In an apparent attempt to silence free speech, Twitter has permanently banned one of the UK’s most high-profile activists. But in doing so, it has opened itself up to a swathe of criticism.
Lauri Love is the 32-year-old computer scientist and activist at the centre of a current extradition storm in the UK and US. But Twitter suspended Love’s account without warning on 6 March. And on 9 March, they notified him of the following:
Love believes it may be in relation to a tweet he made about “punching nazis”; a reference to the assault of far-right figure Richard Spencer in January. But Twitter has not given a specific reason for Love’s suspension. He said in a post on Facebook:
Friends, Nazi-punchers, autonomist comrades-at-arms… I have been suspended by Twitter. I don’t know why. Probably because of silly tone-policing algorithms and/or butthurt white supremacists. However, it is not because I am about to be surprise kidnapped and rendered to the USA to be locked up and tortured.
And in a later post, he said:
Being an actual Nazi on twitter: fine and dandy. Advocating punching Nazis on twitter: permanently banned for violent threats. This is why we can’t have nice things… (Only told I will never get my account back for obscure probably made-up reasons after starting a dozen support threads.)
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The US government has accused Love of taking part in the hacking of FBI, NASA and US Federal Reserve websites. But there has been no evidence to support these allegations. And Love not only denies them but states that the hacking attacks referred to were clearly just “prankery”.
He is currently appealing the court’s decision. Having submitted his grounds for appeal, the High Court will hear his case in the summer.
But it’s not only hacktivist circles that Love moves in. As The Canary previously reported, he supports the political squatting group Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians. This group has been occupying high-profile, multi-million-pound mansions in London. The aim being to house the homeless, but also to raise awareness of the housing crisis in the UK. The group’s most recent occupation was of 4, Grosvenor Gardens – a high-profile address right next door to Buckingham Palace.
Authorities reportedly consider the political group a “threat” to the Royal Family; something members deny. So much so that on their eviction from Grosvenor Gardens, the Met Police helped the bailiffs in what was purely a civil matter.
If Twitter suspended Love’s account purely for his posts about “punching Nazis”, this would be unusual (and an example of Twitter being overly strong-armed). As one blogger noted:
This is a severe injustice and a blatant act of censorship targeting an Anti-Fascist activist, while those using Twitter to spread fear and hatred towards people of colour, refugees, immigrants, women and the queer community are allowed to keep doing so.
But is there something more suspect to his social media suspension?
Nope. Just an enemy of the state.
Love is vocal about his opposition to state overreach; and about his support for groups that the establishment deems a “security threat” (to the establishment) and which routinely use the law to gain victories against wealthy elites.
And the police themselves appear to be becoming more heavy-handed and autocratic. Just this week, anti-fracking campaigners accused them of acting like “stormtroopers” in Lancashire, with two local politicians even accusing them of assault. And on Tuesday 7 March, an unmarked police surveillance van was monitoring a protest by disabled people.
Is it too much to think that government hands were involved with his suspension? Possibly. But whatever the reason, it’s another example of the subversion of social media freedoms.
– Support Lauri Love on Facebook.
– Find out more about his case.
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