In a recent series of tweets and stories posted to their website, the satirical news site The Onion is claiming that they have been permanently banned from Twitter. Naturally, some wondered whether this ban was actually real, and were obviously skeptical given that The Onion specializes in satirical news. Of course, the fact that they tweeted that they had been banned probably should have been a giveaway.
Is The Onion banned from Twitter?
The Onion hasn't really been banned from Twitter, but their latest mini-campaign is an effective bit of satire that targets those who complain about censorship even as they retain a massive platform to distribute their ideas.
“The Onion has been banned from Twitter,” a tweet read on Thursday, April 21. They followed that tweet up with “The only way to get around The Onion’s Twitter ban is to go to our f---ing website.”
The joke here is clearly that plenty of users on Twitter and other platforms complain about censorship using the very tools that they claim are trying to censor them. It's a paradoxical argument, one that suggests platforms that are allowing their speech are in fact doing the opposite of that. As The Onion so often does, it's a very incisive joke that will certainly appeal to people who live large chunks of their life online.
Most Onion fans seem to be in on the joke.
Although some people may have been confused by The Onion's announced ban, most people seemed to be pretty clear on what the site was up to.
“@elonmusk when are you buying Twitter out so you can unban @TheOnion,” one person wrote.
"Stand strong, we are all with you! You just keep tweeting the truth until they reinstate you on Twitter!" another person added.
Elon Musk has made free speech part of his argument for purchasing Twitter.
As some users clearly picked up on, The Onion's decision to write some satirical news focused on censorship is particularly timely right now because of Elon Musk's desire to buy Twitter and take the company private.
As he's made clear, Elon's desire to buy Twitter comes in part from his belief that the company should be a haven of free speech, and should be less restrictive over what people say on the platform.
Of course, people get away with saying all sorts of things on Twitter. It's not as if the company is hugely censorious, but they have occasionally removed high profile users who spread misinformation or encourage violence among their followers. Donald Trump is the most high-profile example, but there have obviously been others.
As The Onion points out, though, most of the people who seem to be most worried about censorship have no problem finding an outlet in which to complain about those concerns. In systems where censorship is an actual problem, free expression of ideas becomes almost impossible. Twitter is not creating that world, although it is one that some clearly want to be in.