Did Twitter suspend US Olympic skier Aaron Blunck for praising China?
Take a look at the viral claim, and find out what’s really going on!
Claim : Twitter Suspended Aaron Blunck For Praising China!
Chinese netizens and Sinophiles are outraged about the news that Twitter suspended US Olympics skier Aaron Blunck after he praised China for their “stellar job with the whole COVID protocol”.
It was first covered by South China Morning Post (SCMP), and here is an excerpt from their article :
Three-time Olympian Aaron Blunck said he was suspended from Twitter after he and his US ski teammates praised China for its “stellar” operations at the Olympic Village.
“They have honestly done a stellar job with the whole Covid protocol,” the 25-year-old told reporters in the press room, before criticising biased coverage of the Games. “I didn’t really know what to expect, being stateside you’ve kind of heard some pretty bad media, and that is completely false – it’s actually been phenomenal.”
The 25-year-old said his Twitter account was then suspended, as he resorted to Instagram to protest the social platform’s unexplained decision, reposting a fan’s comment that read: “Aaron Blunck [is] out here telling the truth and getting punished by his own government.”
Blunck further shared a commentator’s tweet accusing the US government of being behind his account being shut down: “Twitter has executed the order of the Western ruling cabals … Punishment comes pretty fast.” Blunck tagged Twitter and asked: “what’d I do?”
Immediately, Chinese netizens (or bots?) and Sinophiles leaped onto the bandwagon, accusing the United States of censoring Aaron Blunck :
“Washington reviews all posts made about China and Russia.. freedom of speech? “
“Free speech in the United States has taken its knife to apolitical athletes. If China is good, ban it. If China is bad, give the green light. Shame!”
“US athlete Aaron Blunck praise the Beijing Olympics… saying it’s one of the best Olympics he’s been to. Everything negative you read in western media is fake news. His Twitter account was suspended immediate after. That’s fast!!”
“Team US athletes [sic] Aaron Blunck’s Twitter account got suspended after telling the truth about China at the press conference. Freedom of speech is dead in America!”
Truth : Twitter Did Not Suspend Aaron Blunck For Praising China!
This is so lame, I cannot believe I have to actually write about it, or that SCMP’s standards have dropped so low….
Fact #1 : Aaron Blunck’s Twitter Account Was Not Suspended For Long
I have no idea if the Account suspended screenshot is genuine, but assuming it was – the suspension didn’t last very long.
As early as 12:01 AM on 15 February 2022, Aaron Blunck’s Twitter account (@Aaron_Blunck) was active and not suspended, nor deleted.
In fact, his Twitter account gained about 600 new followers in the last day or so, up from 5,655 to over 6,200 after the story broke.
Fact #2 : Aaron Blunck Has Not Used Twitter Since July 2021
Aaron Blunck has not been active on Twitter, posting his last tweet on 3 July 2021.
He did not tweet anything during the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games, so why would Twitter suspend his account?
Is he suggesting that Twitter suspended his account for… not posting anything? Or that they saw his interview, and decided to punish him by suspending his inactive account?
Fact #3 : Aaron Blunck Was Suspended Earlier
According to the Wayback Machine archives, Aaron Blunck was suspended on Twitter earlier – approximately 5 September 2021 until 14 February 2022.
It is quite likely that his Twitter account was suspended back then, because it was hacked :
- His Twitter account was also hacked back in 2012.
- Before February 2018, he only tweeted about his snowboarding games.
- From February 2018 until May 2021, he didn’t post anything.
- But from May to June 2021, his account was spamming posts on bitcoin mining.
Obviously, the 2021-2022 suspension had nothing to do with the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
Fact #4 : Aaron Blunck Still Has Not Posted On Twitter
Even now that it is obvious to everyone (including himself) that his Twitter account is no longer suspended, Blunck has NOT posted anything, not even to address his earlier claim.
For someone who raged against Twitter on Instagram, it is peculiar how he continues NOT to post on Twitter, not even to castigate Twitter for his suspension.
Quite a few people have asked Blunck about his Twitter suspension, but he has also not responded.
Fact #5 : Aaron Blunck Press Conference Videos Are Still On Twitter
Despite claims of censorship, there are easily hundreds of posts and videos on the Aaron Blunck press conference on Twitter.
So it is obvious that Aaron Blunck’s temporary Twitter suspension had nothing to do with what he said at that press conference.
Unlike in China, where censors can and do wipe out all mention of “sensitive matters”, Twitter doesn’t seem at all bothered about what he said at that 2022 Beijing Olympics press conference.
Read more : Was CGTN caught faking the Peng Shuai email?
Fact #6 : There May Have Been A Glitch
According to a Twitter user @Grunge_Bob, he saw Aaron Blunck’s account go for suspended to reactivated with just 38 followers, before being restored to its proper condition “within minutes”.
There is no way to confirm if the temporary suspension was due to a glitch, but there is at least evidence of a glitch.
Fact #7 : Twitter Only Removes Content Based On Local Laws
Twitter can be compelled by individual countries to remove content that contravene local laws, but there is a due process, and the account holder is informed of the legal demand.
Twitter is also removing content that receive DMCA takedown requests by copyright owners… like the IOC and NBC, for example.
It is therefore absurd for anyone to claim that Aaron Blunck’s Twitter account was suspended by the United States government, without any evidence.
For all of its foibles, free speech is protected in the United States, by the First Amendment to the US Constitution.
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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.
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