Conservatives reacted furiously Sunday night to news that Twitter had suspended one of their number, Chris Loesch, without explanation, Mr. Loesch is a music producer and the husband of Breitbart.com’s & CNN’s Dana Loesch, and prominent voices on the online right, led by Michelle Malkin, demanded his re-instatement.
The suspension was briefly lifted: At 9:13 p.m. Sunday, Ms. Loesch inquired publicly about her husband’s suspension, prompting a groundswell of conservative protest so intense that the hashtag #FreeChrisLoesch appeared on Twitter’s list of worldwide trending topics. Less than 90 minutes later, Mr. Loesch triumphantly announced his return. But Loesch’s account was again suspended later that evening.
The episode led some conservatives to suggest moving camp from the ostensibly neutral ground of Facebook and Twitter to social media services that are more explicitly on their side, an idea that Malkin fiercely rejected.
Just prior to Mr. Loesch’s suspension, both he and his wife engaged in an escalating war of words with Twitter users over a particularly vile tweet that a little-known freelance writer had directed at Ms. Loesch.
As twitchy.com reported, many conservatives speculated that Loesch’s liberal antagonists had falsely reported him to Twitter as a spam account, a frequent allegation in online partisan contretemps. Casting doubt on this thesis, conservative writer Brady Creemens wondered why such a campaign would target only Mr. Loesch and not Ms. Loesch, who has a higher profile by virtue of her on-air presence on CNN.
Twitter did not respond to inquiries regarding the suspension Sunday night, and searches of recent tweets did not uncover evidence of a coordinated campaign to report Mr. Loesch.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Ms. Malkin complained that YouTube had removed several anti-jihadist videos produced by Ms. Malkin’s team or like-minded bloggers. Privately-operated services like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube were at that time becoming important to the national political conversation; they have since become central to it. Facebook, Twitter and Google (which owns YouTube) possess the power to determine what political speech is and is not acceptable for their huge audiences. As their influence grows, questions linger about how fairly, and how transparently, these young companies wield their clout.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this item failed to report that Loesch had been suspended for a second time.