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Twitter criticized for suspending popular LGBTQ academic @meakoopa

Twitter criticized for suspending popular LGBTQ academic @meakoopa

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Freelance writer and academic Anthony Oliveira, known by the Twitter handle @meakoopa, has been suspended from Twitter, prompting a backlash from followers who contrast the decision with what they see as Twitter’s continued failure to combat the rise of the violent alt-right and the prevalence of anti-LGTBQ hate speech on its platform.

The suspension appears to have occurred no more than a few hours ago, and was brought to wider attention by the popular account @skullmandible. His first tweet about the suspension has more than 200 retweets as of this writing, and a hashtag, #freemeakoopa, shows the issue bubbling up throughout Twitter’s LGBTQ and literary communities.

Update: Oliveira told The Verge in an email, “I have no idea what the ban is for... Twitter has provided no explanation whatsoever; I awoke to the account locked. No emails or DMs have been sent. I can see people replying to my @, however, and am very appreciative of their remarks.”

One of Oliveira’s supporters, who did not wish to be quoted by name, explained the situation that followers believe led to the @meakoopa suspension. They posit a theory that Oliveira was suspended for doxxing someone who was trolling him.

The supporter recalls a college student tweeting a photo of himself and his girlfriend with the hashtag #PrideMonth and a caption along the lines of “celebrating my heterosexuality.” That tweet was followed with taunts about how straight people don’t feel the need to “flaunt” their sexuality. Oliveira reportedly responded by quote-tweeting this post with “Many congratulations to you and your sister.” That led to an argument with the original poster, with Oliveira eventually using the real names of the poster and his girlfriend. The poster, according to the anonymous @meakoopa follower, deleted the original tweet and locked his account.

A second follower of @meakoopa told The Verge via Twitter DM that the original poster had included an Instagram link in his Twitter profile, which contained his real name: “The rumor with [@]meakoopa is that he used the real names of a straight couple he was making jokes about… And because it's technically against [Twitter’s terms of service] and [@]meakoopa has plenty of enemies on the right / alt-right, they could mass report and get him suspended.” Others have tweeted the same theory, but it’s important to emphasize that Twitter has not confirmed this as the inciting incident for the suspension.

Technically, this would be the same type of behavior that resulted in some of Twitter’s most public prior suspensions — a user with a large following identifying another user by name can be seen as encouraging harassment and abuse. Supporters have argued the intent is different, and that Oliveira is a vital voice on the platform.

According to Siddhant Adlakha, a critic at the film site Birth. Movies. Death, which recently published an essay on The Babadook Pride Month meme written by Oliveira, Twitter hasn’t provided Oliveira with any information about why he was suspended. (Oliveira confirmed when reached for comment.)

@TwitterOpen, an official Twitter account dedicated to the platform’s LGBTQ community, tweeted “Looking into it!” in response to one of the complaints.

Twitter cited, as it has historically, “privacy and security reasons” when declining to comment.

Update: Oliveira’s account has been restored.

Correction: A previous version of this article said that a tweet from @TwitterOpen had been deleted, but it has not.

Update June 13th 6:16 PM EST: Updated to include statement from Oliveira.

Update June 14th 12:18 PM EST: Updated to include Oliveira’s tweet.