Some remarkably unpleasant behaviour is presently being exhibited by the more zealous followers of Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his fellow saloon bar propper-uppers at UKIP. The blogger who posted the “Ten Great Reasons to Vote UKIP” found himself briefly the target of a Police investigation, backed up by a threatening Twitter message from a party supporter who knew the cops were visiting.
More worryingly, there have been concerted efforts to get critics of UKIP suspended from Twitter. This has been covered by A Liberal Life, but the thought occurred that Twitter does not just suspend users on the say-so of a number of frothers and ranters. So how do the UKIP faithful manage to get their way and burnish their libertarian credentials – by circumscribing free speech?
An account that has blocked me speaks ...
Ah well. Here the use of Twitter’s blocking facility enters. The use of this feature to dissuade those who respond merely for trolling is well known, but, it seems, its use as a means to get others suspended may not be. Added to this is the deliberate, and temporary, unblocking which allows the provocateur to tempt the target into replying. I will explain how this works.
... with the clear intention of provoking a response
After I had passed adverse comment on the UKIP supporters getting themselves in a stew over Charlie Bloom’s appearance in the audience of last Thursday’s Question Time, one UKIP supporter who had previously blocked me responded. He had to unblock my account to do this, so it was not an accidental act. Having passed comment, he then blocked me and waited for a response.
Voice of libertarian tolerance speaks
Sadly for the provocateur, response there was none, as I was wise to this tactic. Had I replied, he and his pals would have then been able to complain that I was mentioning an account that had blocked me – which is a potential suspension offence. That is what the UKIP gang mean when they talk about “block and report”: provoke an exchange, block the other party, then report them.
And encourages others to join in
Or, in my case, unblock the target, provoke an exchange, and continue as before. This extends to pursuing anyone who inconveniences the UKIP mob if they start another account, and, as can be seen with the response to Charlie Bloom, using the tactic to retaliate against anyone who has had the effrontery to criticise their beloved leader – with the clear intention of having them silenced.
Then goes after a little retribution
That this is jaw-dropping hypocrisy of the lowest kind clearly does not occur to such people: followers of a supposedly libertarian party who want to stamp out dissent by all means at their disposal. Sadly for them, this tactic is inevitably self-defeating, and, as knowledge spreads – don’t mention the accounts and check to see if they have blocked you before responding – they will not succeed.
Some UKIP fans may not like it when others speak freely. Tough. Deal with it.