War of the Twitter Roses: #UniteBlue v #TGDN

War of the Twitter Roses: #UniteBlue v #TGDN

Unless you’re politically active on Twitter, it’d be easy to miss the insane behavior that’s transpired recently on the 140-character social media platform. It all began earlier this month when conservative tweeter @ToddKincannon started a new hashtag: #TGDN. The new hastag (an acronym for Twitter Gulag Defense Network) was reportedly intended to protect conservative Twitter users from being suspended by their liberal counterparts during Twitter discussions. (The way the Twitter auto-ban algorithm works is this: the more followers you have, the more difficult it is to be randomly suspended by someone using the Twitter spambot algorithm.) The content of those tweets do not matter; no live person sits at Twitter HQ reviewing every Report as Spam / Block clicked (it would be overwhelming). No – it’s an automated process that looks at different factors like follower/following count, if the “violator” abused the @reply feature, etc. in determining whether to suspend an account.

That’s why #TGDN was supposed to work – it was supposed to be a tool to bolster conservative follower numbers to prevent smaller accounts from suspension. In reality though, something much different happened. 140Elect reported recently what most liberal bloggers had already discovered: #TGDN users weren’t just banding together for protection. No, they formed a horde of spam-reporters that aimed to take down liberal Tweeters one at a time. 140Elect said:

Twitter makes it easy to report accounts for spam. When enough users report an account, it automatically gets suspended. Some users abuse this feature by organizing a group to report or “spam-block” a single account in order to get it suspended. 

Conservatives created the “Twitter Gulag Defense Network” or #TGDN to stop spam-blocking attacks. Aware that accounts with more followers are less likely to get suspended, they mutually followed anyone else using #TGDN. Now that their group is organized and members are protected, they have begun targeted spam-blocking of progressive accounts, exactly what their group was created to oppose. Ironic. 

The solution: do not engage. If you don’t @mention or follow an account first, Twitter doesn’t care whether that account spam-blocks you later. Never tweet or follow any account sporting #TGDN. Ignore any account that mentions you with #TGDN in their tweets. Unfollow any accounts with #TGDN in their biography.

Click through to the article to see a few examples of this behavior. Here’s one particularly blatant example by the head of #TGDN himself:

And here’s another one here too.


In an effort to fight the conservative spam-reporting tide, the great folks over at @UniteBlue started a similar campaign that’s taking off quite successfully. Using the hashtag #UniteBlue, liberal/progressive-minded Twitter users can join the UniteBlue network to bolster their follower numbers and prevent targeted suspensions by #TGDN users. The need for follower-protection aside, I believe #UniteBlue is truly a great idea. It has the ability to connect like-minded people to increase network connections and information sharing. 

Reaction from the right has been typical of what you’d expect from a set of people who think they have a monopoly on something (like civil rights/religion, for instance). Continue under the fold to see a few choice selections:

Tim Peacock is the Managing Editor and founder of Peacock Panache and has worked as a civil rights advocate for over twenty years. During that time he’s worn several hats including leading on campus LGBT advocacy in the University of Missouri campus system, interning with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, and volunteering at advocacy organizations. You can learn more about him at his personal website.


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