A new protest is organizing to get Alex Jones booted off of Twitter

 mashable.com  8/12/2018 6:57:00 PM   Adam Rosenberg

Alex Jones is still on Twitter, despite the fact that he repeatedly violated the platform's rules of conduct. But this is 2018, and Twitter users are ready to protest.

Before we go any further, let's be clear about some terminology: Jones supporters would have you believe that his recent removal from other platforms is an act of censorship and a violation of First Amendment rights. That's simply untrue.

The First Amendment's free speech protections apply to all citizens, including the people behind the social media companies that gave him the boot. If these private interests decided they didn't want Jones peddling his conspiracy theories on their platforms, that's their right.

Jones is free to say whatever he wants, but there are no guarantees on where he can say it. Facebook decided, after lots of pressure, that Jones maintaining a presence on the platform was worse for business than his forced removal. So now he's gone.

Twitter made the opposite determination. Jones broke the platform's rules. CNN even proved it. But the company has made its stance clear: Evidence or not, Jones won't be punished for his past behavior.

The hypocrisy is hard to miss when all of this came just a few days after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey shared his thoughts on Jones being removed from other platforms.

Truth is we’ve been terrible at explaining our decisions in the past. We’re fixing that. We’re going to hold Jones to the same standard we hold to every account, not taking one-off actions to make us feel good in the short term, and adding fuel to new conspiracy theories.

— jack (@jack) August 8, 2018

(Note: The above tweets are part of a larger thread.)

Here's the thing about Twitter, though: Just like Facebook, it's a business. Also like Facebook, ad dollars are a big part of what helps the company stay afloat. Promoted tweets, hashtags, and accounts are moneymakers.

The other thing about Twitter that's important here: Users have control over what they see when they look at their timeline. If an undesirable account appears in your feed, you can mute or block it and that's that. This safety feature works regardless of whether the account being blocked/muted is paying to promote a tweet or not.

Right now, a protest action is taking shape that encourages users to block Twitter's advertisers en masse, using a block list. It's a simple concept: If lots of users publicly and loudly block the interests that pay for the audience reach Twitter provides, those interests might apply the pressure needed to get Jones removed from the platform.

The protest is being spearheaded by Shannon Coulter, an activist who founded a similar action called GrabYourWallet, which puts pressure on companies for carrying Trump-related products. Though it should be noted that Coulter credits the idea to her friend (also the founder of MeetingPlanner.io and AmericaPossible.com) Jeff Reifman

Coulter laid out how this GrabYourWallet-adjacent protest against Twitter's lack of action would work in a Sunday thread.

Good morning! To encourage Twitter to drop Alex Jones, I just blocked the Twitter accounts of every Fortune 500 company w/ a Twitter presence. Ready to mass block Twitter's most lucrative advertisers with me? There are three quick & easy ways. Instructions are in this thread.

— Shannon Coulter (@shannoncoulter) August 12, 2018

The thread runs through a number of different options. There's a blocking tool that Coulter created, accessible right here. The advantage to using the tool is you don't have to do anything beyond adding it to your profile. If Twitter does boot Jones, all the companies listed will be unblocked automatically.

For those that would rather avoid authorizing Twitter account access, there's also this handy Google Doc. It's the same list of companies, but you need to block them manually — a process that would obviously take some time. "Even if you only blocked the top 25 to 50 , that would have impact," Coulter wrote.

The third option is for those that don't mind getting a little more technical. Twitter allows users to import block lists via .CSV files. You'll need to grab this Google Doc containing the Twitter IDs for all the to-be-blocked companies, but the process is fairly simple.

Then go to “Settings & Privacy” in your Twitter account. Select “Blocked Accounts” on left. Select “Advanced Options” & “Import a List.” Select “Attach a File to Upload” then choose the CSV file. When Twitter drops Jones, you’ll have to manually unblock the companies one by one.

— Shannon Coulter (@shannoncoulter) August 12, 2018

Coulter adds that you should be willing to unblock the affected companies if Twitter does relent on its stance of protecting Jones. 

Blocking these accounts until Twitter drops Alex Jones means you’ll no longer see either these companies’ timeline Tweets or promoted Tweets. You'll still see their promoted hashtags, but that’s not something most companies do very often.

— Shannon Coulter (@shannoncoulter) August 12, 2018

A few notes: not all Fortune 500 companies actually have a Twitter presence but every one that does is on this list. We also added several larger companies that are not in the Fortune 500 but that have run large Twitter ad campaigns in the recent past like Samsung & HR Block.

— Shannon Coulter (@shannoncoulter) August 12, 2018

The whole effort is happening under its very own hashtag: #BlockParty500. It's still early — Coulter only laid out the idea in full, action plan and all, on Sunday. But there's already a lot of activity at that hashtag, and Coulter herself has provided one update so far (as of this writing) on how it's spreading.

Adding on to the original thread to say that we're now up to 5,380 people participating in the mass block of Fortune 500 companies on Twitter. That means for the last hour, we've continued to add about 40 new subscriptions per minute! How I love watching you all flex! 💪

— Shannon Coulter (@shannoncoulter) August 12, 2018

These types of protests have proven themselves to be effective in recent times, so give it a shot if you're furious at the double-standard Twitter apparently applied to protect Jones.

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