This Sunday, I asked /r/KotakuInAction what we should do about the Chuck C. Johnson affair. I was expecting a lukewarm response, and the end result was exactly that. A few people discussed how great Johnson was at trolling SJWs and how they loved him for it, a few others said his methods were too extreme, and Nicky Nyberg even graced us with his presence to complain about Johnson’s work in tracking down the mysterious “Jackie” from the UVA hoax. The overwhelming majority, of course, said something along the lines of “it’s not our problem.” Fair enough, I suppose. Except now, it actually has become our problem.
For those of you don’t know, Chuck C. Johnson is a journalist who runs his own site, GotNews.com. Johnson’s work has been, well, provocative to say the least. Most of it is investigative work, blowing the lid off of stories that most of the mainstream media doesn’t want to touch. I had first heard of Johnson when he filed suit in Ferguson to obtain Michael Brown’s arrest records. I had a great laugh when he exposed the two reporters responsible for leaking Darren Wilson’s home address. He made national news during the aforementioned UVA controversy- he was one of the first reporters to reveal that the Rolling Stone story was a hoax, and put a great deal of effort into finding out who this “Jackie” that Rolling Stone cited was. He made a lot of enemies, and Gawker started a vile, scatological smear campaign against him. Having made enemies with Gawker, he reached out to #GamerGate. Of course, since he had nothing of value to offer, #GamerGate obviously refused to be his personal army.
Most recently, Johnson made a tweet asking fans of GotNews to donate to him, promising he’d go after Ferguson/Baltimore agitator Deray McKesson. In particular, Johnson said he was going to “take out” Deray. Hoping to protect one of their own, twitter SJWs immediately rallied to mass-report the post as a “death threat,” with Deray’s encouragement. Caving to mass pressure, Twitter suspended Johnson. That was when I came to KiA, asking what we should do.
Since then, the situation has only gotten worse. Upon discovering his suspension would be permanent, Johnson made an alternate account. That’s standard procedure. I’ve done it plenty of times- I’m on my second account for my blogging and on a second account for personal use (the third actually got perma’d, but I discovered the second was only temporarily suspended). However, twitter banned this alt fairly quickly, much to my surprise. Still, I suppose it was reasonable, given how he admitted it was an alt to ban-evade, and the angry mob was still angry. It wasn’t too feasible to believe that he was targeted for mass-reporting again.
Then things finally got weird. The twitter account for GotNews suddenly vanished. Obviously, Chuck C. Johnson runs the account. But seeing someone’s legitimately professional twitter account gone like that? I can’t ever recall a precedent for it. I’m not alone, either- folks like Milo Yiannopoulos and the Popehat team even noted that this was a bit bizarre and over the line, along with twitter’s steadfast refusal to reinstate Johnson despite the offending tweet being obviously misunderstood.
But that was only the tip of the iceberg: in an interview with Milo yesterday, Johnson claimed that he had been ip-banned from twitter. For those not in the know, an ip ban is the most severe sanction twitter has to offer- normally reserved for dealing with automated spam systems, twitter’s own FAQ makes it a point to say that they don’t ip ban people. On top of that, prolific hacktivist weev, who was supposedly working with Johnson on understanding the AdultFriendFinder leaks, received a mysterious e-mail from twitter support claiming that he was encouraging his followers to harass people. I’ve never seen this sort of e-mail before, and you’d think with roughly 9 months of #GamerGate I would have. All I can think of is that weev was one of the first people to start the #FreeChuck and #GingerRevolution tags, along with twitter user @Jokeocracy, AKA Duck Enlightenment.
More and more, we’re seeing signs that twitter is engaging in blatant censorship*. It doesn’t matter who Johnson is, or what he’s done in the past, this just is flat-out not okay. If we let twitter get away with this, then there’s a good chance that they’ll come for us next. We all know twitter is compromised, or “pozzed” as I like to say. But so far, they’ve done very little to stop us. Rogue is still here, I’m still here, almost everyone from day one who wants to stay is still here. We need to make it clear that twitter can’t expect to do this to anyone without there being blowback of the highest level.
So what is there to be done? Well, most of the organizing is going on in the two twitter hashtags I mentioned earlier: #FreeChuck and #GingerRevolution. #JeSuisChuckJohnson was also tried, but it’s too long. If we could really boost those hashtags, that would be a great start. Hell, getting them trending with #GamerGate support would be a great show of force. Second, you could change your avatar to this picture right here. If we flood twitter in a sea of orange, they’d feel even more pressure. Remember- the more vocal and persistent we are, the more pressure we put on twitter leadership. I’d also encourage you to read GotNews and help share GotNews links, if not just to spite the people who want it to go away.
This isn’t about spiting SJWs, though. This is about standing up against censorship and silencing. If we’ve been receptive to Ian Miles Cheong despite his past, we can do the same with Chuck C. Johnson. We need to keep twitter open and keep the web free for everyone, even the people we don’t like. This is a chance to show the world what we stand for.
*For those of you who are going to say “BUT ONLY THE GOVERNMENT CAN CENSOR PEOPLE, NOT A PRIVATE PLATFORM!” allow me to present you with a three point rebuttal:
- Given that the primary target of weev and Johnson’s collaborative work on the AFF leaks is to find government employees using the service, there is more than enough reason to believe that the government is in on this. We all know that they aren’t too fond of leakers making them look bad.
- Privately-owned services are essentially sovereign entities. While they are legally allowed to silence individual voices in their sphere of influence, it is for all intents and purposes censorship on a much smaller scale. Since the english language doesn’t have a word for this, “censorship” fits my purpose.
- Blow me.