“The Wire” creator David Simon lashed out against Twitter Friday after the service apparently blocked him over some heated exchanges with other Twitter users. On his blog, Simon alleged that Twitter was applying its terms of service selectively, tolerating hate speech while at the same time banning users like him who got into arguments with users he described as bigots.
A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment on the specific case, and sent Variety the following statement instead:
“We cannot comment on specific accounts for privacy and security reasons, but it’s against the Twitter Rules to engage in the targeted harassment of someone, or incite other people to do so. We consider abusive behavior an attempt to harass, intimidate, or silence someone else’s voice.”
Simon took issue with this policy, writing: “Suffice to say that while you can arrive on Twitter and disseminate the untethered and anti-human opinion that mothers who have their children kidnapped and held incommunicado from them at the American border are criminals — and both mother and child deserve that date — or that 14-year-old boys who survive the Holocaust are guilty of betraying fellow Jews when there is no evidence of such, you CANNOT wish that these people should go away and die of a fulminant venereal rash.”
He added: “Slander is cool, brutality is acceptable. But the hyperbolic and comic hope that a just god might smite the slanderer or brutalizer with a deadly skin disorder is somehow beyond the pale.”
Earlier this week, Simon had gotten into heated arguments with Twitter users who were trying to blame the Obama administration for the Justice Department’s new policy to separate children arriving at the U.S. border from their parents.
On Friday, he said that he’d be “indifferent” to removing those tweets, which had apparently been flagged by other users as abusive. “As far as I’m concerned, your standards in this instance are exactly indicative of why social media — and Twitter specifically — is complicit in transforming our national agora into a haven for lies, disinformation and the politics of totalitarian extremity,” he wrote. “The real profanity and disease on the internet is untouched, while you police decorum.”
Twitter has frequently been criticized in the past for not doing enough to fight hate and abuse on its platform. As a result, the company instituted a number of measures against users that violate its terms of service, including a penalty box that allows users to remain on the platform, but disables the ability to retweet their tweets for a limited amount of time.
Update: 9:42 a.m. PT: This post was updated with a statement from Twitter.