No matter what your politics are, I'm sure you'll agree that you don't want your cellphone suddenly blocking your ability to call a friend because it's decided that your friend's politics are "undesirable."
Now, I know that anecdotal evidence is an iffy thing, but for the past several days I've been getting multiple stories from multiple sources that something is rotten in the state of Twitter, and that this is exactly what is happening.
Multiple conservative Twitter accounts are complaining that they are spontaneously "unfollowing" other conservative Twitter accounts. I've had it happen to me, where my account has "unfollowed" people without my consent or knowledge. Simple bug? Maybe.
An anonymous source, who claims to be with Twitter, contacted me today claiming that there's a "hacktivist" on Twitter's payroll who's having a little fun at the expense of his ideological opponents. I can't confirm this as just a simple rumor or hoax, since the upper management of Twitter is beyond impossible to contact.
Given that Twitter has had "issues" with censoring conservative accounts in the past, I find this new round of anecdotal stories troubling.
Either Twitter is an uncensored medium that allows all political viewpoints, or it isn't. It claims to be unbiased in this regard, and likens itself to a telephone company -- and prefers to intervene only when threats are made between individual users (just as a telephone company would). It trumpets its efforts in the middle-east to spread news of the Arab Spring, but seems to display an odd behavior when it comes to politics on its own shores.
Now look, if this is true, then this isn't exactly a case of censorship. First, there's no government involved. Secondly, if Twitter doesn't like conservatives on its site, then hey, it's their private property, more power to them. But management should come out and declare its sentiments outright, rather than do it sneakily, behind the scenes.
Bear in mind, there can be other explanations for this new Twitter oddness. The more complex a system, the more apt it is to have weird bugs. The explanation could be entirely innocent. So I'd like to gather evidence on this new behavior, and I'd like enough "noise" to be made for Twitter's management to give us a definitive statement on its neutrality.
It could very well be that this "hacktivist" is doing this without the knowledge or consent of Twitter's management. Sometimes programmers go off the reservation, after all.
So if you can, please leave a comment below through your Twitter account. Let me know if you have noticed this odd "unfollowing" behavior. And please tweet out this article so that the folks who are "still" following you can see it.
Update 9/22/11: Smitty from TheOtherMcCain has a caution which is duly noted here not to go too overboard on a sense of entitlement to Twitter's service. I agree. I simply want to know if it's a bug or something being done on purpose.
Update 9/22/11: A fellow claiming to be from Twitter is trying to figure it out in a helpful and respectful way.
contact ladd @ filmladd dot com