At 12:10 PM, July 3, after my 12-hour lock-out had ended, I received this email from Twitter support:
Hello,We have restored your account, and we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.Twitter takes reports of violations of the Twitter Rules very seriously. After reviewing your account, it looks like we made an error. Thanks,
For the first time, after more than 35,000 tweets, Twitter has locked my account. Why? Because I told the truth about radical Islam, and I told the truth about the slaughter of Christians in Nigeria. How did this violate Twitter's guidelines?
On Sunday, my article appealing to Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari was posted on different sites. It was titled, "President Buhari, Please Stop the Muslim Slaughter of Nigerian Christians." A subtitle used on one site added, "Muslim herdsmen are massacring their Christian neighbors, and the Nigerian government refuses to act."
My initial tweet announced the article and urged Christians to share it, stating: "I don't often do this, but this is an urgent matter. Christians are being slaughtered in Nigeria—babies hacked up; children brutalized; women raped; people burned alive—while the Muslim govt. does nothing (or worse). PLEASE read and share."
As of this writing, it was retweeted 1,248 times and liked 737 times, and the article itself has been shared thousands of times.
The whole purpose of the article was to alert the international community to the atrocities being experienced by these Nigerian Christians, with the hope that with more awareness, pressure would come on President Buhari, himself a Muslim, to stand and act. (Many accuse him of being complicit in the slaughter.)
On my AskDrBrown Facebook page, Nigerian Christians shared some of their own horror stories. It was heartbreaking to read.
One man posted, "Thanks for speaking out on behalf of the Christians in Nigeria. The mainstream media seems to be quiet and no one seem to talk about it. Truthfully, the future of Nigeria's Christians looks potentially nightmarish with the level of calculated killings across the country."
Another wrote, "Sadly so. Am a Nigerian christian and I don't feel safe to travel to the north eastern of Nigerian because of presence of Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen, kidnapping and killing innocent Christians and the name of Islam. And our government is handling the issue with kid gloves."
But on Twitter, an internet war broke out between some Nigerians accusing me of lying and spreading fake news and other Nigerians backing every word I said. In support, one man posted: "I can furnish you with pictures of babies and women being hacked to death. This is not even an argument. Whoever is defending these ills is obviously part of the illZ be assured that paid bots on this media will vigorously defend the horrible negligence of this administration."
Another posted a map from Amnesty Nigeria documenting the slaughter of Christians at the hands of (Muslim) Fulani herdsmen. The tragic facts are undeniable.
I responded forcefully to those denying the slaughter or claiming both Muslims and Christians were being killed equally, or that this was entirely political and not religious at all.
To one I wrote, "??? Muslims are slaughtering Christians. It's outright religious butchering. That's the truth, regardless of what the local media tells you."
And then, "I deeply disagree with you. We've been following this for years. It's nothing new. Just the Fulani herdsman and President Buhari are adding to the mix. (My last comment to you.) And yes, Muslims kill other Muslims. That's true. But that's the evil of radical Islam."
When I checked my Twitter feed late this morning, I was shocked to see that my account was limited for 12 hours (meaning, I can only send followers Direct Messages and cannot tweet anything of my own, make comments, or retweet or like other tweets).
What was the reason? Twitter listed these last two tweets, with this explanation: "What happened? We have determined that this account violated the Twitter Rules. Specifically, for:
- Violating our rules against hateful conduct. You may not promote violence against, threaten or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability or serious disease."
What? Hateful conduct? I was exposing hateful—actually, murderous—conduct. I was not promoting violence against other groups I was calling for the president of Nigeria to combat the violence.
Plus, I stated that Muslims also kill Muslims (an undeniable, almost daily reality) and I made specific reference to "radical Islam" so as not to indict all Muslims.
Yet somehow, I broke Twitter rules and engaged in hateful conduct. What a travesty! Twitter is silencing the very voices calling for justice and urging that innocent children, women and men be protected. How can this be?
I immediately protested their decision and received an automated reply that someone would get back to me within a few days. (This doesn't help much with a 12-hour suspension, does it?) And in order to start the 12-hour countdown, I had to delete those two "offending" tweets, which I did after taking screen shots of everything.
My only hope is that: 1) some of those angry with me for exposing the truth reported me to Twitter; 2) someone working for Twitter misread my factual reports as threats; and 3) Twitter did this entirely in error.
This once happened to me on Facebook, where a meme quoting Hamas was blocked and my account suspended. Facebook subsequently apologized and reinstated the post and my account. They thought I was calling for the extermination of the Jews in Israel. They didn't realize I was quoting Hamas.
So, again, giving the benefit of the doubt to Twitter, I'm hoping this was a simple error. If not, things on Twitter are even worse than I imagined.
The blood of the innocent is crying out from the ground. This is the least we can do.
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Evangelicals at the Crossroads: Will We Pass the Trump Test? Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter, or YouTube.
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