The Twitter Gulag Defense Network (#TGDN) was created in January by former executive director of the South Carolina GOP and self-proclaimed Honey Badger of American politics Todd Kincannon.
Boasting a following of more than 35,000, Kincannon considers himself the most influential conservative political voice on Twitter. You can hear him crow about his Twitter chops on this video at about the 30:00 mark. (I considered embedding the video, but it's about as interesting as watching paint dry.)
Kincannon's unique South Carolina political commentary emanates around the clock from his uber-active Twitter account:
In reality the #TGDN network is being used to silence political opposition, an ironic twist from a group which incessantly congratulates itself for its understanding and unflinching application of the Constitution to everything from AK-47 ownership to fast food gluttony. But not so much with the free speech.
TGDN members frequently tweet each other instructions to block liberal accounts. Using the #TGDN hashtag in these tweets allows all users who are monitoring that stream to see the directive, block the liberal target account, and quickly get it suspended as a spam account--even when it isn't. The Honey Badger himself is guilty of encouraging this abuse of Twitter's terms of service:
One group that has been the most frequent target of #TGDN spam blockers is StopRush. StopRush is a social media movement which has had a serious impact on Rush Limbaugh's ad revenue in the wake of his attacks last year on Georgetown student Sandra Fluke.
StopRush volunteers use Twitter to communicate with each other and with sponsors about ads on Rush Limbaugh. Extremely unpleasant right wing trolls frequent the #StopRush stream in an effort to disrupt the effort and harass volunteers with a variety of slurs and insults:
Find out what the left is doing to push back against TGDN spam blockers after the mutant carrot.
On Sunday, UniteBlue founder Zach Green spoke with me about his efforts to stem this tide of illegitimate suspensions.
Green says UniteBlue was launched 7 months ago as a way to connect the left on Twitter. The attempt to utilize it to stop spam blocking began in January after large numbers of progressive accounts started to be suspended as a result of TGDN efforts.
Green is focused on teaching people how to avoid suspensions, in part by not talking to those who are going to spam block you, since @ tweeting a spam blocker puts you at greater risk of suspension. Because having more than 3000 followers greatly reduces your chance of being suspended, UniteBlue uses lists of followers to help UniteBlue members build up follower counts.
Green believes that the ultimate solution has to be to change the algorithm so it's not so easy for people who disagree to silence one another. Among his suggestions are that Twitter might limit how often an account can make spam reports, or institute a policy that if your account has been blocked a certain number of times you can't spam block others. In the meantime, UniteBlue offers at least some defense of freedom of speech.
Zach Green's primer on how to use Twitter effectively can be found here
If you have a relatively small amount of Twitter followers, limit your follows to 50-100 per day. Following too many too fast can get you suspended for aggressive following. And don't go willy nilly following just anybody with a UniteBlue twibbon on their profile picture. You never know who you might come across.