Last night the notably profane account @Real_Kaplan, the flagship of a family of parody accounts based on allegedly "cranky" Peter Kaplan, editorial director of Fairchild Publications and former editor of The New York Observer, was warned by Twitter of a possible suspension for swearing at another user.
To "reKap" (heh heh): 18 hours ago, I received an email from Twitter, informing me my account was in jeopardy, because one guy complained.— Real Kaplan (@real_kaplan) August 1, 2013
Here's what happened, according to a source who is incredibly close to the @Real_Kaplan: The other day, the account made some "admittedly dumb or corny" jokes (those are our source's words) about an Anthony Weiner press conference. One tweeter didn't find the jokes too funny calling @Real_Kaplan a "dad," which led @Real_Kaplan to say some pretty profane things — as he usually does:
Hey everyone your dad is on twitter @real_kaplan— speed boat captain (@yayforcolin) July 23, 2013
That, as any followers of the account likely know, put @YayforColin right in the sites of more jokes. "Every once in a while for a while there I would do the Boo for Colin bit, without mentioning his Twitter name, for the 2 or 3 people who might think it was funny. And things like 'Colin stinks.'"
As with much of the insult-comic routines on @real_kaplan, @YayforColin only made things worse for himself by taking it all quite seriously.
I made one joke about a person making "dad" style jokes and he chose to devote a lot of time to hating me— speed boat captain (@yayforcolin) July 24, 2013
He reported the fake Kaplan account to Twitter, which resulted in the following email from Twitter to @real_kaplan, which specifically cites harassment:
Heading over to the Twitter rules, however, it's unclear how @real_kaplan's mean tweets violate anything. There's nothing that specifically mentions harassment in the rules.
And here's what Twitter has to say about abuse: "Technical abuse and user abuse is not tolerated on Twitter.com, and will result in permanent suspension. Any accounts engaging in the activities specified below are subject to permanent suspension." The "activities specified below" involve spamming, squatting and porn, none of which @real_kaplan did in this situation.
For more clarification on the specific meaning of abuse, Twitter points us to a separate section on abusive behavior, which says the following: "Users are allowed to post content, including potentially inflammatory content, provided they do not violate the Twitter Terms of Service and Rules. Twitter does not screen content and we do not remove potentially offensive content unless such content is a violation of our Terms of Service." The Terms of Service directs readers back to the rules, and again, the rules don't say anything about swearing or even harassment.
Twitter does have a section on how to deal with bullying, which suggests users block the offending account and ignore tweets. It only recommends filing a complaint as a last resort.
After reviewing our policies, if you believe an offending account is violating our rules, file a report
Twitter only removes profiles that are in violation of the Twitter Rules and Terms of Service. Please remember that Twitter is a communications platform rather than a content provider, we do not mediate disputes between users.
The rules don't suggest @real_kaplan, as gruff has he is, violated any rules. And this certainly sounds more like a "dispute" than actual harassment. So rest assured #keepthekap crusaders, it doesn't look like @real_kaplan will be going anywhere.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.