A Foul Bastards Tale – RATED PG13

I know a guy on Twitter who goes by foulbastard. He is notorious for off-the-wall messages, but seems to me to fall into the category of “person pushing free speech for creative and artistic ends.” Recently, his account ran into trouble, and he found himself unable to use Twitter. I asked him for his story, and he gives it in just a bit. WHY am I sharing this? Because I think there are some points about how communities deal with people who use the tools in ways different than the “norm,” and because it was interesting to hear how Obvious’s Biz Stone (one of the guys behind Twitter) responded.

The following is written by Foul Bastard, with a response written after FB’s piece by Biz Stone. Now, Foul Bastard:

On most days I would normally be found tossing obnoxiously entertaining tweets around Twitter as @FoulBastard but since Monday night Foul Bastard has been silent. Twitter suspended my accounts without notice. The catalyst for these suspensions seems to be my new website http://www.breastsoftwitter.com. The Breasts of Twitter is a blog that contains a collage of Twitter-user submitted breast photos. Originally it was suggested as a joke, but when I opened my email one day and found the first submission I knew destiny was calling. That’s when I started a Twitter account called @TheBreasts (which I like because it sounds absurd) and began following people to promote my project. I collected the photos by asking all of my female followers to contribute. Most of them responded in a friendly and playful manner, several decided to participate; some apparently got upset and blocked me. The collage was posted Monday, March 3rd at 9am and the site received 640 visits that day.

Monday night I logged into @TheBreasts on Twitter, clicked update, and my tweet disappeared into the ether. Having already been suspended once before I was familiar with this behavior. Twitter has an atrocious disciplinary system. When they suspend an account they lock it so that your updates do not appear in any timeline but everything appears functional. They give you no warning that your account has been disabled. This is confusing since Twitter is not known for its technical stability. The first time I was suspended I spent a day thinking that Twitter was just not working right, again.

Now I know better, and I am not accepting this as a harmless lack of protocol. What Twitter did to me was wrong. They suspended both of my accounts and they have not replied to my support requests or the post I put on GetSatisfaction.com. I have no way of knowing why they did this.

Some people have speculated that Twitter banned me because I used their name in my http://www.breastsoftwitter.com website. Maybe, but I think if that were the case and they wanted me to stop they would have gotten in touch with me directly instead of creating a monster. They do have my contact information after all.

The thing I love about Twitter is the freedom it gives you to express yourself any way you see fit. People are free to follow and unfollow you at will; there is no pressure. In fact, I’ve had people unfollow me and then follow back with a different “non-business” account the next day. It’s democracy the way democracy was meant to be. But when people are being silenced because of…well, I don’t know why; Twitter won’t tell me, democracy fails and creativity dies.

As a member of the Twitter community I make an effort to have interesting and unique content. I don’t mind when people unfollow me, despite my occasional rants to the contrary. Of course I believe that if you don’t follow me you’re not cool. If you don’t feel that way too then maybe you don’t believe in your message much. But I never take personal offense when a follower leaves. What offends me is that Twitter has locked my accounts and will not communicate with me at all. I generate content that draws readers to their website. I create content that is broadcast across a global network, and that content directly benefits them, I am a contributor and a customer. It doesn’t matter that Twitter is a free service, it’s a business and their practices are appallingly unprofessional.

The response from my followers has been astounding. Now operating as @FowlBastard I have recovered a large percentage of my follower base and they have been demanding that Twitter unfreeze my accounts. Further, they have created a support avatar with a black ribbon and a large red FB which is being sported all across the Twitterverse. I was elated to see this kind of support. I honestly didn’t know it was there. When it was announced that @Roadhacker had created @FoulBastardArmy and it grew to more than 130 followers I realized just how massive the power of community can be.

That’s why I’ll stick with Twitter and work through this like a bad marriage. I just want them to recognize that there is a problem with their communication and fix it. Had they done that in the first place this whole mess would have been avoided.

FB

http://foulbastard.blogspot.com

I sent this post to Biz Stone, who works for the company who makes Twitter, Obvious. Biz responded quickly with the following:

Twitter does not censure content. Freezing the @foulbastard account was a case of mistaken abuse which we have since corrected.

Because of the opt-in nature of following another person on Twitter we don’t have a spam problem but we do get some folks who try to abuse the system for some reason or another. When enough people block an account on Twitter that usually indicates some sort of attempted abuse—this is how the Twitter community lets us know when something is not quite right.

In the case of @foulbastard, enough people had blocked the account that it raised some red flags and we froze the account. When we learned that this was not a case of abuse, we replaced service. We plan to refine our internal tools so we can more accurately maintain a quality service without stepping on any toes—this is a good learning experience for us.

There are a few points of interest here. One is that Twitter is self-policing. You can’t GET spam if every user has the option to unfollow and/or block a user. Beyond that, the community has mechanisms (lots of people blocking) to signal a perceived misuse of an account. So, in ways, the system protects its own.

In the case of Foul Bastard, this is someone who has a different use of Twitter than most folks, but I don’t see it as particularly malicious or outrageous. Might not be my choice, but if I consider FB to be an artist, then this is his “Jackson Pollock peeing” type of art. Should this be banned? (From Biz’s response, it wasn’t the intent, but I’m asking in the larger sense).

What’s your take on this whole thing? Where are the boundaries? How do the edge players use a service like Twitter?

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  • http://www.artsyasylum.com susanreynolds

    “Of course I believe that if you don’t follow me you’re not cool.”
    All I can say is how sad and small minded really. I’ll take being uncool.

  • http://www.artsyasylum.com Susan Reynolds

    “Of course I believe that if you don’t follow me you’re not cool.”
    All I can say is how sad and small minded really. I’ll take being uncool.

  • http://www.bobbykircher.com Bobby Kircher

    An interesting look at some of the edgier content on Flickr.

    I was curious as to how how Twitter would look upon someone sending updates and it makes me feel good that they’re not as stuffy as Facebook, and still concerned about a user experience, unlike MySpace.

  • http://www.bobbykircher.com Bobby Kircher

    An interesting look at some of the edgier content on Flickr.

    I was curious as to how how Twitter would look upon someone sending updates and it makes me feel good that they’re not as stuffy as Facebook, and still concerned about a user experience, unlike MySpace.

  • http://net-K.us/blog/ Wolfman-K

    Thats Crazy, I call BS on on Biz’s claim that it was an auto disable. Since Twitter is self policing why would they even have an auto disable in place….

    I love Twitter, and I know people makes mistakes the key is just admitting it. Which they did, sort of… but tell the whole truth, tell us you got a complaint and you disabled the account….

    Lame Twitter, Lame.

  • http://net-K.us/blog/ Wolfman-K

    Thats Crazy, I call BS on on Biz’s claim that it was an auto disable. Since Twitter is self policing why would they even have an auto disable in place….

    I love Twitter, and I know people makes mistakes the key is just admitting it. Which they did, sort of… but tell the whole truth, tell us you got a complaint and you disabled the account….

    Lame Twitter, Lame.

  • http://www.chrisbrogan.com chrisbrogan

    Twitter says they disabled it. They don’t actually say anything about auto- anything. Just to be clear.

  • http://www.redcarpetgrouplasvegas.com Chris Shouse

    I hope that Twitter is not blocking and freezing. They are correct we can police ourselves and we have the ability to block who we don’t want to deal with.

  • http://www.chrisbrogan.com chrisbrogan

    Twitter says they disabled it. They don’t actually say anything about auto- anything. Just to be clear.

  • http://www.redcarpetgrouplasvegas.com Chris Shouse

    I hope that Twitter is not blocking and freezing. They are correct we can police ourselves and we have the ability to block who we don’t want to deal with.

  • http://red66.com cgranier

    Twitter is flexible enough for all these uses and many more we haven’t yet thought of. As a community building tool it gives us the power to create communities some may not agree with – and it’s in the intersections of these communities where problems may arise. In the end, it seems this was all one big misunderstanding…

    I liked Stone’s explanation and it’s good to know that Twitter has some mechanisms to deal with potential abuse… although Twitter’s strength lies in how much power each user has over what he receives.

    Let’s see what new ideas @foulbastard (or anyone else, really) can entertain us with.

  • http://red66.com/ Carlos Granier-Phelps

    Twitter is flexible enough for all these uses and many more we haven’t yet thought of. As a community building tool it gives us the power to create communities some may not agree with – and it’s in the intersections of these communities where problems may arise. In the end, it seems this was all one big misunderstanding…

    I liked Stone’s explanation and it’s good to know that Twitter has some mechanisms to deal with potential abuse… although Twitter’s strength lies in how much power each user has over what he receives.

    Let’s see what new ideas @foulbastard (or anyone else, really) can entertain us with.

  • http://www.TheDataDigger.com The Data Digger

    What’s my take? As an American, I believe in the freedom of speech. I like it when companies such as Twitter have a “we will not mediate user to user issues” policy. I chose to join the community. I choose who I follow. I have the choice to leave.

    I have a Second Life. I like Linden Labs “hands off” approach. They do not participate in resident to resident issues. They have given residents all the tools they need to handle their own issues. (Yeah…yeah..yeah..I know I am going to hear flack about that one)

    Why can’t the edge users have a niche? Chances are if an edge user does not attract an audience they will move on. If they do become popular and it is not your cup of tea..no one is forcing you to participate.

    What are the boundaries? Aren’t the boundaries determined by participation? Since Twitter and Second Life are so wildly popular, self governance by community appears to be working. If the community decided they no longer enjoyed the platform and there was a mass exodus…well then the boundary was defined. The company can issue another product offering that conforms to the boundary defined by the community. Oh! I just thought of an example: The Sims Online = EALand.

  • http://www.TheDataDigger.com The Data Digger

    What’s my take? As an American, I believe in the freedom of speech. I like it when companies such as Twitter have a “we will not mediate user to user issues” policy. I chose to join the community. I choose who I follow. I have the choice to leave.

    I have a Second Life. I like Linden Labs “hands off” approach. They do not participate in resident to resident issues. They have given residents all the tools they need to handle their own issues. (Yeah…yeah..yeah..I know I am going to hear flack about that one)

    Why can’t the edge users have a niche? Chances are if an edge user does not attract an audience they will move on. If they do become popular and it is not your cup of tea..no one is forcing you to participate.

    What are the boundaries? Aren’t the boundaries determined by participation? Since Twitter and Second Life are so wildly popular, self governance by community appears to be working. If the community decided they no longer enjoyed the platform and there was a mass exodus…well then the boundary was defined. The company can issue another product offering that conforms to the boundary defined by the community. Oh! I just thought of an example: The Sims Online = EALand.

  • http://net-K.us/blog/ Wolfman-K

    I apologize for my assertion that it was an auto mechanism that froze the account. I read Biz’s statement that way and I made an assumption, but weather it was an automatic script or a human intervention, it was still done without investigation or notification based on a statistic. Which in a way makes it worse…. You’d think that the Human being making the call would check into the account before the action was taken.

  • http://net-K.us/blog/ Wolfman-K

    I apologize for my assertion that it was an auto mechanism that froze the account. I read Biz’s statement that way and I made an assumption, but weather it was an automatic script or a human intervention, it was still done without investigation or notification based on a statistic. Which in a way makes it worse…. You’d think that the Human being making the call would check into the account before the action was taken.

  • http://remarkablogger.com Michael Martine, Blog Consulta

    I’m sure you could have all kinds of crazy fun with Twitter in ways it wasn’t originally designed for… that’s half the fun!

  • http://remarkablogger.com Michael Martine, Blog Consultant

    I’m sure you could have all kinds of crazy fun with Twitter in ways it wasn’t originally designed for… that’s half the fun!

  • http://www.theviralgarden.com Mack Collier

    “Having already been suspended once before I was familiar with this behavior.”

    LOL! So he keeps engaging in the same behavior, and keeps getting suspended, is that what he’s saying?

  • http://www.theviralgarden.com Mack Collier

    “Having already been suspended once before I was familiar with this behavior.”

    LOL! So he keeps engaging in the same behavior, and keeps getting suspended, is that what he’s saying?

  • http://TheFemGeek.com thefemgeek

    I am glad you took this further. You really educated me on the workings of Twitter and how they have chosen to handle spam. As far as FoulBastard I really got the impression that this was a case of some people possibly having fear of spam and those with malicious intent because of their views on what he was doing. If those who didn’t like what he was doing was to just un-friend him there wouldn’t have been an issue of him having so many blocks. And then there are those who may have felt that what he was doing (I guess they weren’t reading his post to know he actually interacts with others in Twitter) was too similar to what spammers do so they saw the block option and ignored the action of un-friending him. While this was happening I thought it was ironic how those who were opposing FoulBastard (his Breastof Twitter may have seemed degrading to them) began to use degrading tactics to rid that degradation. Such as starting anti Twitter accounts and trying to get people to band on a concept that the opposers wasn’t sure if everyone opposed. Isn’t this a form of spam, possibly more so than what sparked all this? The one thing that I find that irritates me when it comes to the internet, is the instant banding of ignorance. I have found that few people rarely investigate what it is they oppose. They don’t ask questions nor do they go to the source. If you agree with Biz explanation or not, I commend him for finding out what happened and handling it. I also think if people are fearful of spam, then they should make their accounts only available to friends, you do have this choice. For FoulBastard to have so many blocks that it alarmed Twitter, in my opinion that was malicious intent and that tells me that I need to be watchful of the over opinionated Twitters as they sit along side the spammers who will try to hijack my account away from me. Once again Chris thanks for showing us what it is that a good social commentator does when he comes across an issue that sparks fire under the communities that make up these social networks.

  • http://thefemgeek.com TheFemGeek

    I am glad you took this further. You really educated me on the workings of Twitter and how they have chosen to handle spam. As far as FoulBastard I really got the impression that this was a case of some people possibly having fear of spam and those with malicious intent because of their views on what he was doing. If those who didn’t like what he was doing was to just un-friend him there wouldn’t have been an issue of him having so many blocks. And then there are those who may have felt that what he was doing (I guess they weren’t reading his post to know he actually interacts with others in Twitter) was too similar to what spammers do so they saw the block option and ignored the action of un-friending him. While this was happening I thought it was ironic how those who were opposing FoulBastard (his Breastof Twitter may have seemed degrading to them) began to use degrading tactics to rid that degradation. Such as starting anti Twitter accounts and trying to get people to band on a concept that the opposers wasn’t sure if everyone opposed. Isn’t this a form of spam, possibly more so than what sparked all this? The one thing that I find that irritates me when it comes to the internet, is the instant banding of ignorance. I have found that few people rarely investigate what it is they oppose. They don’t ask questions nor do they go to the source. If you agree with Biz explanation or not, I commend him for finding out what happened and handling it. I also think if people are fearful of spam, then they should make their accounts only available to friends, you do have this choice. For FoulBastard to have so many blocks that it alarmed Twitter, in my opinion that was malicious intent and that tells me that I need to be watchful of the over opinionated Twitters as they sit along side the spammers who will try to hijack my account away from me. Once again Chris thanks for showing us what it is that a good social commentator does when he comes across an issue that sparks fire under the communities that make up these social networks.

  • http://joecascio.net/ JoeCascio

    Well, first of all Biz, the word you want is censor, not censure.

    I unfollowed @FoulBastard months ago, because I found his brand of humor puerile and really not funny – the kind of thing I did to try to “shock” people when I was a teenager.

    But having said that, I completely support him. I may not care for or appreciate his posts, but many others do. As was pointed out, it’s an opt-in world. Everybody has the “off” switch, so there’s no reason to demand someone be silenced.

    I would like to know what the Twitter folks consider “abusive” use of the channel. I’d consider spam bots abusive, but it’s hard to imagine anything a real person with human limitations could do if you have the “off” switch.

  • http://joesvideoetc.blogspot.com Joe Cascio

    Well, first of all Biz, the word you want is censor, not censure.

    I unfollowed @FoulBastard months ago, because I found his brand of humor puerile and really not funny – the kind of thing I did to try to “shock” people when I was a teenager.

    But having said that, I completely support him. I may not care for or appreciate his posts, but many others do. As was pointed out, it’s an opt-in world. Everybody has the “off” switch, so there’s no reason to demand someone be silenced.

    I would like to know what the Twitter folks consider “abusive” use of the channel. I’d consider spam bots abusive, but it’s hard to imagine anything a real person with human limitations could do if you have the “off” switch.

  • http://www.dayngrzone.com Dayngr

    Excellent post, well written. I’m all for freedom of speech and freedom of expression so I don’t think he or other creative types should be banned. We can follow who we want and change our minds at anytime – and many of us do.

  • http://www.dayngrzone.com Dayngr

    Excellent post, well written. I’m all for freedom of speech and freedom of expression so I don’t think he or other creative types should be banned. We can follow who we want and change our minds at anytime – and many of us do.

  • Sprezzatura

    I’m all for freedom of speech, but that’s not the only issue here. I’m more than a little uncomfortable with the whole concept of “Breasts of Twitter”. It’s sexist and degrading.

    And if any of those breast photos start showing up in the public feed, even if you don’t follow @TheBreasts, you can still end up with something NSFW on your screen.

  • Sprezzatura

    I’m all for freedom of speech, but that’s not the only issue here. I’m more than a little uncomfortable with the whole concept of “Breasts of Twitter”. It’s sexist and degrading.

    And if any of those breast photos start showing up in the public feed, even if you don’t follow @TheBreasts, you can still end up with something NSFW on your screen.

  • http://geekmommy.wordpress.com GeekMommy

    This is a complex issue – and I’m a little leery of weighing in on it – because it seems as if the “those who aren’t with us are against us!” mentality has taken hold during this whole episode.

    I’ve never followed @foulbastard – his cup of tea and mine are not the same, despite the fact that we have a number of folks in common. What he twittered about wasn’t an issue for me… I just opted not to follow him.

    But the @thebreasts account? That was horse of a different color… a number of my female twitterpals were followed by that and took offense. I don’t know that he would or wouldn’t have followed me with it – and it doesn’t matter to me – I opted to block the account pre-emptively as soon as I heard of it. Please make a note of the fact that I blocked @thebreasts, but not @foulbastard – I think there’s a distinction there. One is person – the other is not.

    I also tend to block political followbots – because I don’t want to provide the illusion that I support what they stand for if I don’t.

    One of the problems I’m seeing above is that the concept of abuse is being limited to spam.
    There are other ways to abuse other users – even unintentionally.

    I have NO doubt in my mind that FB’s interest is simply a healthy appreciation for female anatomy – I don’t think there was any ill intent on his part.

    The problem is – I’ve worked with guys who had a “healthy appreciation” for female anatomy. Nothing says “you won’t be taken seriously here” in a workplace to a woman like watching an attorney at a major telecomm company try to toss paper clips into the cleavage of his secretary’s blouse on the first day at a new job.
    Hey – I’m sure he was just appreciating her assets – but it let me know to get the hell out quickly.

    The thing is – this project isn’t “the breasts of Twitter” it’s “the breasts of a few willing friends of FB’s on Twitter.” But that’s not the impression that is being given. Representing it as having something to do with Twitter rather than having something to do w/ FB himself is damaging to the rest of us women who are *not* participating in this project of his. Many women use Twitter for business reasons – perhaps they don’t necessarily want to be associated with the concept of “and if you ask me nicely, I’ll tell you which photo on the Breasts of Twitter is mine…” when trying to maintain a professional image.

    I’m sorry. I think it was wrong that the accounts were suspended. But I also think it’s a bit off the mark to pretend that somehow this is all harmless fun that only prudes would object too.

    Twitter was well within their TOS to suspend him. Heck, they could suspend me for posting this and it would still be well within the TOS. But I agree that it was handled poorly. Sometimes, there’s a learning curve on getting processes in place to handle things like that.

    Personally, I think this whole issue has had it’s 15 minutes of fame now. I’m sorry it turned into such a tempest in a teapot… but I don’t think there were any ‘innocent’ parties involved.

    And that’s my long-winded two cents (or more like 72 cents.)

  • http://geekmommy.wordpress.com GeekMommy

    This is a complex issue – and I’m a little leery of weighing in on it – because it seems as if the “those who aren’t with us are against us!” mentality has taken hold during this whole episode.

    I’ve never followed @foulbastard – his cup of tea and mine are not the same, despite the fact that we have a number of folks in common. What he twittered about wasn’t an issue for me… I just opted not to follow him.

    But the @thebreasts account? That was horse of a different color… a number of my female twitterpals were followed by that and took offense. I don’t know that he would or wouldn’t have followed me with it – and it doesn’t matter to me – I opted to block the account pre-emptively as soon as I heard of it. Please make a note of the fact that I blocked @thebreasts, but not @foulbastard – I think there’s a distinction there. One is person – the other is not.

    I also tend to block political followbots – because I don’t want to provide the illusion that I support what they stand for if I don’t.

    One of the problems I’m seeing above is that the concept of abuse is being limited to spam.
    There are other ways to abuse other users – even unintentionally.

    I have NO doubt in my mind that FB’s interest is simply a healthy appreciation for female anatomy – I don’t think there was any ill intent on his part.

    The problem is – I’ve worked with guys who had a “healthy appreciation” for female anatomy. Nothing says “you won’t be taken seriously here” in a workplace to a woman like watching an attorney at a major telecomm company try to toss paper clips into the cleavage of his secretary’s blouse on the first day at a new job.
    Hey – I’m sure he was just appreciating her assets – but it let me know to get the hell out quickly.

    The thing is – this project isn’t “the breasts of Twitter” it’s “the breasts of a few willing friends of FB’s on Twitter.” But that’s not the impression that is being given. Representing it as having something to do with Twitter rather than having something to do w/ FB himself is damaging to the rest of us women who are *not* participating in this project of his. Many women use Twitter for business reasons – perhaps they don’t necessarily want to be associated with the concept of “and if you ask me nicely, I’ll tell you which photo on the Breasts of Twitter is mine…” when trying to maintain a professional image.

    I’m sorry. I think it was wrong that the accounts were suspended. But I also think it’s a bit off the mark to pretend that somehow this is all harmless fun that only prudes would object too.

    Twitter was well within their TOS to suspend him. Heck, they could suspend me for posting this and it would still be well within the TOS. But I agree that it was handled poorly. Sometimes, there’s a learning curve on getting processes in place to handle things like that.

    Personally, I think this whole issue has had it’s 15 minutes of fame now. I’m sorry it turned into such a tempest in a teapot… but I don’t think there were any ‘innocent’ parties involved.

    And that’s my long-winded two cents (or more like 72 cents.)

  • http://twitter.com/jesatiu jesse

    . material appealing to the prurient interest was “material having a tendency to excite lustful thoughts”

    I’m in a hurry, this may be a bit disjointed…yet it brings up so many topics…this one argument cuts to core issues that affect a community, and a society. We have the ability to determine that book burning is good for awakening awareness to books that might be burned, and then stopping such activity. Along the lines of, any publicity is good publicity. Destroying something is a sure way to get people to try to protect that which is attempting to be destroyed. Referenced above as a measure of self correction.
    Further, creating free speech allows a situation to occur that creates a need to protect free speech, expression and intelligent advance in human condition; the process of being human in a linear fashion. Another self-corrective tendency. We can’t, and therefore won’t (and shouldn’t), cease to function as an advancing form of life, or, an advanced life form.

    Chris should be commended for extending the forum of discussion…the events of the evening of @foulbastard’s “censoring” created news of a rogue deviant promoting material and content offensive to the sensibilities of certain, but not necessarily ordinary, humans. But I love controversy, so I followed along…

    The rulings of the Supreme Court and acts of the Congress of the United States of America are “relatively clear” regarding these issues…
    Back to definitions in a moment, but consider the New Hampshire Court:
    Chapter 650; Obscene matter
    http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/lxii/650/650-mrg.htm
    It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this chapter that dissemination was restricted to:
    I. Institutions or persons having scientific, educational, governmental or other similar justification for possessing obscene material; or
    II. Non-commercial dissemination to personal associates of the accused who are not under 18 years of age. *emphasis added*

    Twitter must, MUST inform the community, openly on each page, if it is believed the person who signed up for the page is a minor (what to do in the cases of minors posing as non-minors is of interest to me, by the way…) so that no community member can be guilty of, or knows that they will be guilty of it if they ignore the open warning, publishing obscene material to a minor.

    Logistically, it is not possible to do this, therefore, it is assumed that the personal associates of users are not known to be minors.

    To protect the innocence of children we would expect minors to be delineated in some way, but again, this is not possible. A twitter user does not necessarily know when a person is following them, or the age of that user. It returns to the responsibility of the caregiver of the minor to protect the minor, in this case.

    The human body is not obscene. Images of breasts should not necessarily be sufficient nor instinctively appeal “to the prurient interest.” “Prurient” is defined to mean “that which incites lasciviousness or lust.” The internet is an intellectual opportunity for challenging fringe material and thought, thought which would be expected to be created by the advancing .intelligence of advanced intelligence forms of life.

    Consider the following Congressional Findings:
    (3) The Internet and other interactive computer services offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse, unique opportunities for cultural development, and myriad avenues for intellectual activity.
    (4) The Internet and other interactive computer services have flourished, to the benefit of all Americans, with a minimum of government regulation.
    (5) Increasingly Americans are relying on interactive media for a variety of political, educational, cultural, and entertainment services.
    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/47/230.html

    Precedent for obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable leads us back to the Cases of:
    ROTH v. UNITED STATES, 354 U.S. 476 (1957)
    BROCKETT V. SPOKANE ARCADES, INC., 472 U. S. 491 (1985)
    Beauharnais v. Illinois, 343 U.S. 250 .
    Broadrick v. Oklahoma, 413 U. S. 601 (1973),
    Mutual Film Corp. v. Industrial Comm’n, 236 U. S. 230, 242
    Memoirs v. Massachusetts, 383 U. S. 413 (1966)
    Miller v. California, 413 U. S. 15 (1973)
    And of course, the 1873 Comstock Act.
    Let’s not go back to 1873…please. (1989- Virgil v. School Board of Columbia County does this in its own right, banning work including Aristophanes’ Lysistrata and Chaucer’s The Miller’s Tale.)

    Censor only in violations of terms of service, which must be clear, and cases of criminal activity, including activity defined as obscene, when taken in whole, to the sensibilities of reasonable persons

    Anyone who does not know the law, does not know how the law protects against censorship, and makes complaint so as to instigate turmoil regarding issues which do not violate law or invoke the duty of the Union, in upholding law, to suspend the area of constitutionally protected freedom of speech or press either (1) under the First Amendment, as to the Federal Government, or (2) under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, as to the States. Pp. 481-485, is creating a nuisance and should be reprimanded.

    We won’t be silenced or censored unless we are breaking the law or violating an explicit terms of service agreement.
    Just unfollow those users whose updates you find uninteresting, offensive to your tastes, or otherwise unsuitable for you. Leave the rest of us alone to decide for ourselves.

    First Amendment Center
    Libraries and banned books:
    http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/Speech/libraries/topic.aspx?topic=banned_books

    http://jesseloop.blogspot.com

  • http://twitter.com/jesatiu jesse

    . material appealing to the prurient interest was “material having a tendency to excite lustful thoughts”

    I’m in a hurry, this may be a bit disjointed…yet it brings up so many topics…this one argument cuts to core issues that affect a community, and a society. We have the ability to determine that book burning is good for awakening awareness to books that might be burned, and then stopping such activity. Along the lines of, any publicity is good publicity. Destroying something is a sure way to get people to try to protect that which is attempting to be destroyed. Referenced above as a measure of self correction.
    Further, creating free speech allows a situation to occur that creates a need to protect free speech, expression and intelligent advance in human condition; the process of being human in a linear fashion. Another self-corrective tendency. We can’t, and therefore won’t (and shouldn’t), cease to function as an advancing form of life, or, an advanced life form.

    Chris should be commended for extending the forum of discussion…the events of the evening of @foulbastard’s “censoring” created news of a rogue deviant promoting material and content offensive to the sensibilities of certain, but not necessarily ordinary, humans. But I love controversy, so I followed along…

    The rulings of the Supreme Court and acts of the Congress of the United States of America are “relatively clear” regarding these issues…
    Back to definitions in a moment, but consider the New Hampshire Court:
    Chapter 650; Obscene matter
    http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/lxii/650/650-mrg.htm
    It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this chapter that dissemination was restricted to:
    I. Institutions or persons having scientific, educational, governmental or other similar justification for possessing obscene material; or
    II. Non-commercial dissemination to personal associates of the accused who are not under 18 years of age. *emphasis added*

    Twitter must, MUST inform the community, openly on each page, if it is believed the person who signed up for the page is a minor (what to do in the cases of minors posing as non-minors is of interest to me, by the way…) so that no community member can be guilty of, or knows that they will be guilty of it if they ignore the open warning, publishing obscene material to a minor.

    Logistically, it is not possible to do this, therefore, it is assumed that the personal associates of users are not known to be minors.

    To protect the innocence of children we would expect minors to be delineated in some way, but again, this is not possible. A twitter user does not necessarily know when a person is following them, or the age of that user. It returns to the responsibility of the caregiver of the minor to protect the minor, in this case.

    The human body is not obscene. Images of breasts should not necessarily be sufficient nor instinctively appeal “to the prurient interest.” “Prurient” is defined to mean “that which incites lasciviousness or lust.” The internet is an intellectual opportunity for challenging fringe material and thought, thought which would be expected to be created by the advancing .intelligence of advanced intelligence forms of life.

    Consider the following Congressional Findings:
    (3) The Internet and other interactive computer services offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse, unique opportunities for cultural development, and myriad avenues for intellectual activity.
    (4) The Internet and other interactive computer services have flourished, to the benefit of all Americans, with a minimum of government regulation.
    (5) Increasingly Americans are relying on interactive media for a variety of political, educational, cultural, and entertainment services.
    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/47/230.html

    Precedent for obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable leads us back to the Cases of:
    ROTH v. UNITED STATES, 354 U.S. 476 (1957)
    BROCKETT V. SPOKANE ARCADES, INC., 472 U. S. 491 (1985)
    Beauharnais v. Illinois, 343 U.S. 250 .
    Broadrick v. Oklahoma, 413 U. S. 601 (1973),
    Mutual Film Corp. v. Industrial Comm’n, 236 U. S. 230, 242
    Memoirs v. Massachusetts, 383 U. S. 413 (1966)
    Miller v. California, 413 U. S. 15 (1973)
    And of course, the 1873 Comstock Act.
    Let’s not go back to 1873…please. (1989- Virgil v. School Board of Columbia County does this in its own right, banning work including Aristophanes’ Lysistrata and Chaucer’s The Miller’s Tale.)

    Censor only in violations of terms of service, which must be clear, and cases of criminal activity, including activity defined as obscene, when taken in whole, to the sensibilities of reasonable persons

    Anyone who does not know the law, does not know how the law protects against censorship, and makes complaint so as to instigate turmoil regarding issues which do not violate law or invoke the duty of the Union, in upholding law, to suspend the area of constitutionally protected freedom of speech or press either (1) under the First Amendment, as to the Federal Government, or (2) under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, as to the States. Pp. 481-485, is creating a nuisance and should be reprimanded.

    We won’t be silenced or censored unless we are breaking the law or violating an explicit terms of service agreement.
    Just unfollow those users whose updates you find uninteresting, offensive to your tastes, or otherwise unsuitable for you. Leave the rest of us alone to decide for ourselves.

    First Amendment Center
    Libraries and banned books:
    http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/Speech/libraries/topic.aspx?topic=banned_books

    http://jesseloop.blogspot.com

  • http://flipbitsnotburgers.blogspot.com/ Andrew Badera

    I find it interesting that Susan Reynolds was the first respondent. Susan, you are one of the pickiest, nose-highest-in-the-air people on Twitter. You hardly grok a majority of the community’s mindset to begin with, outside of your incestuous Web 2.0 circle jerk. Small minded? Pot, kettle, black.

    Twitter’s system obviously needs some work — but at least it doesn’t seem to be entirely broken. Perhaps kind of like democracy itself …

    As as a long follower of @FoulBastard and a not-infrequently obnoxious tweeter myself, I have to wonder, what happens when one gets blocked sans true abuse, and doesn’t have the recourse of a big name like Chris Brogan to haul your bacon out of the fire? Why didn’t Twitter respond to FB’s GetSatisfaction posts? Twitter’s potential will never be fully realized as long as arbitrary, uninvestigated, alogrithmically-driven account suspensions exist.

  • http://flipbitsnotburgers.blogspot.com/ Andrew Badera

    I find it interesting that Susan Reynolds was the first respondent. Susan, you are one of the pickiest, nose-highest-in-the-air people on Twitter. You hardly grok a majority of the community’s mindset to begin with, outside of your incestuous Web 2.0 circle jerk. Small minded? Pot, kettle, black.

    Twitter’s system obviously needs some work — but at least it doesn’t seem to be entirely broken. Perhaps kind of like democracy itself …

    As as a long follower of @FoulBastard and a not-infrequently obnoxious tweeter myself, I have to wonder, what happens when one gets blocked sans true abuse, and doesn’t have the recourse of a big name like Chris Brogan to haul your bacon out of the fire? Why didn’t Twitter respond to FB’s GetSatisfaction posts? Twitter’s potential will never be fully realized as long as arbitrary, uninvestigated, alogrithmically-driven account suspensions exist.

  • http://twitter.com/twittilate Twittilate

    Thanks for writing this post Chris.

    I can’t keep my tweets off the public timeline without going completely private “protect my updates”. It might be good if Twitter provided an adult content, swearing, or not safe for work/kids flag that I could switch on to flag my own tweets.

    This could automatically keep tweets off the public timeline.
    Then Twitter could offer a user switch “only show safe content”.

    Lots of love,
    Twittilate xxx

  • http://twitter.com/twittilate Twittilate

    Thanks for writing this post Chris.

    I can’t keep my tweets off the public timeline without going completely private “protect my updates”. It might be good if Twitter provided an adult content, swearing, or not safe for work/kids flag that I could switch on to flag my own tweets.

    This could automatically keep tweets off the public timeline.
    Then Twitter could offer a user switch “only show safe content”.

    Lots of love,
    Twittilate xxx

  • http://www.disruptiveconversations.com/ Dan York

    Chris,

    Thanks for taking the time to write this piece and to incorporate the response from Biz Stone. It’s interesting to learn of people pushing the usage of Twitter in different ways. I don’t follow FB (and don’t see myself doing so) so it was good to be exposed to what was going on. It’s also interesting to learn about how the folks at Twitter look for signs of spam. They have a tough challenge since the spammers out there are always looking for new ways to manipulate systems to spread their messages.

    Thanks,
    Dan

  • http://www.disruptiveconversations.com/ Dan York

    Chris,

    Thanks for taking the time to write this piece and to incorporate the response from Biz Stone. It’s interesting to learn of people pushing the usage of Twitter in different ways. I don’t follow FB (and don’t see myself doing so) so it was good to be exposed to what was going on. It’s also interesting to learn about how the folks at Twitter look for signs of spam. They have a tough challenge since the spammers out there are always looking for new ways to manipulate systems to spread their messages.

    Thanks,
    Dan

  • http://shannonehlers.com Shannon Ehlers

    Here are a few random thoughts after reading your excellent post and the comments. It’s late, so forgive any rambliness (that’s not a word).

    *I might question the judgment of someone who repeatedly gets their account suspended, especially when they claim to understand this process reasonably well. This might be a sign that your brand of art needs a different gallery.

    *I don’t find anything more ridiculous than someone bringing up freedom of speech, democracy, and other “limited government” metaphors. Twitter and other platforms provide you with a type of amplifier, they are companies, not democratic countries. No EULA I’ve ever read resembled a bill of rights, but rather a list of restrictions. You willingly joined a benevolent dictatorship, get used to it.

    *Maybe the key here is to realize that Twitter and like organizations are trying to build large communities of users and to do that, they need to appeal to most people. If this means that a few people get mad, especially as a result of being banned/kicked/etc by many other users, then so be it.

    *This reminds me of Howard Stern’s notorious battles with corporate radio. What he called his art was often little more than a way to disrupt people’s thought process with shocking behavior. While radio was interested in the large and loyal audience he drew, they had a larger mission to perform in the public interest (as mandated by the FCC). This art form was ultimately found not to be in the public interest and Howard found a new gallery for his art (satellite radio).

    *No Supreme Court opinions, no code sections, just a simple question. Isn’t there a certain level to which we need not sink? I don’t mean that my own standards of decency are what everyone should follow. What I mean is that some common courtesies ought to be used when communicating in public forums, even if you consider that communication to be an artistic object. For the same reasons we don’t yell ‘Fire!’ in a movie theater, we need not create shocking innuendo in the name of art on forums such as this. If that cramps your artistic expression, then perhaps a different forum, more specific to the particulars of your art form, is in order.

  • http://shannonehlers.com Shannon Ehlers

    Here are a few random thoughts after reading your excellent post and the comments. It’s late, so forgive any rambliness (that’s not a word).

    *I might question the judgment of someone who repeatedly gets their account suspended, especially when they claim to understand this process reasonably well. This might be a sign that your brand of art needs a different gallery.

    *I don’t find anything more ridiculous than someone bringing up freedom of speech, democracy, and other “limited government” metaphors. Twitter and other platforms provide you with a type of amplifier, they are companies, not democratic countries. No EULA I’ve ever read resembled a bill of rights, but rather a list of restrictions. You willingly joined a benevolent dictatorship, get used to it.

    *Maybe the key here is to realize that Twitter and like organizations are trying to build large communities of users and to do that, they need to appeal to most people. If this means that a few people get mad, especially as a result of being banned/kicked/etc by many other users, then so be it.

    *This reminds me of Howard Stern’s notorious battles with corporate radio. What he called his art was often little more than a way to disrupt people’s thought process with shocking behavior. While radio was interested in the large and loyal audience he drew, they had a larger mission to perform in the public interest (as mandated by the FCC). This art form was ultimately found not to be in the public interest and Howard found a new gallery for his art (satellite radio).

    *No Supreme Court opinions, no code sections, just a simple question. Isn’t there a certain level to which we need not sink? I don’t mean that my own standards of decency are what everyone should follow. What I mean is that some common courtesies ought to be used when communicating in public forums, even if you consider that communication to be an artistic object. For the same reasons we don’t yell ‘Fire!’ in a movie theater, we need not create shocking innuendo in the name of art on forums such as this. If that cramps your artistic expression, then perhaps a different forum, more specific to the particulars of your art form, is in order.

  • http://climbtothestars.org Stephanie Booth

    I’m a “blocker”, on Twitter. This means that I actively block people who try to follow me and who seem to be “collecting followees” (high followee/follower ratio) or “twitter-spamming” (mainly pushing links or blatantly promotional stuff).

    On my profile, there is a link to the list of people following me. My avatar appears on the profiles of those who are following me. So “being followed” by this or that person/account can have an impact on my “image” on Twitter, so to say. Not a huge one, but still.

    So, at the risk of having less followers than I could, I block (but I don’t block normal people who want to follow me, no fear).

  • http://climbtothestars.org Stephanie Booth

    I’m a “blocker”, on Twitter. This means that I actively block people who try to follow me and who seem to be “collecting followees” (high followee/follower ratio) or “twitter-spamming” (mainly pushing links or blatantly promotional stuff).

    On my profile, there is a link to the list of people following me. My avatar appears on the profiles of those who are following me. So “being followed” by this or that person/account can have an impact on my “image” on Twitter, so to say. Not a huge one, but still.

    So, at the risk of having less followers than I could, I block (but I don’t block normal people who want to follow me, no fear).

  • http://twitter.com/jesatiu jesse

    I noticed one point didn’t come out as clear as it should have in my previous comment:
    If the image of the breasts of a woman (or the penis of a man) affects YOU personally in such a way as to incite lasciviousness or lust, then you really need to join a support group – as I said, the human body cannot ever become (as it may seems some folks would want) in and of itself, “obscene.” If we structure our thoughts to include the human form as obscene, we are paving a road to destruction…more on the end of the world in a second, but first:

    *quote:
    I don’t find anything more ridiculous than someone bringing up freedom of speech, democracy, and other “limited government” metaphors. Twitter and other platforms provide you with a type of amplifier, they are companies, not democratic countries. No EULA I’ve ever read resembled a bill of rights, but rather a list of restrictions. You willingly joined a benevolent dictatorship, get used to it. – Comment by Shannon Ehlers on March 15, 2008 @ 12:39 am
    */quote

    I think you mean TOS and not EULA-but that aside, Constitutional law, even if you personally don’t agree with it, is what (should/must) govern(s) our society; therefore, even a TOS in violation of Constitutional law is illegal.

    But despite this fact, my point is that “crying wolf” over a matter that does not break any law is contrary to the will of the people, as defined by the Constitution (which is designed, by the framers, to mold to the will of the people, and not vice-versa, by the way).
    Using the “block” feature is the appropriate action-that’s what it is there for, as is not choosing to follow, as is protecting updates…

    Asking to have someone removed from society (or a community) because you find their LEGAL content/expression to be unsatisfactory, crude, moronic, or any otherwise offensive to you personally, is to disable the societal system (government inc.) which allows our society to exists, democratically; and with ever-increasing advancement. (And also to disable any portion of that society, such as an online community.)

    Keep in mind, “Painters and poets come to America, skateboarders and sculptors choose to make this their home. For them, self expression is the motivator.”

    Now, who said that? I believe, if I read your blog right, Shannon, that you put this in the context of a good thing, yes? So, tell me, why would we choose to stymie that self-expression and motivation? Science, technology, medicine, law, and, ultimately, peaceable existence (or any existence at all) mandates that we do not.

    That is why constitutionality and other government “stuff” applies in this situation…

    I typically would not have gone to view the “breasts of twitter” had it not been for the controversy (child-rearing 101 applies even to adults: don’t give undue attention to outbursts and other non-favorable action/activity. Reward with attention only that which is positive).

    I can see all the breasts right up close I care to see (damn it’s good to be me). However, I don’t want anyone telling me I can’t choose to view someone’s content/expression if I decide I want to, unless that content/expression breaks the law, thank you very much for not interfering with my constitutional rights.

    Similarly, this goes double for religious zealots that spew “end of the world” fear propaganda in order to convince simple minds to follow and obey their wishes, typically for monetary gain! Don’t get me started on the Haggard’s, Robertson’s and Falwell’s (rip ty lord, glad I’m not his “soul”) out there…damn hate mongers trying to ruin the word of the Almighty power, the will of the common person, and the advancement of life…anyway…

    I’m so tired of hearing Christians (not all, only those that do) state that the world is going to end on X day I can’t even hardly stand it. Folks, the world is not going to end. Get used to it. Just maybe we need to collectively convince ourselves the world isn’t actually about to end (which it isn’t1) and work together, using doctrines like the Constitution/Constitutional law, to make it a place worth living in, for all, united, together, as humans being kind, gentle, courteous, artistic, expressive and, most of all, peaceable.

    1: http://qntm.org/?destroy – Things of Interest, a production of Sam Hughes.
    http://jesseloop.blogspot.com

  • http://twitter.com/jesatiu jesse

    I noticed one point didn’t come out as clear as it should have in my previous comment:
    If the image of the breasts of a woman (or the penis of a man) affects YOU personally in such a way as to incite lasciviousness or lust, then you really need to join a support group – as I said, the human body cannot ever become (as it may seems some folks would want) in and of itself, “obscene.” If we structure our thoughts to include the human form as obscene, we are paving a road to destruction…more on the end of the world in a second, but first:

    *quote:
    I don’t find anything more ridiculous than someone bringing up freedom of speech, democracy, and other “limited government” metaphors. Twitter and other platforms provide you with a type of amplifier, they are companies, not democratic countries. No EULA I’ve ever read resembled a bill of rights, but rather a list of restrictions. You willingly joined a benevolent dictatorship, get used to it. – Comment by Shannon Ehlers on March 15, 2008 @ 12:39 am
    */quote

    I think you mean TOS and not EULA-but that aside, Constitutional law, even if you personally don’t agree with it, is what (should/must) govern(s) our society; therefore, even a TOS in violation of Constitutional law is illegal.

    But despite this fact, my point is that “crying wolf” over a matter that does not break any law is contrary to the will of the people, as defined by the Constitution (which is designed, by the framers, to mold to the will of the people, and not vice-versa, by the way).
    Using the “block” feature is the appropriate action-that’s what it is there for, as is not choosing to follow, as is protecting updates…

    Asking to have someone removed from society (or a community) because you find their LEGAL content/expression to be unsatisfactory, crude, moronic, or any otherwise offensive to you personally, is to disable the societal system (government inc.) which allows our society to exists, democratically; and with ever-increasing advancement. (And also to disable any portion of that society, such as an online community.)

    Keep in mind, “Painters and poets come to America, skateboarders and sculptors choose to make this their home. For them, self expression is the motivator.”

    Now, who said that? I believe, if I read your blog right, Shannon, that you put this in the context of a good thing, yes? So, tell me, why would we choose to stymie that self-expression and motivation? Science, technology, medicine, law, and, ultimately, peaceable existence (or any existence at all) mandates that we do not.

    That is why constitutionality and other government “stuff” applies in this situation…

    I typically would not have gone to view the “breasts of twitter” had it not been for the controversy (child-rearing 101 applies even to adults: don’t give undue attention to outbursts and other non-favorable action/activity. Reward with attention only that which is positive).

    I can see all the breasts right up close I care to see (damn it’s good to be me). However, I don’t want anyone telling me I can’t choose to view someone’s content/expression if I decide I want to, unless that content/expression breaks the law, thank you very much for not interfering with my constitutional rights.

    Similarly, this goes double for religious zealots that spew “end of the world” fear propaganda in order to convince simple minds to follow and obey their wishes, typically for monetary gain! Don’t get me started on the Haggard’s, Robertson’s and Falwell’s (rip ty lord, glad I’m not his “soul”) out there…damn hate mongers trying to ruin the word of the Almighty power, the will of the common person, and the advancement of life…anyway…

    I’m so tired of hearing Christians (not all, only those that do) state that the world is going to end on X day I can’t even hardly stand it. Folks, the world is not going to end. Get used to it. Just maybe we need to collectively convince ourselves the world isn’t actually about to end (which it isn’t1) and work together, using doctrines like the Constitution/Constitutional law, to make it a place worth living in, for all, united, together, as humans being kind, gentle, courteous, artistic, expressive and, most of all, peaceable.

    1: http://qntm.org/?destroy – Things of Interest, a production of Sam Hughes.
    http://jesseloop.blogspot.com

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  • http://www.savetubevideo.com youtube downloader

    Monday night I logged into @TheBreasts on Twitter, clicked update, and my tweet disappeared into the ether. Having already been suspended once before I was familiar with this behavior. Twitter has an atrocious disciplinary system.