Last week the parody account Peter Douche (@angryberner) was suspended from Twitter for allegedly impersonating another person, presumably Peter Daou. Peter Douche has been a mainstay in progressive twitter circles the last several months providing witty commentary on the current state of politics.
“I should have seen my permanent banishment from Twitter coming. When I say something controversial like ‘imagine how unstoppable the resistance will be after Hillary loses in 2020’ it’s bound to make a few million enemies. Yes it means four more years of Trump, but Hillary’s worth it. How don’t they see that?”
Peter Douche was removed with little to no recourse for reinstatement. Although the Twitter suspension notification claimed the account was in violation of the impersonation policy, Peter Douche was in compliance with the parody policy. Essentially, the impersonation policy requires an intent to deceive or a portrayal in an otherwise confusing manner. The parody policy indicates the account must clearly note that it is a parody account and that it cannot have the exact name. He received no warnings and there was no indication he was a “repeat offender.”
Aside from the face used, the profile was distinct and could not be construed as an impersonation. The chocolate donuts and Owned Together cover photo are a dead give away to the intended audience. Only an intentionally obtuse person would claim Peter Douche could be confused with the actual account of Peter Daou. It is clearly a parody, employing satire and political humor intended for a particular audience as required by the Parody Policy.
Speaking from exile, Peter Douche described an effort against him to encourage reporting of his account to get it shut down. One Twitter user even bragged about reporting the account weekly until Twitter finally relented.
These users could mute or even block the Peter Douche account, yet they choose to engage in a manner that misused and abused the Twitter reporting system. He stated that when he first created the account he did get a warning from Twitter and updated the profile to more clearly conform to the parody policy.
When asked how he felt regarding the suspension and lack of warning, Peter Douche replied, “Frankly, if Twitter’s rules were clearly laid out and enforced equitably, we wouldn’t be in this situation.” He further explained “Comedian Peter Daou never had to label his account a parody. How’s that fair?”
— THEO-EO-BO-BEO-BUN-ANTiFA-FA-FO-FEO (@theo_dillon) November 9, 2017
Last year, Twitter suspended an account that mocked its handling of harassment and other reports on the platform. Twitter also came under fire after suspending a Putin parody account. Both accounts were ultimately reinstated.
Satire and parody provide an alternative means of expression. Asked for his final thoughts on this matter, Peter Douche responded: “What I will miss most about Twitter is all the spirited debates over the years with all the people who I didn’t block, who all agree with me.”
Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have become important forums for dialogue and exercising free speech. Users can interact in various conversations and exchanges across subject matter. However, with the increased use of these spaces for exercising speech in the advancement of particular politics, there appears to be more focus on silencing left-leaning accounts than others.
— Lee Camp [Redacted] (@LeeCamp) November 8, 2017
Although private companies, platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are the digital marketplace of ideas. Both platforms provide space for people to express themselves and engage with others. Having access to discourse and commentary on the current state of political and social affairs is crucial to maintaining Democracy.
Peter Douche followed Twitter’s Parody Policy and must be reinstated.
Read on The Progressive Army.