Twitter Gives Conflicting Reasons for Suspending User Who Tweeted Links to 3D Gun Plans After Sen. Bob Menendez Asked Them To

The senator asked for a private business to squash a citizen's communication, and they did it, though they don't say they did it for him.


In March, Sen. Bob Menendez (D–N.J.) publicly called on Twitter to suspend the account of user @ivanthetroll12 because he sometimes used his tweets to link to software files that would help owners of certain devices to make weapons at home. Menendez's home state of New Jersey has banned the distribution of such software, though the constitutionality of that ban is being fought out in court.

In April, that user's account was indeed suspended. At the time, both Twitter and the senator's press office ignored requests from me for any comment or clarification on any communication between them regarding @ivanthetroll12's suspension that might shed light on whether Twitter acted in response to, or in collusion with, the senator in shutting down a citizen's access to its service.

The user behind that account has been using another account on Twitter since, @det_disp (Deterrence Dispensed). Today, Sean Campbell at The Trace reports that he obtained a copy of a communication from Twitter to Sen. Menendez in which the company claims that it has a longstanding policy of prohibiting "the promotion of weapons and weapons accessories globally," but that the reason they suspended @ivanthetroll12 was because he "is in violation of our policy of evading an account suspension."

While the man behind the account is admittedly doing that very thing now with his new account, he insists in an email today that the original account was the very first one he ever created, and Twitter indeed provides no proof that he violated any policy of evading an account suspension at the time they suspended @ivanthetroll12.

Their statement to Sen. Menendez about their policy regarding "promotion of weapons" is, as The Trace points out, about a "policy [that] only applies to 'Twitter's paid advertising products,' not general users."

This led the man behind the accounts to tweet today that "in that [Trace] article, you'll find that Twitter gave Menendez one reason (ban evasion) but gave Sean another (illegal content). Even Twitter can't get their story straight. THEY ARE MAKING UP REASONS TO BAN PEOPLE AS THEY GO ALONG."

The Trace's Campbell reported that a Twitter spokesperson told him the account was suspended, not for the reason the company told Sen. Menendez, but because "Accounts sharing 3D-printed gun designs are in violation of the Twitter Rules' unlawful use policy." The company has the stated rule that "You may not use our service for any unlawful purposes or in furtherance of illegal activities."

Whether the spreading of such files is, in fact, illegal anywhere but in New Jersey and California, which Campbell points out are the only states with laws prohibiting either the files specifically or the "distribution of guns and gun designs that lack serial numbers and are therefore untraceable by law enforcement," and whether those laws will eventually pass constitutional muster, remains to be seen.

Twitter's position in the cultural war over guns, though, seems clear enough. Despite this, The Trace did find that other accounts doing things similar to what @ivanthetroll12 did have at least so far avoided suspension.

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  1. I asked Senator Fux-His-Face to ban Tulpa from Reason.com, and I ain’t seen Tulpa (Thank Government Almighty!) on Reason.com in a LONG time now! (Love you LONG time, I say, Reason.com!!!)

    Is this a COINCIDENCE, I ask yew?!?!?

    1. Shut up, Tulpa!

      1. I’m not sure exactly how creeped out I should be with Hihn’s obsession. I clearly got to him and he can’t seem to control himself as a result.

    2. How very libertarian of you.

      Regardless, much like with your life, you totally failed.

      1. Half of the “libertarians” here seem to be okay with speech restrictions as long as it is only government giving tech companies a wink wink to censor the opposing party and not direct law. They ignore the government contracts, favored legal protections and such going to the favored companies… not sure when reason decided to breed naive libertarians.

  2. I was assured that this does not happen.

  3. Twitter is a private business and can treat their users however they want. The same way when you go to Walmart they can kick you in the nuts and steal your wallet, it’s not like there’s any sort of implied or expressed contract on how each side is expected to behave toward the other.

    1. The same way a baker could refuse to cater you… oh, wait

      1. If he welches on a contract that says he would, then yes he should have to bake Sodomite’s their cake.

        1. This is why certain industries have a box to check next to an anal sex clause. If someone doesn’t read the catering contract well enough to notice an anal sex clause before signing that contract, I’ll show up for the wedding and the dancing, but I won’t eat the food, not even the vegetarian food.

          Seriously thought, gay does not equal anal sex. There are other things two men can do together.

          One could argue that being certified as kosher by a religious organization that objects to same-sex marriage is fair notice by a bakery that it will not promote same-sex relationships in writing on a wedding cake. In related news, some of the Orthodox Jews in Bergen County, NJ are threatening to make their own group to certify food establishments due to disagreements over gender roles.

          1. “gay does not equal anal sex. ”

            Sodomy doesn’t either.

      2. Oh esteve. Way to prove you’re fucking stupid. Did the Baker ever agree to go into business with various customers? Did he violate his agreed to terms with said customers?

    2. Is there any sort of valid contract between Twitter and the users, implied or express? Remember the 4 elements of contracts: offer and acceptance, exchange of consideration, capacity, and legality. Twitter only has contracts with its advertisers. Where is the exchange of consideration between Twitter and its users?

      1. Somebody *cough* up-thread *Chipper* never went to law school.

        Valid consideration can be a promise for a promise. I will forgo doing something if you will forgo doing something. Consideration must only be an exchange of (perceived) value.

        Twitter User: “I want to use your service (Signs up for Twitter account) (1. Offer), and if I must, I will abide by your terms.”
        Twitter: “You can use my service, if you agree to these terms, including, do you have capacity (3. are you legally allowed in your state, or the U.S. to enter into this type of agreement?), and if so, will you agree to not… (Consideration).”
        Twitter User: -Clicks Accept- (1.b. Acceptance)

        4. If the contract is not for an explicit illegal purpose, it is presumed to be legal.

        Upon further review, Chipper Morning Wood must be correct. He was the first to discover this glaring loophole in contract law that no one else had ever thought of. I vaguely remember that time before time when Twitter was taken down in the courts by class-action lawsuits from users claiming there was no contract.

        -QED, or some such

        1. What! You mean a twitter account established by someone demeaned too mentally incompetent to file a court case in federal courts could be used to …

          Where was I going with this?

          Oh look, a bird!

      2. Chipper, yes, there is. Did you read the giant Terms of Services page that you have to agree to to make your account? Probably not, but that’s the agreement. Consideration and capacity is just the use of the service.

        The problem I see is that if Twitter banned someone on the request of a politician, that gets very close to violation of the first amendment.

      3. Oh esteve. Way to prove you’re fucking stupid. Did the Baker ever agree to go into business with various customers? Did he violate his agreed to terms with said customers?

      4. Yes. Next stupid question chipper?

  4. How many times do we have to explain this, Doherty? Twitter is a private platform and they can censor anyone they like for whatever reason. If you don’t like it go start your own social media company , your own government and your own communication/information infrastructure and spout whatever hate speech you would like, duh!

    I thought this was supposed to be a libertarian website. For a magazine called Reason

    1. Terms of service
      any of this ring a bell with you?

      Oh, wait. SIV.
      I got to quit scrolling past the username before replying.

    2. How many times do we have to explain the term “contract “ and common carrier to your dumb ass before it sinks in?

      1. Reading comprehension is low this evening.

        1. On your part it sure as hell is. Just because it is my company doesn’t mean I get to Welch on my contracts with my customers. Jesus Christ you are dense

        2. You are right. I missed the sarcasm my apologies

      2. 1. Twitter is not a ‘common carrier’. It never has been. “A common carrier offers its services to the general public under license or authority provided by a regulatory body.”

        2. You don’t have a contract with Twitter. There are ‘terms of service’ – which are completely one-sided and can be modified by Twitter at any time.

    3. Well, I can’t get New Jersey leave the USA single-handedly. I’ll get the ball rolling but others have to push things along too.

    4. How many times do you have to prove you are incapable of rational or intelligent though SIV. Twotter does not have carte blanche ability to do what it wants. They’ve agreed to various restrictions for legal exemptions and have agreed to terms of service for their customers. Sorry you cant get this through your thick skull.

    5. Of course they are, but there’s nothing wrong with hollering about uneven application/enforcement of their Ts&Cs. Especially if that unevenness is skewed to enforce a particular political position…platform users can make better decisions about using a platform if they know the facts about it.

      Worse, when a platform like Twitter or Facebook is pretending to be fair and honest and open, but is in fact none of the above and instead is pimping a particular position and excluding the opposition, those platforms become, like CNN and Fox News, little more than propaganda machines. And again, users should know this.

  5. Twitter sucks.

    Fuck Twitter.

    1. Twitter is the most aptly named of all social media services. Their users are all twits.

  6. Twitter is a sewer and always has been. If you walk and play in the sewer you get what you deserve.

    That a scumbag like Menendez got involved just shows how bad Twitter is.

    1. Fuck Twitter is right. Give statutory damages to plaintiffs when social media companies are found to violate their terms of service

      1. Social media companies can’t violate their terms of service any more than you can cheat at a a single player game.

        Because just like when playing with yourself – *you are the sole arbitrator of what the rules are*.

        1. A tweet cannot happen without data going into the equipment that Twitter owns entirely. Users volunteer their time sending their data to Twitter so that others can be impressed with its infotainment value, but whoever owns the hosting equipment gets to make the rules.

          1. Basically:

            Menendez: “This is MY house!”

            Twitter: “But it’s my hosting equipment … oh fuck it. Never mind. I saw what happened to BackPage.”

  7. Private business, they can do whatever they want(tm)

    Nothing to see here.

    1. I guess we can add Reason (or at least Brian Doherty) to the list of right-leaning authoritarians seeking to destroy the open twitterverse in The Age of Trump.

      1. Where does he advocate destroying Twitter?

        This is a problem I’ve been seeing increasingly on both sides lately, the idea that things one doesn’t like must be forced to change. But that’s not true at all, Twitter has a right to operate how it sees fit, and I (and Brian Doherty) have a right to criticize how they operate. That does not extend to a right to force a change in how they operate

  8. Let’s be clear, Menendez is the asshole here.

    1. Didn’t you read the XKCD comic? This @ivanthetroll12 rando is the asshole and twitter is showing him the free and open internet door.

      I think that makes Sen Menendez the hero.

      1. Just because ivanthetroll12 is an asshole doesn’t make Menendez they hero. From where I sit Menendez is just another asshole, but one that Twitter is kissing rather than showing the door

    2. Let’s be clear, Menendez is the asshole here.


      Yes, no doubt; Menendez is the asshole here.

    3. Don’t be crass – everyone’s an asshole here.

  9. Birds tweet. People speak.

    1. #getwiththeprogramgrandpa

    2. The whole point of social media (and the “progressive” legislative and moral program in general) is to turn people from individual human beings into ants, a collective of workers striving for the greater good, redounding for the most part to the ruling class.

      Human beings write novels and short stories and plays. Ants communicate a few bits of information at a time.

  10. So when does the non-SJW, non-kowtowing-to-govt-officials Twitter equivalent get some publicity (assuming it exists, which I presume it does)?

  11. What a panicky snowflake this guy is [/ENB]

  12. Today, Sean Campbell at The Trace reports that he obtained a copy of a communication from Twitter to Sen. Menendez in which the company claims that it has a longstanding policy of prohibiting “the promotion of weapons and weapons accessories globally,” but that the reason they suspended @ivanthetroll12 was because he “is in violation of our policy of evading an account suspension.”

    You mean they blocked tweets by the government of Iran about their right to develop nuclear weapons?

  13. But they’re a private entity so…they are free to do whatever they want, right? This is a non-issue, right?

  14. So would Twitter shut down your account if you tweeted how to go to the local sporting goods store to buy a gun? It’s just information.

  15. The creator and top lawyer for Twitter went on the Joe Rogan Experience not too long back to discuss their controversial censorship policies. Joe was well mannered but did press them a bit. Both lied to his face and to everyone listening. Joe did a good job of exposing them while remaining civil. Almost as if he wants their to be a dialogue and possibly change their was. Doubt it will happen.

    Best option is to not use Twitter. I refuse to use their services because they are a propaganda arm for the left. More people should do the same. Continuing to complain about them is like griping about water being wet.

    Walk away from Twitter and Facebook.

    1. Joe did a terrible job the first go around. He did okay the second and thereon after w other guests.

      1. Joe admits he doesn’t follow or care about it. Tim Pool did quite well when he was there with Joe and the Twitter peeps.

  16. The day access to Twitter/Facebook/Snapchat/grindr/Fetlife/fChan becomes a government mandated right is the day I quit this world.

  17. Twitter, as a private company, certainly has a right to ban him for just about any reason they want; but if they’re banning him because of “soft” pressure from the government, thats concerning.

    This seems to be a (hopefully short term) new trend. Politicians don’t outright call for banning free speech or pushing for “hate crime” laws (which I kinda wish they would, that way at least they would be honest about it). Instead, what they’re doing is much more sinister, paying lip service to the concept of free speech while putting indirect pressure on private companies, hoping they would “self censor”.

    We saw it with the NFL when they pushed out Kaprinick, while taking $$ from the US armed forced for advertising. Facebook sort of did it, and now twitter. Before all that, the MPAA may have been one of the earliest examples of that (“self censorship” by private companies before the government gets to you).

  18. If you are planning to shoot anyone or threaten to shoot anyone, use a real gun from a reputable manufacturer. A 3D gun is suitable for fun and fondling, and perhaps execution style killings of the unarmed and prone, but use it for anything else and it could get you killed by a better prepared adversary. (ie one who’s got something more serious than a 3D gun.)

    1. Depends what you are 3D printing, for example an AR-15 with a 3D printed receiver can be just as good as any polymer receiver from a reputable manufacturer.

  19. I can’t believe Menendez is still a senator.

  20. People who read instead of twit find out about the “most valuable dog” described by George Orwell. With no threat, no cracking the whip, this dog needs only a vague suggestion from the Inner Party to run and jump through hoops, then spend the rest of the time currishly fawning in the lap of powerful interests.

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