years ago I thought I had found ‘my tribe’ when I found the #auspol progressive community. Fast forward to 2021 and I’m looking at the Twitter community with a new set of eyes.

The #auspol community is a section of the Australian community who use that hashtag to discuss what’s going on in the news. Many Tweeps, as we’re known, left Facebook because of the toxicity they found there, and gravitated towards Twitter for better interactions, and less ‘fake news’.

Around the time of the last federal election, I was relieved to have found what I thought was my ‘happy place’ – a place where like-minded politically aware progressives discussed the news and current affairs. I loved the exchange of ideas and polite discussion of viewpoints. I don’t get that in my non-Twitter world as my social circle is generally disengaged from politics.

News breaks on Twitter before it breaks in mainstream media. In fact, news still breaks on Twitter that doesn’t even make it to mainstream media. I learned so much from the Twitter community. In addition, having always been an activist, I was able to be part of, and support activist activities that Australians outside of Twitter are often not aware of.

On the positive side Twitter #auspol is a platform where progressives discuss the horror show that is the LNP Government. We agree that the Fourth Estate has failed Australia. Virtual friendships form across this vast country of ours on Twitter. Dog and cat photos are shared. Memes and satirical video clips liked and retweeted. Where else can ‘everyday Australians’ (I hate that phrase, but it works here) comment directly to a renowned journalist, politician or celebrity and sometimes even receive a reply?

Until early this year, I only ever experienced the positive side of Twitter #auspol. It was my first port of call in the mornings to read up on the news from around the world, and usually the last thing I looked at before going to sleep.

I had seen Tweeps refer to it as ‘the hell site’ but I never really knew why. I’d only had constructive engagements, bar a few cases of troll nonsense. I assumed the moniker ‘hellsite’ was down to the trolls that hang out there.

But it turns out trolls aren’t the worst of it. You can report and block trolls. You can even report the President of the United States for inciting violence on Twitter, and eventually he’ll be kicked off the platform, albeit 4 years too late.

But in recent weeks Twitter #auspol has earned its reputation as a hell site. Regardless of how big or small your following is, you can be ‘cancelled’ overnight for a 280-character tweet that doesn’t conform to the unwritten rules of the ‘shout loudest’ section of the Twitter #auspol community.

In my case you can voice concern over evident wrongdoing by others, but because you’re whistle-blowing against the wrong people (i.e not the LNP or whoever the current villain is) you’ll be bullied so badly that you are forced to close your account. Literally exiled.

I’ve seen several good people fall victim to what can only be described as harassment in recent weeks. People who, like me, have always stood up for decency and anti-discrimination are publicly and wrongly shamed as liars, misogynists, transphobic, terfs, rape apologists and even paedophiles. Assumptions are made about people without putting in any effort in to find out what that person is about. You’re presumed guilty until proven innocent. But the likelihood is you’ll never get the opportunity to prove your innocence.

It’s the modern-day version of being put in the stocks. The mob joins in and before too long, people you thought of as your friends are throwing the cabbages, metaphorically speaking. Or they’re not throwing anything at all, because they’re understandably standing back and not getting involved for fear of being the next one to be targeted. And we wonder how genocide happens.

If kids behaved in a school playground the way I’ve witnessed the gangs of adults in the #auspol community behaving, the teacher on duty would be rounding up all parties and dragging them to the Principal, who would be giving them Friday afternoon detention. But just as at school; the bullies often won, so too are they winning on Twitter.

Why does any of this matter? It’s a social media platform, right? This isn’t real life. In real life nobody calls you the names you’re called on Twitter. In real life the cyber bullies who have called you those names would walk past you in the street, not having a clue who you were anyway. Real people get to know you. They don’t judge you on your 280-character post that didn’t 100% align with their way of thinking.

At the end of the day Twitter accounts are just names on a screen, so why worry?

I worry because there is a bigger picture here. The #auspol community that is turning on each other is generally progressive, or to use another term, ‘leftie’. How are we supposed to join together as one to defeat the LNP at the next Federal Election if we’re intent on tearing each other down. This toxic behaviour literally plays into the hands of the government we’re supposed to be holding to account. The phrase “the left always eats itself” has sadly never been more spot on than it is currently.

In researching this article, I have spoken with other respected Tweeps who have been active on the platform for many years; quotes below:

“The majority of people and views expressed around the #auspol hashtag are thoughtful and positive. Differences of opinion are expressed are typically constructive.

That, dare I say, is why the Morrison Government puts a lot of effort into dumping on Twitter.

However, it is fair to say that part way through this year a particularly vindictive element has emerged where the ‘in thing’ is to pile on and mob people whose views do not fit the binary views of that element. It’s a destructive approach that disrupts the constructive and critical dialogue clustered around #auspol that clearly rattles this government. A remarkable coincidence.

More unites us than divides us and to be wary of views and behaviours that sow disunity and mobbing and, in doing so, do the job this government would like. As for those who resort to blatant bullying, mobbing and intimidation – everyone should report them to Twitter.”

……

“After 10 wonderful years, I’m done with Twitter.

Twitter has always been my passion.

My way of taking the fight to the LNP and the far right.

The vile disgusting slanderous bile has sunk to new depths.

The latest is to accuse innocent people of being transphobic.

A certain clique of hate filled people have infected Twitter with their only desire is to fight, bicker, hurt and slander.

Trolls never bothered me.

I ate them for breakfast.

But this is a more hate filled disgusting trolling that I’ve never experienced on twitter in 10 years.”

 

*Name withheld

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13 comments

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  1. Joe Carli

    Righto…I’ll kick off the conversation…and this was posted way before the rapid rise of “identity politics” that has all but destroyed The Left and played right into the hands of the LNP….check the commentary…and BTW..what has happened to “Dianaart”?…did she turn over a new “Leefe”?

    https://theaimn.com/just-who-controls-the-conversation-of-left-wing-politics/

  2. pierre wilkinson

    the LNP have a select cadre of trolls and bots who haunt social media, expressing their venomous bile whenever the opportunity arises, often masquerading as “lefties” themselves
    their modus operandi has changed recently, as now they have realised that if they infiltrate certain alternate sites, they can then spout utter nonsense, vitriol and spite, all as supposed members of the group they hope to close down
    then they report their alter egos to the facebook police, clamouring for the group to be closed down due to the negative outrageous posts that they themselves have written
    and so it goes

  3. Kathryn

    I agree, Overit* – it doesn’t matter what type of media you read these days, the sick, twisted, hate-filled views shared by the callously inhumane, intolerant right-wing extremists in the Liberal National Coalition (and their gormless Murdoch-manipulated supporters) are there ready to offend, malign and attack ANYONE who does not “toe the line” by not supporting their depraved ideology!

    What have we become under the hate-filled, xenophobic racist, skirt-lifting misogynistic ideology of the criminally corrupt Abbott/Morrison regimes? It is hard to imagine that only 8 short years ago (under the progressive Gillard/Rudd governments) this country was considered a “leader” in the western world, a tolerant, forward-thinking progressive democracy that welcomed positive change instead of the malignantly insular xenophobic conservatism of a hate-filled, war mongering, misogynistic pack of white alpha male supremacists who have nothing but snivelling, condescending contempt for Australia and Australians – especially ANYONE who is, in any way, vulnerable or down on their luck!

    The toxic, mean-spirited elitism and callous inhumanity of the Abbott/Morrison regimes – all hidden under a very thin veil of psuedo-christian bible-thumping hypocrisy – has dragged this nation into a very bad place where we now see the skirt-lifting misogynists within the Liberal National Coalition going out of their way to support and protect vile rapists in their midst; where the LNC treats desperate Australian citizens (of Indian descent) like criminals refusing them entry into their OWN chosen homeland and abandoned to die overseas; where Australia (once so admired overseas as a compassionate nation) is now viewed as the “Pariah of the Pacific”! Abbott and Morrison have – in only eight short years – destroyed our international reputation, vandalised our environment (to appease their billionaire donors in the polluting mining, gas and tree-lopping industries), annihilated our economy through their increasing level of self-serving corruption, rorting and criminal WASTE of hard-earned taxpayer funds on insane schemes that have not provided a single benefit to assist ordinary Australians but, rather, enriched and empowered billionaires, like Gina Rinehart, Clive Palmer and, of course, the appalling Propaganda Minister for the LNC, the non-Australian, American predator: Rupert Murdoch!

    Abbott and the bone-idle Sloth Morrison who “can’t lift a hose, mate”, have failed to achieve a SINGLE thing to benefit the lives of ordinary Australians. Instead, they have revealed themselves to be Grim Reapers, annihilators and gormless destroyers who have defunded our lives into oblivion, torn away BILLIONS of federal funding from our children’s education, ripped away countless BILLIONS from Medicare and health services whilst pouring more than SEVEN MILLION into Morrison’s CULT of Hillsong and other causes close to Morrison’s heart who are now the sole beneficiaries of OUR hard-earned taxes! OUR taxes going to fund, feed and support politically-motivated causes that will provide benefit to a cruel, neoliberal regime that is up to their necks in self-serving corruption and criminal nepotism!

    Australians FFS WAKE UP! Look back over the last eight long, depraved years – can you even recognise what we have become? Australia (in general) has turned into the national “representation” of the Liberal National Coalition: a selfish, insular and smug nation; turning our backs on our desperate neighbours in the Pacific; attacking and vilifying our most vulnerable citizens and completely ignoring the worst, most horrific, criminality within a government overflowing with callous, self-serving sociopaths, smug sneering narcissists and appalling misogynistic predators!

    KICK THE MISCREANT SOCIOPATHS IN THE LIBERAL NATIONAL COALITION TO THE KERB! WE DESERVE SO MUCH BETTER! VOTE LABOR – the ALP are NOT perfect but, my God, they are infinitely better, more humane and more compassionate than the depraved psychopaths that form the LNC.

  4. RomeoCharlie29

    I am not,and have never been on Twitter. However from my reading of other sites, not even those with political inclinations, I am both astounded and distressed at the negativity and downright offensiveness of some people who choose to comment, seemingly only with criticism that is not constructive. It does indeed come from the top. When the example most people have of “success” is an incompetent, lying, slick, motor mouth who can spout bullshit on demand, it is no wonder that is the sort of stuff that is infecting the comment sites. Over it and Kathryn you have told it as it is, sadly. When we know what it should be. Those who complain about the Opposition and Albanese need to reflect on the fact that his coverage, or lack of it, and the slant of that coverage — Telegraph front pages are a good example — are all that many people will know of Albanese and his policies. Labor’s 2019 loss has been blamed on a raft of issues around Shorten, including the release of policies the Government was able to lie about, mostly the franked credits issue. The fact that it was to be grandfathered, like negative gearing and the capital gains tax on housing, never made it past the Murdoch gatekeepers. I do believe that Shortennwent a bit mad with new policies in the final days of the campaign in what appeared to be an attempt to pull in voters from outside the Labor mainstream, his big promise on pay rises for childcare workers – noble but it looked desperate and there were others. Had he stuck with the three big ones and hammered the fact that taxpayers were subsidising the second, third and subsequent homes of investors, or the franked credits going to people who didn’t pay taxes, he might have pulled it off. Shorten, of course, also subjected himself to the sort of searching interviews Morrison avoided, and still mostly avoids, the recent Leigh Sales effort being a rare example, and he won’t make that mistake again. Personally it is beyond my comprehension why people listen to the likes of Hadley or even watch commercial television. We truly are becoming a nation of illiterate morons and that’s just the way the LNP want it.

  5. John OCallaghan

    What Kathryn and Romeo said! Spot on…

  6. Joe Carli

    While Kathryn and Romeo may be correct on their subject matter, I don’t believe it was the core issue the author touched upon, which was of “the Left eating itself” by being consumed with identity politics..and truly, I too had to leave Twitter for a break from the totally obsessed “killing machine” of outraged middle-class sensibilities that would not allow the slightest dissent from the “knife-wielding castrators” demanding no less that absolute agreeance to their policies…and the banshee howl of “fair play” can now be seen in the fact that that unholy slime of National Party Politics gets re-elected with an increased majority in the Upper Hunter..by, one presumes, an equal agreeance along class and gender lines…along with any number of dirty dealers in the LNP in the last Fed election up and down the entire East coast getting their seats back with a sometimes increased majority…So it would appear this focusing of identity politics onto singular subjects that seek a “warm-fuzzy” solution are “working well”…and going by the numbers in this by-election, I wonder who will win the next election?

  7. leefe

    Joe:
    I have only ever used the one name here, so I have no idea what you are trying to get at.

    So far I have mostly avoided Twitter, although with some regret — there are users who are worth following. But mostly it’s just not my sort of scene.
    And definitely agree with Kathryn and Romeo.

  8. Michael Taylor

    The right-wingers are getting sneaky.

    I popular hashtag on Twitter is #ScottyFromMarketing. Some right-winger/s came up with the hashtag #ScottyFomMarketing (notice the ‘r’ is missing – instead of ‘From’ it spells ‘Fom’) and a person might inadvertently select the ‘Fom’ version when a list of recommended hashtags pops up when composing your tweets.

    Laying in wait – like trapdoor spiders – are the right-wingers ready to pounce on the unsuspected tweeter. It’s how they ‘find’ the lefties. They then proceed to eat them alive.

    And I do agree that there’s lots of infighting among us lefties. One Labor voter, on being told I voted for the Greens – which I do not; I’ve always voted Labor – subsequently sent me a message which simply read “GFI” (which means “go f*ck yourself). It was later followed with a barrage of nasty bile that was worse than anything I’ve ever received from right-wingers.

  9. DrakeN

    I think it was the lying little rodent ( aka the unflushable turd ) who described the Liberal/National coalition as “…a broad church…” which could also be applied to the ALP.
    More appropriately, though, I would describe both as asylums for the insane and deranged political careerists who infest our legislative and administrative offices.
    There is a lot of infighting amongst us ‘lefties’ Michael and so much of it is driven by the inflated egos of dogmatists and political purists who, like shying horses, afraid of anything which upsets their perceptions, wear metaphorical ‘blinkers’ to avoid observing whatever is not directly in their vision of how the world ought to be.
    The reality of homo sapiens sapiens as being a slightly advanced ape escapes them in their vision of human supremacy, one which ignores the complexity of the natural world and humanity’s place in it; instead they squabble amongst themselves as if all that matters is the promotion of their particular brand of narrow-minded doctrine.
    And the manipulators, who are to be found exploiting every weakness in peoples’ behaviours for their personal advantage, play them like string marionettes.

  10. wam

    But not you drakeN?
    I strolled into Twitter and found it blood pressure dangerous and full of thoughtless mindfarts and closed before the week.
    Will Twitter influence an election? Not unless the bandit and ludsimkims see it advantageous.
    As for the left ‘eating itself’ extremists on the right are not Libs and phon or coalition and phon but the slogan labor and the loonies is alive and well.
    So me drakeN.
    ps
    Michael epic failure it nearly was.

  11. DrakeN

    Not any more, wam.
    I’m old and have had the time and opportunity to read, watch and listen to the chicanery of the political activists and their manipulators for decades.
    Though, with all the truth that is routinely denied us hoi polloi, it is often difficult to be sure of anything.
    To be sure, I am not a ‘tweeter’; I cannot abide the overreaching displays of crass ignorance, vitriol and spitefulness which often gets posted.

  12. wam

    Well said, drakeN I am old but feel like a baby A whisp of hair a couple of teeth and I just piss 4 times a night Saw a picture of an iceberg 80 x the size of manhattan breaking off into the Wendell sea The NZ have lost more glacial ice to global warming than is left why doesn’t these get used to highlight sea rising in the pacific????
    Sadly disingenuous editor driven headline are always visible and the auto cue journalists are usually thick as a brick readers. who interview idiots like fitzgibbon, why??

  13. Pingback: Cancelled by Twitter. It’s the modern day equivalent of being put in the stocks | Reclaim the News

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