This weekend rapper Kanye West, who has a long history of often saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, had his Twitter account locked for posting a now-deleted anti-Semitic tweet that came after the singer had his Instagram account restricted.
West, who now goes by the name “Ye,” had posted on Twitter he was “going death con 3 [sic] On JEWISH PEOPLE” – apparently confused over the spelling of the military term “DEFCON” – while adding, “The funny thing is I actually can’t be Anti Semitic because black people are actually Jew also You guys have toyed with me and tried to black ball anyone whoever opposes your agenda.”
Twitter had confirmed to CNN on Monday that West’s account was locked for violating Twitter’s policies. The tweet has since been replaced on the account by a message from the company stating, “This tweet violated the Twitter Rules.”
West has been almost uncharacteristically silent on the matter.
In “Good Company”
West is certainly not the first celebrity to face a Twitter ban – and by most accounts, it would seem that Courtney Love, who had been sued for tweets made in 2009, may have the dubious distinction of being the first A-lister to face a suspension. She was banned in January 2011 but was subsequently allowed to create a new account.
Rapper Azealia Banks, political activist Milo Yiannopoulos, alt-right radio show host Alex Jones, and former President Donald Trump are also just a few celebrities who have faced a ban from Twitter.
Yet, it appears that if the sale of the platform to Elon Musk goes through, there is a chance the service may be far less restrictive in what it allows to be posted. Musk, who sees himself as a free-speech absolutist, could transform Twitter and loosen the rules considerably.
Should that be the case, West/Ye could become one of the last celebrities – even the final celebrity – to face such a ban or other time out.
“It is entirely plausible,” said brand media consultant and social media pundit Scott Steinberg. “Musk has also often said things that are lightning rods for controversy.”
In fact, in just the past week, Musk offered his personal opinions via Twitter on how the war in Ukraine could be resolved and also suggested that Taiwan reunify with mainland China under certain conditions. Though both suggestions received mixed reactions, the comments were far from some of the outrageous statements made on the platform.
With Musk in charge, it could get even more extreme.
“Celebrities could have an open mic, no matter how left of center or far-fetched their statements may be,” warned Steinberg.
Timeouts Are Necessary
In many ways, a “timeout” via a suspension can be used as a necessary kill switch with controversial conversations, suggested Steinberg.
“A number of public figures could benefit from such a timeout,” he explained. “We have to understand that words have meaning. Even as free speech should be celebrated, there are a lot of things where the less said is for the best. We should be forced to walk in someone else’s shoes before we make statements that can so easily offend others.”