Twitter bans man for mosquito death threat
Forgive me if I seem to be going a bit conspiracy-theorist here, but is it possible that the Japanese offices of Twitter are run by mosquitos? It’s just that the company is, by its own admission, not known for taking abuse very seriously, and yet the Japanese version is if anything a touch overzealous.
The social media giant has banned the account of a man who made death threats against a mosquito. Although unlike most social media abuse, the man did actually follow through on his threats, posting a grizzly photo as proof.
If you don’t speak Japanese, here’s what those words mean: “Bastard! Do you enjoy biting me all over while I’m trying to relax and watch TV? Die? (Actually, you’re already dead).” Twitter’s response was a message informing DaydreamMatcha that his account had “been frozen because it was used to send messages containing threats.”
That feels like overkill – not least because there’s no evidence the late mosquito was an active user of Twitter. Though in terms of population size, Twitter is right to prioritise mosquitos over human life. While nobody has bothered to undertake a full mosquito census, in 2015 it was estimated there were 17 trillion of the blood-sucking insects in Alaska alone. That dwarves our special human interests, when we only number 7.5 billion worldwide.
Of course, what is likely really happening here is an algorithm going rogue. Twitter’s will be scanning texts for patterns of terms it finds abusive – “bastard”, “die”, and “dead” were the likely culprits in the offending sentence – and banning automatically. Obviously, algorithms have a long way to go.
Still, if my original theory is correct and Twitter Japan is run by a giant mosquito, then this is definitely something that Valerie Plame Wilson should address if she raises the funds needed to buy the social network. After she’s banned Donald Trump, of course.