Saturday night, The Daily Wire’s own Michael Knowles revealed on his Instagram that he’d been suspended by Twitter over a joke tweet instructing Democrats to vote on November 7, the Wednesday after Election Day.
Twitter, which has been loathe to remove threatening tweets, and, according to reports, tolerated the man allegedly behind a nationwide bombing campaign that targeted prominent Democrats with “functional” explosive devices, even though he repeatedly threatened his eventual victims with violence on the platform, determined Knowles’ (admittedly lame) joke was worth direct, immediate, and unmerciful action.
Twitter wrote to Knowles to inform him that his tweet “violated Twitter rules” — though the rule in question was never specified — and instructed Knowles that he could return to Twitter only when the offending tweet was deleted.
OFFICIALLY BLOCKED FROM TWITTER! My Twitter account has been suspended three days before the midterm elections, allegedly for explicitly joking that Twitter suspends conservatives over election jokes. Meanwhile, Louis Farrakhan tweets about how Jews are “termites” without any repercussions. Please tweet your displeasure to @twitter! #FreeKnowles
A post shared by Michael Knowles (@michaeljknowles) on Nov 3, 2018 at 3:19pm PDT
Twitter is, of course, a private platform and can execute its rules in any way it sees fit, but as Knowles and a number of other Twitter uses noted, not only has Twitter allowed more offensive content to remain on their platform, but Twitter failed to take action against left-of-center users who made the same joke, suggesting that Republicans should remember to go to the polls on November 7th, the day after the mid-terms.
Lots of left-wing accounts make the same election joke I did (without the punchline) and remain fully operational. Yet when a conservative jokes about this very phenomenon, Twitter blocks—three days before the midterm elections! Tell @Twitter to stop the censorship of conservatives! #FreeKnowles
A post shared by Michael Knowles (@michaeljknowles) on Nov 3, 2018 at 3:32pm PDT
Twitter users quickly banded together to form a #FreeKnowles movement, tweeting their support for the embattled Daily Wire podcast host who was unfairly booted from a social media platform rife with bad humor.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) November 4, 2018
— Andrew Klavan (@andrewklavan) November 3, 2018
— Kassy Dillon (@KassyDillon) November 4, 2018
— Señia (@ayasgirl) November 4, 2018
— Emily Zanotti (@emzanotti) November 4, 2018
In response to an outpouring of scorn, criticizing Twitter for discriminating between conservatives and leftists making the same joke — suspending only a prominent conservative for the crime of giving bad information — Twitter doubled down on its mistake, suspending leftist accounts making the “November 7th” joke, rather than just restoring Knowles’ access.
It looks as if Twitter took action against the verified lefties making the same joke. That’s more consistency than I expected, but is a correction in the wrong direction for the principle of free expression. https://t.co/jC8VK9ZMVF
— Jeremy Boreing (@JeremyDBoreing) November 4, 2018
Conservatives quickly pointed out that Twitter considers itself a bastion of free speech, and a platform open to ideas — but doesn’t often restrict Twitter users like anti-Semitic preacher Louis Farrakhan, who recently used the platform to call the Jewish people “termites.” And more, by banning Knowles for making a joke, Twitter was declaring comedy, as a whole, off-limits.
Twitter should just suspend everyone who makes any attempt at humour. No fun allowed. Twitter thinks everyone is too dumb to understand clear jokes.
— Elu Thankful (@Strangeland_Elf) November 4, 2018
As of Sunday afternoon, Knowles’ posting privileges had yet to be restored.