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Social media mischief-making? - Twitter suspends then reinstates Minister Farrakhan’s account

By J.S. Adams, Contributing Writer | Last updated: Jan 22, 2020 - 12:32:36 PM

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In the latest move against the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s Twitter account, the social media giant took several steps over a recent weekend, leaving supporters of the Muslim leader wondering about the company’s motives.

On Jan. 17, the Minister’s Twitter account displayed a message notifying users his account was suspended. None of the tweets from the account were visible. The next day, during the afternoon of Jan. 18 the platform reinstated it claiming the suspension was an error. According to the Washington Examiner, a Twitter representative said, “the account was caught by our spam filter in error and has been reinstated.”

The publication also reported that upon reinstatement, the account didn’t immediately show all of the Minister’s nearly 400,000 followers. The page only became available again to some users when it was first reinstated.

This comes several months after the account was frozen in June 2019, due to a tweet posted in October 2018 which Twitter claimed this post violated its policies.

However, Jesse Muhammad, Min. Farrakhan’s social media manager, says otherwise. “It’s that same tweet that during October 2018, that [Twitter] stated, publicly, did not violate their policies,” he told The Final Call. When the account was frozen, previous tweets were still visible on the page, but no new tweets were permitted to be added to the account.

Twitter notified Mr. Muhammad of the change via email, citing two tweets from October and June 2018. In order to unlock the account, Twitter says those tweets must be deleted.

Prior to this latest move, efforts to silence Min. Farrakhan on social media and other online platforms dates back to June 8, 2018 when Twitter first de-verified his Twitter account (@LouisFarrakhan) by removing his blue verification badge which lets people know among other things that “an account of public interest is authentic.” In May 2019 Facebook, which also owns Instagram banned Min. Farrakhan’s accounts along with right-wing pundits and Alex Jones of InfoWars.

Supporters and allies of the Minister, proponents of free speech and freedom of expression and people of various backgrounds and ideologies responded en masse to the move by Facebook in condemnation of the action. The last Twitter move also garnered quick condemnation.

“No matter how good of intentions [executives] may have with policies they have implemented, it has been glaringly hypocritical when it has been applied to Minister Farrakhan’s account,” Mr. Muhammad stated. “So whatever their definition of violating rules, hate speech, violations dealing with hateful conduct, they themselves have not been clear on what these types of things actually mean when they apply it to people, particularly Minister Farrakhan, who we feel, and know, and confidently can say, has never violated any of their rules.”

Previously, Mr. Muhammad told The Final Call that to delete the post would send a signal that those against the Minister were correct in their “lie” that the tweet was hate speech and anti-Semitic.

Vicky Dillard, social media and online commentator
Vicky Dillard, a social media and online commentator said this situation reminds her of when she used to watch the Minister on national talk shows.

“I remember seeing clips of him on the Donahue Show and other mainstream White media corporate outlets, and they couldn’t stop his power no matter how much they tried to defame him,” Ms. Dillard said. “So, they just stopped bringing him on altogether, but he continues to grow in power. So now, without any real major effort, he became such a powerful force, even on social media. It’s the same thing of trying to silence a man that you can’t silence,” she said.

Ben X, a member of the Nation of Islam and online content creator, said the latest fiasco proves Min. Farrakhan is who he says he is.

“My whole stance is the same as the Minister’s when it comes to Facebook and Instagram,” he said. “He already said that free speech is not real… He said when America or a world is built up on falsehood … It’s truth that will bring down America. The fact that they deleted his Facebook, Instagram, they terminated my YouTube and now they’re messing with his Twitter, it’s just confirmation that he is who he says he is and that he’s teaching the truth,” said the young influencer.

Other supporters of Min. Farrakhan took to social media and expressed their discontent with the situation. Dr. Boyce Watkins, noted financial expert and owner of The Black Business School, reposted a screenshot of Jesse Muhammad’s tweet updating his followers on the status of the Minister’s account. Twitter user @19Keys posted “Fear of the truth. Those who control these platforms will allow you to be subjected to lies, death, porn, propaganda etc. But truth is too powerful to allow.” User @QueenNzinga13 posted a screenshot of the Minister’s account reinstated, tweeting “That’s what I THOUGHT.”

“They banned The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan from Facebook and Twitter why, knowing that he is the only uncompromising voice for the upliftment of black people, why, what do they fear? What do they know about him that some of us are oblivious to?” Jason X Turner posted on Facebook.

“No Freedom of speech. They simply don’t want the Minister to positively influence his people. Meanwhile we are bombarded with; sexual explicit post, post of folks attacking each other, post of folks calling black people n!&&ers and all kinds of profanity. Twitter is unfair,” tweeted @ProblemNumber31.

“Stupid move, Facebook. Stupid move, Twitter. No Army can withstand the strength of an idea whose time has come,” Henrietta Bibbs wrote on Facebook.

Jesse Muhammad said Min. Farrakhan has used Twitter to uplift the masses. “Since 2011, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has used his platform with respect, he’s used it with dignity, he’s used it to uplift not just Black people, and Black users of their platform, but all people of humanity,” he said. The Minister has answered the questions of over 5,000 people from around the world on the platform, he added.

“This man has been a thorough representation of how we should properly use social media for the upliftment of humanity,” Mr. Muhammad said.

There are many on social media who depend on Min. Farrakhan’s tweets for guidance and knowledge. “I am a teenager now, but I have been around people in the Nation of Islam ever since I was a little boy,” said Karriem Armstead, 16.

“When I turned 11 years old I really started listening to Minister Farrakhan and his words have influenced me to become a pretty good young man. I feel that he is a very good example of what a righteous man is. I strongly believe that if other teenagers would follow his leadership we would do better,” he said.

Tiffany Haywood agreed. Through social media, the Minister can connect with diverse groups of people, she explained. “His message is not just for the Nation but provides profound wisdom and guidance on the way forward and how to transition to a lifestyle of peace,” she said.

“There is a need for the Minister on social media also because his messages are timeless and can be applied to the times we are facing,” added Ms. Haywood.

“They don’t like what he has to say,” said Father Michael Pfleger about Min. Farrakhan. Father Pfleger is pastor of St. Sabina Church in Chicago and is a longtime friend of the Minister. “They’re afraid of people being educated and hearing the truth that he speaks. They’re afraid of him. They’ve always been afraid of the truth, so this doesn’t surprise me,” he told The Final Call.

He stated that Twitter released the suspension after the backlash Facebook received banning Min. Farrakhan’s account in May.

“I think they released the suspension because they heard a lot of anger from people, going back to the whole Facebook suspension. I think they realized there was a real outcry with people saying, ‘don’t you dictate to us what we can and cannot receive,’” said Father Pfleger.

The White Catholic priest was one of the faith leaders to stand up and strongly condemn the Facebook decision. He subsequently invited his longtime companion in the fight for freedom and truth to address the ban from the pulpit of his church at a May 9 community event and rally in a show of support which drew a standing room only crowd.

Hashtags #WeAreFarrakhan, #IAmFarrakhan and #Farrakhan became popular within days of the Facebook and Instagram ban. Supporters began reposting the Minister’s content while condemning Facebook for their decision.

Ms. Dillard said this is a testament to why independent social media platforms are needed.

“You’re gonna always lose when your open enemy, the one who raped you, burned you, chopped off your body parts … When that’s the one controlling the narrative, and telling your story, you’re always going to be in trouble,” she said. “It’s a need for us to control our own narratives, control our own story and the connection between media and warfare.”

Father Pfleger agreed. “There must be and somehow we must create a social media that is controlled by the community,” he said.

“I think that’s why John Johnson started Ebony and Jet because he wanted the Black narrative to come from Black people, and he was tired of not reading the truth about the Black community. I think we still see that problem today.”

Jesse Muhammad says he will continue to watch how the situation plays out. But in the meantime, supporters of the Minister should keep doing the work, he stressed.

“This is the time, as the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan just told me a few days ago in a phone call—he said this is a great time for us to pick up our pace in the work of going after our people to invite them under this ark like Noah,” Mr. Muhammad said.

“Continue to hear the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan as the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad teaches us. Continue to spread the clips. Continue to spread all the screenshots of his tweets and posts that he has done. Continue to spread the warnings. Continue to spread his warnings of guidance and messages about Iran, America and war. Continue to post.”

(Tariqah Shakir-Muhammad, J.A. Salaam, Nisa Islam Muhammad and Final Call staff contributed to this report.)