As social media sites like Twitter increasingly dominate public discourse, there are occasional reminders that these digital platforms are private companies, not public utilities. Twitter can pick and choose who uses its services, fair or not. "Empower Texas" may be getting a sour taste of this reality.
Redstate.com is reporting that Twitter has booted the influential state level conservative group "Empower Texans" from all of its services. And as the group states on its website here, Twitter did not just suspend the main group feed -- it took offline the tweeting capability of every individual member in the group as well.
Before anyone goes too far, there are many possibilities other than a politicized decision about the tweets and tweet-nots. The Twitter service takes accounts offline for a variety of reasons. Here is a section of Twitter's terms of service:
The Services that Twitter provides are always evolving and the form and nature of the Services that Twitter provides may change from time to time without prior notice to you. In addition, Twitter may stop (permanently or temporarily) providing the Services (or any features within the Services) to you or to users generally and may not be able to provide you with prior notice.
But Empower Texans appears aware of the Twitter terms, stating this on its main page:
"Individual Twitter accounts are suspended everyday for a litany of reasons only to be reinstated after a quick review. The fact that an organizational feed, along with the personal accounts of all those associated with the organization, were suspended at the same time is odd and raises concern. Even more so that they were suspended with no notice or warning."
Empower Texans claims it is unaware of any violation of Twitter's terms of service, and received no advance warning about the service suspension. The group also raises the possibility that the suspension is the result of some kind of prank -- or perhaps a concerted campaign by other users to mark its tweets as "spam."
So, until Twitter publicly comments on the suspension, or Empower Texans is back online tweeting away, it remains to be seen why a group that is an important conservative voice in Texas has had one of its communication outlets hobbled.
Empower Texans is still going strong on Facebook though-- it has over 18,700 friends.