Twitter de Milo

Editor of Breitbart Tech, and rather flamboyant and outrageous social media conservative, Milo Yiannopoulos, was stripped of his blue verification check on the Twitters.  His twitter handle, @Nero, is now just like anyone else’s. Anyone who has over 140,000 followers, that is.

So what?  If you never knew of or cared about Milo’s existence before, his deverification is unlikely to keep you awake at night. If you wish to learn more about him, you can do it on your own. I can’t help you.

But this has given rise to an epic twitter shitstorm, implicating the new cry of censorship. To be clear, this is not a First Amendment issue, as Twitter is not the government and can act as capriciously as it wants, the law of contract notwithstanding. But Milo had no contractual claim to a blue check in his Twitter bio.

According to the Twitters, the purpose of blue check is an indication, in the Twitterverse, that the user is a “somebody” to Twitter.

Verification is currently used to establish authenticity of identities of key individuals and brands on Twitter.

The Google explanation is a bit more meaningful:

Twitter’s account verification, which marks a user’s profile with the official blue verified tick badge, is given to highly sought celebrities and public figures or those at risk of impersonation, to establish authenticity of identities.

The blue check distinguishes the Twitter bio of the authentic person from those who might impersonate someone worthy of impersonation. In other words, there is an actual reason to be verified if you are someone of sufficient celebrity. And for that reason, the blue check has become something of a status symbol on the Twitters.

At the same time, the blue check is handed out like candy to people who work for businesses, what the Twitters call “brands,” without regard to whether the individual’s identities matter or not.  As an example, when Cristian Farias wrote for Fault Lines, his Twitter bio bore no check. As soon as he was stolen away by Huff Post, a blue check magically appeared. Cristian was the same brilliant writer, but his status was altered by his employment.

As this isn’t a First Amendment issue, why then has Milo’s being de-verified given rise to this shitstorm?  The de-verification has been used as a method of punishment for unspoken transgressions.


On the right wing side, this is viewed as Twitter having used its arbitrary bit of control to undermine its conservative perspective. Mind you, Milo remains on Twitter, has gained 20,000 followers as a result of Twitter’s action, and is, if anything, more well-known now than before. On the left wing side, this is a vindication of liberal and feminist claims.

For a man who has enjoyed the privilege of a large platform to be sent a clear message that his behaviour is unacceptable, I’m sure it feels pretty disorientating.

But if, as Milo believes, he has been unverified for his comments online, this is a victory for anyone who has watched social media descend into a cesspit of vulgar misogyny and savage provocation. It’s a hugely positive step towards dealing with online trolls by making a conscious decision to refuse to legitimise them.

So says Jessie Thompson, an editorial assistant at Huff Post, who, ironically, has a blue check on her Twitter bio and, as of this writing, has 4405 followers and is on one list.

Let’s get one thing straight. This is not a freedom of speech issue. Milo still has a Twitter account, which he is still able to use to tweet to his 134,000 followers – which he has been doing, continuously, mostly just with photos of his own face.

So, since his claims that he’s being censored are disingenuous, one can only assume that Milo’s tantrum is because losing his blue badge feels like the loss of a status symbol. If he no longer has the blue tick, he is no longer seen as a key individual on Twitter. If he no longer has the blue tick, how do we know Milo Yiannopoulos really EXISTS? (Unfortunately, he does.)

Thompson conflates First Amendment with censorship, but in her zeal to pre-emptively attack, adds to the explanation of why Milo’s de-verification matters. If it was inconsequential, it would be unworthy of any need to use it to claim “victory.”

Is Milo an “online troll”? To those who despise him, sure. Of course, the word troll has devolved in definition to anyone you hate, so merely calling someone a troll makes it so. But Thompson is right about one thing, that Twitter is using this trivial smack to influence thought and behavior on its medium.  That it has the authority to do so isn’t in dispute.

But the efficacy of free speech depends on the speaker being able to express his opinion where someone would hear it. As shopping malls displaced the village square as the place where people congregated, the law took notice. The mall was private property, and yet it was where the public could be found, creating an irreconcilable conflict.

In the virtual world, the Twitters is the new village green. As a private entity, Twitter can mow the lawn any damn way it pleases, but its arbitrary use of rules to favor one political perspective and punish another demonstrates the impact private technology can have on the dissemination of ideas that some find reprehensible.

Will Twitter’s trivial smackdown of Milo matter to Milo? Clearly not, as the Streisand Effect has elevated his profile. That SJWs have seized upon it as proof of their righteous victimhood at the hands of people like Milo has emboldened their choir as well as their detractors.

Will the exposure of Twitter’s attempt at mind control be the death of Twitter? Of course not. If the Twitters dies, it will be suicide, not murder, as it exists as an unsustainable business model, incapable of generating sufficient revenues despite its popularity to survive. But it does serve to remind users that platforms don’t love them, can’t remain above the fray, enough to remain loyal.

A new platform will come along one day, just as Twitter did, and its shininess will induce people to come to it. No one wants to speak their mind in an empty room, including the SJWs who need antagonists like @Nero to rally their own troops to hate, ridicule and attack. Left to their own devices on Twitter, they will either grow bored with hearing their own whining or cannibalize themselves for lack of anyone else to hate.  No tears will be shed when people rush to leave Twitter for the next new thing.

Blue check or not, Milo has been firmly established in the pantheon of Twitter users who matter, courtesy of Twitter’s effort to diminish his worth. There was no victory to be had by feminists in his punishment, and the absence of a blue check on his Twitter bio will be a badge of honor. Even though the village green is now online and in private hands, the mechanics of censorship still depend more on the willingness of people to listen than the pressure to silence.

The passive-aggressive attack by people with blue checks but of little consequence, like Jessica Thompson, can’t close the marketplace of ideas. The price of Milo went up, and the price of feminism went down, as has Twitter’s stock price. That’s how free speech happens.

22 thoughts on “Twitter de Milo

  1. John Barleycorn

    I say! That’s how that free speech thing is supposed to work. Thanks esteemed one.

    Darn, I sure wish I would have learned that one a little sooner and I hate to be the one to break the news, but it shouldn’t be too long now before all this free speech nonsense will be tidied up nicely and not by the twits on Twitter either.

    Today I learned that a dog can scent fear and adrenaline in a hit on a particular scent. The supersniffer evidence is in and now that the puppies can even detect adrenaline and fear you can guess what’s next. And seeing as how the Supremes already had their say about puppies powers, not that long ago, I think they will keep their big noses out of it for a good long while.

    But I submit that before the whole thing goes to the dogs, “science” (because math and SJW’s with law degrees = utopia) will save us and separate the bad guys nasty speech from your average ordinary everyday nasty speech.

    And everyone thinks a dog can take a bite out of crime? You just wait until a cop with a speech algorithm is issued a warrant that sniffs out the real criminal elements among us.

    The nine will call dogshit on that you say?
    I don’t know…they like them some “science” even more than puppies with powers.

    ‘Bout time too all this speech talk is making me speechless. And that’s saying something.

    It might sound kind of sketchy but mark my word, new fangled and fancy pants or not, the new speech warrants are gonna go down like jello shots at the homecoming festivities.
    So if you think all that posturing about bad speech has been keeping most of the bad guys in check because other speech along with that whole free thing… You just wait until DA’s all over the country unlock all those speach files they have locked up in their bottom desk drawers. They have already been dusting off a few of them here and there to use as back up after an arrest to highlight the bad in the really bad guys.

    That will teach them bad guys not to get all verbose on social media once and for all.

    And if the algorithms don’t sniff ‘um out. They will figure out a way to train them bloodhounds to sniff out all the bad guys, who need a closer look, who have been leaving their speech trail all over library keyboards and discarded coffee cups at the Starbucks from coast to coast.

    Don’t be late for the party.

  2. Bryan Link

    There is a rather large difference between having unpalatable opinions and using your platform to harass people. Almost every single article I read fails to list any of Milo’s transgessions in that regard, and somehow the removal of a blue checkmark is read as an attempt to censor unpopular opinions (this one included).
    Milo has posted with a dot reply a photoshopped image of a Twitter user’s dead sister.
    Milo has posted private information about several Twitter users.
    Milo has sent swarms of his followers after targets of his ire.
    Milo was suspended *recently* for his actions.
    These instances are easily searchable online, so instead of writing a rather biased article where these facts are omitted because doing so fits a particular agenda, why not include them to allow your readers to decide whether or not Milo’s censuring is a valid step to take in ensuring that Twitter users avoid being harassed?

    1. SHG Post author

      Ah, harassment, a fundamentally meaningless word, particularly in the context of twitter, premised on the delicacy of other people’s feelings. My problem is that whether these “facts” are harassment or Milo’s chosen exercise of speech is a matter of what side one is on in the gender wars, so it’s not my responsibility to promote your side’s view of the “facts.” Others can decide for themselves.

      Edit: It looks like Marc Randazza addresses your “facts.” Trigger Warning: it’s not going to make you happy.

      1. Penny Dreadful

        “Thompson conflates First Amendment with censorship…”

        Thompson is writing for Huffpo U.K. The U.K. does not have the First Amendment. They also (unfortunately) seem to have tighter restrictions on speech. (Ditto other European countries.) I am not sure how Thompson would discuss something that is not law in her country.

        Mr. Link gives actual examples of harassment. I thought lawyers did research as part of their jobs. Yeesh.

        Here is a response to Randazza’s piece, also on Popehat:

        PS: What is the price of feminism now? I ask because after reading Alan Rickman’s quote about it, I’m interested in a layaway plan.

        1. SHG Post author

          Sigh. If Thompson chooses to write about American free speech, then she needs to know what she’s talking about. Ignorance is not an excuse. Not for her. Not for you. So no, Mr. Link doesn’t give examples. Mr. Link gives vapid conclusions of the sort that play well with the choir, for whom facile conclusions are much easier to digest than information. That distinction is often lost on certain overly passionate people these days, who then compound their deficits with silliness like “I thought lawyers did research…” That would be you.

          And I’ve left your link in, even though it violates the rules here (yes, I know that reading, like thought, is very hard and can make your head hurt). I’m not pal of Milos, but I’m also no foe. I realize that you can’t believe anybody can’t be as myopic in their hatred as you, because your RIGHT!!! You’ll grow up eventually. Maybe. You’re welcome.

      2. Jim McCormack

        Harassment is a meaningless word, premised on the delicacy of feelings; spoken like someone who has never been harassed.

        If you lost a family member tragically, and hundreds of strangers started sending you celebratory messages about it, you might feel differently.

        I’m happy for you that you’ve avoided serious harassment in your life. I just wish you had the decency to consider these issues without having personally suffered, and the intellectual flexibility and honesty to appreciate that you probably would consider it harassment if you had ever experienced the type of nonsense that others have experienced.

        1. SHG Post author

          What makes this difficult is the recurring theme of people who hate Milo, including you. There are facts (A punched B), there is baseless speculation (A caused his secret minions to harm B) and there is meaninglessness (A harassed B), because the word harassment tells us nothing about what, in fact happened.

          You obviously can’t grasp this, as is the case with the other Milo haters. Your blind hatred and stupidity makes it impossible for you to read what’s written and grasp basic concepts, which precludes anything resembling intelligent discussion. Instead, you try to be cute with your infantile dive into the emotional cesspool.

          Don’t be happy for me. Be sad for yourself. No one should have to go through life as a blithering idiot. I feel your pain.

          1. Jim McCormack

            “Blind hatred and stupidity”; you based this perspective on… my thinking you’d feel differently if people were sending you pictures of a family member you lost tragically?

            I don’t hate Milo; I believe he’s not much different from Stephen Colbert, to be honest with you. He’s a skilled writer and I am envious of his eloquence. I think he writes awful nonsense, but I think it’s all an act, the same way that Colbert played a conservative on a comedy show.

            I don’t know what his real views are, so I have nothing to hate. I think you have a hard time actually seeing things from the perspectives of others, possibly because you invent fictitious stand-ins for people who disagree with you, and rail against those characters. I imagine that might work well in a trial, where you’re trying to convince a third party, but it’s a pretty miserable technique for dialogue and conversation with another person.

            1. SHG Post author

              You imagine a lot of things, all wrong and all based on the self-indulgence of your feelings. You don’t hate Milo? If you say so, but your comment tells a different story. We’ve heard it a million times, “you would feel differently if it was your family member who was killed/raped/harmed.” You think you came up with a new idea? Yet, society functions on reason, not your emotions and vapid rationalizations.

              Your facile assumption comes from your need to rationalize within the limits of your abilities. If it’s all about feelings, then there’s no need to do the hard labor of thinking. And you don’t. How miserable of me not to want to wallow in your feelings. Want a hug, teacup? For fuck sake, you don’t want dialogue. You want a tummy rub, like an infant.

              I don’t give a shit whether you agree or disagree. I do, however, despise the idiocy that comes from people like you who use emotion to compensate for the hard labor of thinking. You feel something? Aren’t you special. Go play where someone gives a damn about your sad tears. Here, ideas prevail, and you’ve offered none.

            2. Andrew

              Isn’t this just a variation on the theme of “how can you defend those animals,” that you’ve discussed a million times? Why beat this guy up so bad? It’s not like his feelz argument is anything new.

            3. SHG Post author

              Kinda, but resort to the logical fallacy (and accompanying nonsensical rationalizations) appeal to emotion has not only become ubiquitous, but has almost entirely replaced basic thought. It just makes everyone stupider, and that can’t be ignored.

            4. Jim McCormack

              Ha ha ha! Wow, the level of projection in your response to me is amazing. Enjoy your misery. I strongly suggest trying therapy to deal with the unresolved emotional issues you’ve flown up the flagpole here.

            5. Jim McCormack

              No–that’s not what I’ve said at all.
              SHG says that harassment is imaginary and doesn’t exist. I presume he’s based this unsupported idea on a life free of harassment.

              For the record, I’ve also lived a life free of harassment, but I’ve certainly seen it happen.

              My post isn’t an attack on Milo or anyone else. I’m not saying I’m ‘offended’, and I’m not calling anyone a beast or an animal.

              I’m simply making a provocative point; Mr. Greenfield has never been harassed, and has a limited experience of the world. I’d like him to consider his feelings if these things happened to him; is there a threshold at which they would cross the line? Is that threshold sheer volume, or is it quality?

              I now realize that the word ‘feelings’ is the dog whistle which makes him start shrieking unintelligibly and flinging mud in an attempt to silence the person who blows it, but hey, I didn’t know that he would have a melt-down when I made my first comment. I was unfamiliar with Mr. Greenfield and his predilection for throwing tantys.

              I’m not sure why I’m bothering to type this out. Mr. Greenfield is unlikely to post it; while the man has the self-awareness of a goldfish, by this point, even he can see he’s made a rather poor showing of himself, and he’s unintentionally revealed some serious problems.

              I hope him the best, & I hope his audience matures & moves on to adult voices that are a little more logical and a little more rational.


            6. SHG Post author

              Your reading comprehension is no better than capacity to think. That leaves you as the obvious moron in the room. I could explain what I wrote, but it’s there to be read if you weren’t so caught up in your emotional blindness.

              And Jim, you’re the guest in my house. Do you think there is anything more assholish you could have done than explain your interpretation of me to others who have the capacity to read and understand that you so sadly lack? No one makes you the joke. Only you can do that to yourself.

        2. Myles

          Perhaps if you cried less, you could think more. Then you wouldn’t be such a whiny self-righteous dumbass.

  3. Pingback: Because Thinking Is Too Damn Hard | Simple Justice

  4. Jim McCormack

    Oh my Greenfield. I’ve just read the sidebar on this blog. Take some advice from another lawyer; stop begging for cash, stop writing passive aggressive nonsense, and go work. The bit at the top about how you should get paid for legal advice; the note that this ‘blahg’ doesn’t pay for itself. Please. You are a lawyer, you have a degree, you have passed the bar. Go represent some clients.

    Trust me, it’s far more dignified than starting slap fights on twitter & then begging for money from people who are equally miserable. I suspect work hasn’t been going well for a while–it would explain the angry tone–but honestly, you need to really think about your law career & if this is really the way you should represent yourself online.


    1. SHG Post author

      Sorry, Jim, but grasping at straws isn’t going to hurt my feelings. I’ve allowed you to humiliate yourself enough. Now you’re just wasting my bandwidth and grown tedious. Bye.

    2. Sgt. Schultz

      If you’re gonna try to troll, you need to up your game significantly. You really suck at it, which bodes poorly for someone as moronic as you.

      1. Andrew

        SHG wrote: “Ah, harassment, a fundamentally meaningless word, particularly in the context of twitter, premised on the delicacy of other people’s feelings.”

        Jim wrote: “SHG says that harassment is imaginary and doesn’t exist. ”

        And you think he has game to be upped? Hell, he couldn’t even find the butthurt button.

        1. SHG Post author

          Imagine what it’s like to deal with this never-ending supply of daytripping morons? It’s not just that the stupid hurts, but that it’s always the same slide into the toilet of butthurt at the end, because they’re all “special.”

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