The Twitter Suspension of Wings Over Scotland

Scottish Twitter exploded into action this morning as news spread that the @WingsScotland account had been suspended by Twitter Support. Before 7 o’clock this morning Stuart Campbell tweeted from his personal account that his “other Twitter account appears to have been banned.” The reason he was given for this action was that he had called the Daily Express journalist Siobhan McFadyen an “utter disgrace.” This comes after McFadyen grossly misrepresented the situation here on the ground in Scotland during and after the 2014 independence referendum. In an article published in the Express two days ago she wrote of the fear of “widespread outbreaks of violence,” saying that “at the height of the campaign there was [sic] violent outbreaks, death threats and ugly scenes all over Scotland as campaigns gathered on both sides of the debate.”

Both during and after the September 2014 referendum the people of Scotland were commended around the world – by media outlets and politicians – for the good natured spirit in which we conducted the debate and the referendum. A number of minor incidents were reported to Police Scotland, but nothing out of the ordinary. In fact the incidence rate of violent crime fell in the country as a result of the electrifying atmosphere of the Yes Scotland campaign. McFadyen, by telling bare faced lies, is attempting to present Scotland to her readers south of the border as a nation that the Scottish National Party has dragged into 1970s and 80s Northern Ireland style civil disorder and mayhem, and – yes – this is disgraceful journalism.

Unable to take the heat from the Twitter storm that broke over her article in Scotland, McFadyen then had a full-blown meltdown live on Twitter – threatening her online critics with everyone from the New York Times to the London Metropolitan Police. It was in the context of this Twitter war that Wings Over Scotland described her as a disgrace. Naturally, while no doubt hiding inside her sixth bottle of red, she informed the Twitter Support team that she was being abused and bullied, and Twitter proceeded to suspend the Wings account.

This is an intolerable act of political policing by Twitter and the Butterfly Rebellion is calling on the people at Twitter HQ to lift this ban with immediate effect. The suspension is still ongoing.

It must be remembered that Twitter, to be fair, is external to Scotland’s politics and therefore cannot take all of the blame for what has happened. At best Twitter has acted rashly, thinking that this was the result of online bullying. At worst it might indicate some level of collusion between Twitter and the British unionist media and political machine working to silence Scotland’s independent media. This, however, is mere conjecture – though not completely beyond the realms of possibility. Still, let’s keep the tinfoil hats off for the moment. Keep the heid and #FreeWings.

Wings Over Scotland has been a controversial account, and not everyone in the independence movement is in love with its founder Stuart Campbell. Not more than ten minutes after Campbell informed his Twitter followers of the ban Bartin Dembele 5:1 (@Bart1nMain) tweeted that he was not upset with the ban as “the guy” – Campbell – was “an utter embarrassment to the independence movement.” We couldn’t disagree more with this assessment. Wings has been an invaluable source of relevant information in Scotland, especially at a time when the only media we had was hostile and unionist (yes, that is a tautology).

Regardless of this, this ban is the result of a concerted effort on the part of the unionist mainstream media to silence all forms of political dissent in Scotland. We are in the thick of a media war and the truth of the matter is that we are still not winning. Shutting Wings up is an insult to democracy and the freedom of speech, and must now serve as a reminder to us all that anyone of us can be silenced if we are deemed to be too much of a threat to the status quo.

Defending Wings Over Scotland is standing up for the freedom of the press in Scotland, and we all have an obligation – a duty – to fight for this ban to be lifted. So far petty division has been the hallmark of unionist politics, and we have seen what that has brought Labour and the Tories to. This is something that we certainly do not need in the Scottish independence movement.

CALL TO ACTION: Please tweet (repeatedly) @Twitter and @Support with the hashtag #FreeWings asking that the suspension of the @WingsScotland account be ended. This is a political blog and a media outlet essential to the healthy running of Scotland’s democracy. Contact journalists and politicians you are connected with asking them to do the same. Let your contacts on social media know what is happening and enlist their support. Thank you.

The Butterfly Rebellion
Glasgow, Scotland

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