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Punished for Being Fast? Twitter Lockouts When Least Expected

I have just (for the first time ever) received this message on two of my computers, which I am using to view activity on Twitter and post. I never automated anything. Ever. I post manually from the browser. Yes, the browser. Yet I’ve just got this:

Twitter lockout

I actually had to rely on someone else’s phone as I don’t have a phone myself (one of those ‘crazy’ people who value privacy). Why is Twitter resorting to that? Did they seriously think I was an abuse account? A new policy phased in? New thresholds?

Twitter is Trying to Drive Out Particular High-Profile Accounts, Based on Nothing Illegitimate That They Did

OVER the past 12 days Twitter has been on some sort of campaign against me, which I doubt is purely powered by algorithms, for reasons I explained here yesterday. I spoke to Wikileaks yesterday and they too said they had heard of similar things. I may be one of several accounts that are targeted, so it’s worth documenting everything. I should clarify that, to the best of my knowledge, I never violated Twitter’s ToS. This morning I got shadowbanned again, for absolutely no reason that I can think of, such as commenting on Wikileaks, being ‘rude’ to someone, critical of something, highlighting a tweet (mention), or posting ‘too’ much. Nothing. To make matters worse, the frequency of the bans is increasing. Over time it gets more frequent (the duration too had already increased prior to that, it’s always 24 hours long, not 6 or 12 hours long). It has escalated since 12 days ago, which means that my time outside the box, so to speak, is getting smaller and smaller (now it’s just a few hours before the subsequent shadowban). In my previous 2 articles on the topic I explained possible reasons for this, or rather, utterly poor reasons for any such actions by Twitter (I cannot even think or have a guess at reasons anymore). Here is what my tweets’ traffic has looked like over the past 12 days, corresponding or agreeing with the above trend (growing frequency of bans).

twitter-suppression

It’s incredible, isn’t it? Based on what I’ve seen online (relatively shallow research), I am far from alone. Here is one example that I stumbled upon (a high-profile account). This seems to be related to some of the latest Twitter policy changes, which are cryptic and rather offensive to all those who contributed — free of charge — a lot of so-called ‘content’ for Twitter to make money from.

Censored by Twitter for Mentioning Being Censored by Twitter

330px-Zeng_Liansong's_proposal_for_the_PRC_flag.svg

CENSORSHIP by Twitter has been getting absolutely ridiculous lately and I have devised methods to estimate the time (and thus cause) of shadowbans, as explained here last week. Twitter attempts to make shadowbans somewhat of an enigma; people are rarely aware of it and thus do not talk about it. If more people spoke about shadowbans, there would be anger and a lot of people would probably walk away. There seems to be a system of escalation with shadowbans, wherein the duration expands from 6 hours, to 12 hours, and now it’s always 24 hours in my case. It means people cannot see me in notifications, in search results, in hashtag pages, and cannot even see my replies to other tweets. That’s what shadowbans are and this is how they work; the visibility restrictions too seem to be escalating. Twitter is becoming more and more Draconian over time, and censorship is broadened using all sorts of pretexts, such as “hate speech”, “trolls”, “fake news” and so on (the excuse du jour).

The latest wave of shadowbans against me can be traced back to the following events:

  1. mentioning Vault 7 in response to Wikileaks tweets about Vault 7 upon the release of Vault 7 (definitely on topic, polite, and very highly ranked among the responses)
  2. being trolled by an Alt Reich troll and responding to that troll, the context being Wikileaks again.
  3. mentioning Menwith Hill, in an on-topic fashion, in response to a Wikileaks tweet about Deep State presence in Europe. The shadowban was applied very soon afterwards, which makes it seem like state secrets or something along those lines was the pretext/cause.
  4. mentioning censorship by Twitter, namely the above 3 shadowbans against me, in Twitter. Just say it to a large audience and see your tweet vanish from visibility.

Welcome to China!

In 10 days Twitter shadowbanned me for 96 hours (24 hours x 4), i.e. about half the time, for reasons that were not satisfactory unless one lives in China.

Welcome to Twitter. It’s like Facebook, just with shorter posts.

Twitter Stands for Censorship

Twitter is Censorship

YESTERDAY, after I had written a lot about Vault 7 and Wikileaks, Twitter shadow-banned me. The effect of it can be seen above. I did not insult anyone, I did not link to a dodgy Web site, I was very much on topic, and people showed genuine interest in what I was posting. But Twitter is not interested in free speech. Twitter is a business, so presumably it can just kick-ban, permanently terminate accounts, or even shadow-ban (as in my case) any time it feels like it. No explanations are made available and there’s no point bothering to ask (I tried many times).

A month ago Twitter also banned (for good) JoinDiaspora, a site through which I posted to Twitter. They banned the whole relay, in an act of collective punishment (or collective censorship) against many thousands of legitimate users.

Don’t ever rely on Twitter for free speech. Based on the recent news, things are only getting worse there over time (more restrictions on speech). This is why I call so-called “social media” just social control media. They conquer and dominate (even by omission/deletion) channels of communication between people.

When Mozilla Puts an Advertising Network at the Very Heart of Firefox

IT IS no secret that Mozilla has been planning to put ads inside Firefox. This is a very controversial decision, so Mozilla is apparently still experimenting with it, mostly promoting its own products and services. Today, however, I saw one of my ‘speed-dial’ buttons (linking to Twitter) spontaneously replaced with Mozilla ads, some of them “sponsored” and some proprietary software (like Pocket). I took screenshots to serve as proof of this and here are four examples.

firefox-ads

It might not be long before Firefox spies on the users, transmits user data to Mozilla, and then Mozilla sends targeted ads for whatever product/brand exists in the market and looks for clients. Mozilla would be utterly stupid to do such a thing, for the media (not just users) would definitely strike back. If Mozilla needs more sources of revenue, this shouldn’t be it. The negative publicity would induce greater losses than the temporary gains (from sales of advertisement slots).

Moving the Whole Neighbourhood Away From BT and BT Openreach Lines (Updated)

IT HAS been nearly four months since a serious REIN issue developed here in this neighbourhood. It took me over 20 hours on the phone before BT sent out an engineer (I wasn’t the only one complaining) and perhaps 40 hours on the phone (set aside other forms of correspondence, many visits from engineers, and the suffering from a poor connection for many months in a row) to send out the Precision Test Officer. Much of it was gradually chronicled in the following posts:

Dumping BT isn’t quite a solution because it’s the BT Openreach line that has an issue with it. It doesn’t matter if one moves to a different ISP, the cables stay the same. My neighbours who experience similar issues and complain about it are not even with BT as their ISP. So we need alternative cables, e.g. Virgin. A couple of days ago I responded to BT (see the latest in the third link above).

Virgin is now polling/asking (by post) the whole area if there’s enough demand for fiber-optic connection. I think that they already have some infrastructure in place, based on what the precision testing officer told me. BT Openreach wiring here cannot be trusted anymore, and there is no imminent remedy, not even hope of a fix.

If I get my way, we might be able to get new wiring from BT’s competition here. That will help resolve the issue for good, I hope, helping a lot of people…

And later on the connection got so bad that I escalated this to the highest BT managers with the following strongly-worded message:

We have just been disconnected SEVEN times in a 30-minute period. This is not acceptable and I cannot accept closure of this issue. If need be, I shall work to have alternative cables introduced in our neighbourhood and lobby all my neighbour (using letters) to dump BT for good, showing them how poorly the company has dealt with this issue that I first reported nearly 4 months ago. I have detailed documentation of this case, so facts are on my site. It took more than 3 months to merely send a precision testing officer out! http://schestowitz.com/Weblog/archives/2015/06/23/bt-rein/

Yesterday I spent half an hour with BT on the phone. We’re still trying get get alternative wiring/cabling (alternative to BT Openreach), whereupon we can finally leave.

Judging by some reactions that I received online, other people in England and even in Scotland had similar experiences with BT and only by dumping BT’s cables have these problems been ‘resolved’. This BT monopoly on the cables (BT Openreach) needs to end.

Update: BT Retail sent the following message.

Hi Mr Schestowitz,

I’d like to thank for your emails and time you have spent with me on the phone it was very much appreciated and I’d like to thank you for your patience with the issues you’ve faced.

The Future
I’ve closed your complaint as we discussed on the phone. If you have any other problems, please get in touch on [redacted] or [redacted] using PIN 1089. Or you can email my team at [redacted]

For anything else our Customer Services will be happy to help on 0800 800 150. Or why not take a look at our website www.bt.com. Alternatively for any issues with your BT services the Technical Helpdesk are available on 0800 111 4567 should you need them.

What we’ve done…
You reported you were facing issues with your Broadband in that it was intermittent, dropping connection multiple times per day. After multiple tests and engineers have been out heavy REIN interference was suspected. A REIN trained engineer and both a Precision Test Engineer have both surveyed the area but were unable to locate a source for the interference.

Currently legislation exists in the form of the Electromagnetic Compatibility Regulations (Statutory Instrument 2006 No.3418). It ensures that when new equipment is placed on the market in the UK it mustn’t cause interference to radio services and telecommunications networks. Conformance being indicated by the affixation of the CE mark.

Unfortunately in most REIN cases the source of the noise is not a device that is causing problems from new, but has degraded during its life such that it generates excessive noise in the order of 50dB (100,000 times) higher than when it was new, and met the EMC regulations and was CE marked. This excessive noise is usually due to components failing within the power supply, but unfortunately the equipment still appears to operate normally to the owner.

We’ve talked about such issues with BIS and Ofcom in the past and they all agree that there’s currently no legislation that we can use to stop this interference being caused. The EMC regulations are a market entry requirement to allow free movement of goods around Europe and hence only apply when equipment is first sold and so has no application to in-life issues that subsequently occur.

In most cases when such issues are bought to the attention of the owner of the faulty equipment they are co-operative and will take action to repair or replace the equipment causing the problems. However in a limited number of cases (like this one) that co-operation is not forthcoming and then there is currently nothing that BT or anyone can do. It is for these cases that new legislation is required. Ideally any new legislation should allow an enforcement authority to issue a suspension notice (something along the lines of Article 43 of SI2006: 3418) to the owner of the equipment that is causing the interference.

I hope this helps you understand our position better, and why this has been a lengthy process. As the engineers have confirmed that they are unable to locate the sources of the REIN in the area they’ve had no choice other than to close off their investigation and with this there are no further actions we can take.

I’d like to thank you for both your time on the phone and the understanding of the situation.

Monies…

Due to the issues you were facing and as we discussed I would like to credit you half of the Broadband cost for the 4 month you have been facing these problems. You will see a single credit on your next bill of £44.25. This is in full and final settlement of your complaint as we agreed.

Many Thanks

[redacted]
Executive Level Technical Complaints
BT Retail

Amazon Says I Need to Sue in Order to Merely Find Out Who Uses Their Own Facilities (AWS) to Attack My Site (Update)

AWS logo

OVER the past few days I spent a lot of time (never mind emotional impact) pressuring Amazon, having already spent a lot of time battling DDOS attacks which rendered my biggest site inaccessible. After much stonewalling (I had to repeat my request about 5 times only to receive useless replies or no replies at all) I got a message. It took a very long time and much strongly-worded nagging and I finally got a reply (after a day and a half of silence) saying that Amazon cannot “release any customer information upon request. You will need to provide a valid subpoena issued by a court of law” (i.e. start legal action).

So in layman’s terms, my site got attacked by Amazon servers which were rented out to an Amazon customer and when when I ask Amazon who is doing this (so that I can take action) they say they cannot tell me and that I must go to expensive lawyers to do so, wasting both time and money in a courtroom.

I have secured evidence of the attacks by now. Tomorrow I may visit some local attorneys, provided any of them might even know what DDOS means (British police certainly didn’t understand what I was talking about when I took my complaints to them).

Here is Amazon’s reply in full:

Hello Roy,

I apologize that you are not satisfied with the communication that you have been receiving. I’d also like to apologize that you were not told that our privacy policy does not permit us to release any customer information upon request. You will need to provide a valid subpoena issued by a court of law. I am sure that you understand that there are laws we need to follow and I would also like to thank you for reporting this as we take security very seriously.

Please forward the subpoena documentation to:

Amazon.com, Inc.
Corporation Service Company
300 Deschutes Way SW, Suite 304
Tumwater, WA 98501
Attn: Legal Department – Subpoena

The request should include the IP address(es) as well as an exact, accurate timestamp, including the timezone, associated with each address.

I apologize for any inconvenience caused by privacy laws. I can assure you that the matter is being dealt with by our specialized abuse team.

I hope that this is helpful.

Thank you for your inquiry. Did I solve your problem?

If yes, please click here:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/survey?p=A2O0DWEQD3E8HK&k=hy

If no, please click here:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/survey?p=A2O0DWEQD3E8HK&k=hn

Best regards,

[redacted]

http://aws.amazon.com

In short: Waste of money and time in order to find out who’s engaging in abuse, which is very much ridiculous. Amazon is just covering its own behind in case of lawsuits from the client over revelation of identity. Since the abusive servers are Amazon’s I suppose I can just start legal action against Amazon itself, both for DDOS and for refusal to respond to my questions regarding accountability.

My response to Amazon was as follows:

Unless Amazon is willing to settle, I am going to sue Amazon, not waste time and money sending a subpoena. The attacks on my site came, on numerous occasions, from servers owned and operated by Amazon.

Amazon, moreover, repeatedly stonewalled my requests to find out who is accountable, both inside Amazon and in its client/s, whom it is unwilling to unmask despite acknowledgement of abuse (AWS staff already confirmed this in writing).

Please provide me with the address to serve legal papers to, as I am going to sue Amazon for damages, misconducts, and waste of my time.

In the mean time, I shall continue to publicly shame Amazon for this abusive behaviour, in various social media sites and my own e.g. http://schestowitz.com/Weblog/archives/2015/06/28/aws-ddos/

Just because you rent out computing resources does not exempt you from accountability for how these are used.

Updated (29/7/2015): Amazon AWS has just replied to me. Almost ONE MONTH late. I think I know now who knocked the site offline. Bad publicly (online) probably caused this belated reaction from Amazon. To quote AWS:

Dear abuse reporter,

We sincerely apologize for the delay in addressing this abuse case. Our customer has confirmed that the party responsible for this traffic has modified their crawler appropriately. If you’d like to prevent them from crawling your site in future, you can add the following directive to your robots.txt file:

User-agent: revivebot
Disallow: /

If this problem recurs, please open a new abuse report with timestamped logs showing the unwanted traffic. We will make every effort to work with you and our customer to reach a solution.

Thank you for your patience and attention to this matter.

Regards,
AWS Abuse team

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Original styles created by Ian Main (all acknowledgements) • PHP scripts and styles later modified by Roy Schestowitz • Help yourself to a GPL'd copy
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