Jesse Kelly, a conservative writer, radio host, and failed Republican political candidate, is no longer welcome on Twitter: The social media site permanently banned him on Sunday, for reasons unknown.
Many on the right saw this as evidence that Twitter is unfairly silencing conservatives; others were neither surprised nor particularly sad to see Kelly disappear. Twitter is a private company and can ban anyone it wants, of course. But it would be helpful if the site administrators explained what exactly Kelly did to merit such draconian measures—especially if Twitter wishes to put a damper on the right-wing notion that social media censorship is a serious issue meriting federal intervention.
It's not clear which tweets got Kelly in trouble, or if it was something else. The decision to ban him could have been the result of baseless complaints, or even an error on Twitter's part. Kelly told other conservative writers that he was left completely in the dark, reportedly receiving the following message from Twitter: "Your account was permanently suspended due to multiple or repeat violations of the Twitter rules. The account will not restored. Please do not respond to this email as replies and new appeals for this account will not be monitored."
If this was truly the full extent of Twitter's communication with Kelly, then the social media platform has violated its own policy. As the writer Jeryl Bier pointed out, Twitter's terms claim that a permanent ban will be accompanied by an explanation of which policies were violated "and which content was in violation."
Kelly's tough-guy shtick is fairly obnoxious. He called Sen. Jeff Flake (R–AZ) a coward for siding with "the enemy" (Democrats) and delaying the vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. He also fantasized about a second American civil war, refusing to submit passively to "the liberal utopian nightmare of 57 genders." But if demonizing your political opponents is a crime on Twitter, there are millions more accounts to ban. To my knowledge, Kelly hasn't engaged in the kind of targeted harassment or direct advocacy of violence that should earn a rebuke from the platform. And if he has, Twitter should point it out.
I say should, because this free service is not obligated to humor its conservative users' desire for transparency and fairness, no matter how loudly they complain. But the idea that major tech companies are beholden to progressive goals is becoming a major talking point on cable news; absent proper justification, Twitter's treatment of Kelly will add fuel to this fire.