(This is the letter I sent to Twitter after my account was suspended: 36 hours after I submitted this appeal, I got my account back with no loss of content or followers. Names of accused parties have been changed: but those hoes know who they is…)
Thank you for this further opportunity to appeal the suspension of my @fuelgrannie Twitter account.
I have been using the name fuelgrannie since the internet’s inception in mid-1990s: I was, wisely, protective of my identity back then and was reticent to use my real name. “fuelgrannie” was a moniker I chose after some consideration as I wanted a name that I would feel comfortable using for years, a name that would grow with me and consistently reflect who I am. This name, “fuel” for the band Fuel and “grannie” to celebrate aging, has become my literal brand, a brand which further solidified during my ten years of use on Twitter. fuelgrannie is also the name of my Instagram, New York Times commenter and Reddit accounts but it started as my very first and still active email account. My first foray into public engagement was on the MTV message boards, the dinosaur precursor to modern social media, some two decades ago where I interacted with people from all over the country and the world; I still have paper printouts of scores of other users wishing me happy birthday one year. fuelgrannie has had an established online presence and personality since even before the new millennium.
The fuelgrannie name means a great deal to me personally but it is also tied to my professional efforts: it is a brand name in effect, a brand which has been developing for almost a quarter of a century now. My social media is part of my work resume: I am proud to send prospective clients my Twitter profile; I am proud of the following I have grown and I am especially proud of the content I provide, crafted from thoughtful and careful research. This past year, I provided boots-on-ground investigative reporting and analysis from the front lines of the Amazon HQ2 fiasco as the tech company attempted to set up camp near where I live in Long Island City, Queens. Recently, I have also been drawing attention to the Queens democratic political machine: my tweets are critical and truthful information that voters and other interested parties should have access to. I am known for my data-packed tweet threads, my sourcing, my deliberateness and my honesty: these tweets are my work and they serve to educate the general public. My fuelgrannie name remains recognizable and trustworthy: I am a reliable source for journalists, politicians and activists.
And I have ticked off a few people along the way.
As the Amazon deal crumbled in Long Island City this past February, I was swiftly blocked by Amazon’s VP of Public Policy, Brian Huseman and Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times journalist Serge Kovaleski, the latter a Long Island City homeowner. Since then, a few minor local politicians along with a selection of local property owners have also blocked me, furious at my stance against what was ultimately a shady business deal from which Amazon itself bailed very quickly, making the whole fiasco appear even more suspicious. Time has shown I had neither bad judgment nor poor research when it comes to this company.
The name “fuelgrannie” has become a reviled character to the pro-Amazon supporters in my borough: I have been sent tweets with memes of people defecating; I have been called “crazy,” “delusional,” “kook,” “asshole,” “immoral,” “callous;” I have been told I should have been beaten as a child; I have been sent gifs of people getting kicked in the neck. I do not begrudge anyone their response to me as they must endure the consequences of their actions; they alone make themselves look less credible when they insinuate violence or have no cogent argument against me other than claiming my insanity. Even now as my account remains suspended, my detractors are openly celebrating my absence.
But I rarely act in kind. My arguments use facts, reposted tweets/tweet threads and other cogent research. I never lie, I always take full responsibility for my content and my own words, good bad and ugly. Most of the time I strive to be respectful, especially when someone is engaging with me in a disrespectful manner, because such an attitude comes naturally to me and also because it makes my opponents’ bad behavior more apparent. My timeline reflects such conduct and I’ve frequently experienced people telling me in real life that they can’t believe what I go through and how well I handle it. I am now heavily involved in the Queens political scene and am known for my honesty, my bravery, my ability to articulate and my fair way of fighting. Most of the time.
Because there have been rare times when I have hit below the belt. And there have been (more) times when I have blind-tweeted in a shady, petty manner. And there have been times when I have been directly impatient, unkind, quick-tempered and disrespectful to other users but that only happens when I get repeatedly provoked and I make the choice not to rise above the situation. But that just does not happen that often with me, which my tweets reflect. It doesn’t make me look good when I take the low road, nor does it make me feel good, or even feel like myself, when I do stoop to do it. Again, my timeline attests to that: my overall and consistent mode of argument engagement is patient, knowledgeable, tolerant, thorough and respectful. I stop engagement with people when they insinuate violence, when they are caught lying or when they solely want to fight endless fights. I do not indulge gratuitous Twitter wars: I have neither the time nor the inclination.
I do however, selectively chose to defend myself when it’s necessary. I have been accused (quite strangely since I am broke as a joke) of being a secret millionaire. In real life however, I have a profoundly developmentally disabled sibling for whom I have partial financial responsibility since our parents left us with almost no inheritance when they died: these personal facts have been called lies and my brother has been mocked directly to me. These were tweets I could not report because they didn’t fit the criteria for reporting under your terms of service: but I still endured that bullying without reacting back in an inappropriate manner.
I am happy to provide you with these tweets. These tweets were sent by accounts whose tweets I have consistently reported on my behalf and the behalf of others being abused. I have been trolled and, in some cases, bullied and harassed by these accounts: I have had to endure that whether I am able to report an offending tweet or not. Having my personal situation mocked, dismissed or found to not be credible has been the toughest burden to endure here on Twitter and I am very proud of how I have handled myself when I have been bullied about my personal details.
I have also noted to you, Twitter, when I report these tweets, the history and context of these engagements. Two accounts in particular have been quasi-violent with me [in this blogpost, I will refer to them as Loudie and Windie; in my appeal to Twitter, I supplied their account handles]. Loudie and Windie are part of the local pro-Amazon gang, they are both landlords and they both deliberately behave in a similar disrespectful, long-winded and irrational manner. They shame people for their physical appearance; they mock female sex workers; one even posted the name and street address of a local progressive activist; I have not been the only target of their irrational, untrue and cruel tirades. Whenever I have reported them, along with notation of the history of their consistently poor engagement with me, I have never seen them suffer any consequences other than the doxing incident because that instance was so extreme and I was not the only person to report it.
But many times, their conduct and behavior are condoned by Twitter because their offensive tweets remain and their attitude and engagement have never toned down. And yet here I am, the person who ends up with the suspended account. Even as I write this now, I have no idea specifically why my account was suspended and I do hope some clarity can be given to me.
What I suspect happened is that I was hyperly reported this past week, the timing of which curiously coincides with the October monthly meeting of a group I will refer to in this blogpost as GrowthieNewYork [in my appeal to Twitter, I supplied their account handle], a pro-Amazon, pro-gentrification, pro-development local group whose members have been aggressive with me and a few have blocked me. Their mode of conduct is surprisingly similar to Loudie and Windie and their sock puppet cohorts, who have trolled me for months now; they also engage in a specific behavior known as “flying monkeys,” as in the Wizard of Oz, where many accounts swoop in to silence, overwhelm, shame and ultimately stop any dissention. In my case, it is my anti-gentrification efforts and my criticism of the GrowthieNewYork organization
GrowthieNewYork is proudly YIMBY, meaning “Yes in My Back Yard” as they aim to get rid of historical districts in New York City by advocating for the tearing down of landmarked buildings with taller nondescript structures to then take their place. They generally engage in groups for battle with various single accounts who dare to engage or confront them: they mock aesthetic appreciation, dismiss the need for lower income housing and become disrespectful exaggerators when confronted on their tactics.
But more importantly, GrowthieNewYork has been dishonest about its not-for-profit status, about which I had been recently tweeting. I suspect news of efforts was shared at their monthly meeting, which occurred this past Wednesday, and I suspect they encouraged a bombardment of reports against me. My suspension occurred less than 48 hours later: again, I hope you can kindly provide the specific reason as to why and I wonder if my suspicion is right and that from Wednesday to Friday, Oct 2 – Oct 4, 2019, you received a barrage of complaints about me.
And again, I am happy to provide a list of accounts which may have been involved in this barrage: members of GrowthieNewYork, other local and national YIMBY activists, accounts with bike and avocado emojis in their handles. I can share a thread in which I engaged where I was bombarded by about ten accounts and endured a “flying monkey” pile-on which I handled with truth and research even while a select few of those accounts behaved inappropriately, but not in violation of your TOS so I could not report the tweets and instead defended myself. I wonder if those accounts could have played a part in suspending my account.
And that alone, getting a group together to try to silence another account, is, in effect, breaking your terms of service: it is harassment and bullying and I ask you to take that aspect seriously. I suspect YIMBY accounts conspired to get my account suspended and I ask you to take that into consideration with the processing of this case.
I ask also for you to please consider the ten years’ worth of work and research I have posted on my Twitter account: I had assumed this content would never be in jeopardy of being removed and that once I had publicly published it, it could be easily sourced and available for anyone to see it, learn from it and use it. I created this content, it is important to me and it has served my community well: I implore you to please that into consideration as well. My work has helped raise awareness: I am proud of my reputation and visibility in my neighborhood, borough and with the causes I promote. My work has been valuable and even significant in its own way. If you chose to never reinstate my account, I ask that you be able to please provide me with the decade’s worth of work and content I created. I appreciate you own this data but I argue that I half-own it, too, as its creator and I ask to at least be able to get it back in my possession for my own use.
I am happy to delete any specific tweets which have been determined to be inappropriate for the site and in the effort and good faith to get my account back: again, I look forward to learning what I actually did to earn this suspension. I have no idea what I did: that’s why I think this was a deliberately targeted campaign against me.
I ask for you to please give me back my fuelgrannie name and presence on your website. It is part of who I am, it is tied to my work and ability to generate income (it will be inconsistent for my brand to have to create another account riffing off of an already weird name) and it is a self-assigned moniker I have been using for almost half of my life now. I have conducted myself well on Twitter, I have grown from a cheerleader for Queens with a few hundred followers to an advocate for justice and transparency with over 3600 hundred followers: I have worked hard for every one of those followers, some of whom are so important to me, like the Exonerated Five and I ask that these online relationships and connections be restored.
I look forward to the next steps in this process and I hope very much to get my name back on a site where it had grown and thrived because there is no replacing a name I have used and invested in. Because most of all, I just want my name and my brand back.
Many thanks for your time and attention to this issue which means so much to me. I hope to resolve this as fairly as possible. I ask for you to consider my length of time on Twitter, my engagement carriage over the years and the possibility that my suspension may have been a strategic and deliberate attack against me by an organized group.
With appreciation, CM