Radical left-wing group tweets about vandalizing SUVs in wealthy areas, and Twitter refuses to remove posts

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VANCOUVER, CANADA – A radical collective of climate activists blames SUVs for contributing to carbon emissions so the group has a global call to action that involves deflating the tires of large vehicles that are in wealthy areas.

Adbusters, which is based in Canada and describes itself on Twitter as a global network of activists, writers, artists, designers, hackers, tricksters, poets, philosophers and punks, is promoting “The SUV Flat Tire Challenge” as a way to tackle climate change.

The “challenge” involves deflating tires on SUVs in affluent communities by wedging gravel into the valves so that the air leaks out.

The tires of private jet planes appear to be off limits.

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“Adbusters” does not consider the safety issues involved with their call to vandalize a victim’s vehicle.

On April 6, Adbusters tweeted the following thread, which included step-by-step instructions for activists to follow:

“Time to do something about SUVs.

“They’re the 2nd-largest contributor to the increase in global CO2 emissions since 2010, more than aviation.

“This is a gentle escalation of methods to drive the urgency of this climate crisis home and engender a systemic aversion to SUVs.

“So here’s what we do: Wedge gravel in the tire valves, leaflet the SUV to let them know the tires are flat and why it was done, and walk away.

“It’s that simple. If we organize, we can hit enough SUVs in particular neighborhoods to spark reporting and spread the metameme.

“We do this neighbourhood-at-a-time to make the biggest splash. Organize a crew (off of any traceable apps) and make leaflets that lay out the case for climate action.

“The mission is not to win individual converts at this point, but to engender a systemic aversion to SUVs.

“Climate change is the biggest crisis we’ve faced as a species, and we are failing the test at every step.

“It is time for us to carefully escalate our methods in a non-violent manner and convey the seriousness of this crisis in tangible ways.

“A flat tire is non-violent. There is no property damage. But it is a huge pain in the ass.

“We’ve seen this method succeed in Sweden, and have initial success in the UK with @T_Extinguishers (articles warning off SUV purchases at risk of being targeted). Time to go global.

“Targeting SUVs is good way to hit the automotive industry where it hurts. SUV sales are playing a massive role in the expansion of the auto industry, both as a percentage of global market share and in total numbers.

“And that increase is setting the climate back massively.

“Start by targeting wealthy areas—our goal isn’t to disrupt workers—and avoid targeting vehicles with disabled stickers or hangers.

“To quote Malm, ‘If we cannot even get rid of the most preposterously unnecessary emissions, how are we going to begin moving towards zero?’”

Twitter has not removed Adbuster’s tweets as of this writing despite its terms of service warning against engaging in targeted harassment of others or inciting other people to do so.

Under the heading “abusive behavior,” Twitter notes in its “help center”:

“You may not engage in the targeted harassment of someone, or incite other people to do so. We consider abusive behavior an attempt to harass, intimidate, or silence someone else’s voice.”

Twitter then gives its rationale for its rule:

“On Twitter, you should feel safe expressing your unique point of view. We believe in freedom of expression and open dialogue, but that means little as an underlying philosophy if voices are silenced because people are afraid to speak up. 

“In order to facilitate healthy dialogue on the platform, and empower individuals to express diverse opinions and beliefs, we prohibit behavior that harasses or intimidates, or is otherwise intended to shame or degrade others. In addition to posing risks to people’s safety, abusive behavior may also lead to physical and emotional hardship for those affected. 

“Learn more about our approach to policy development and our enforcement philosophy.”

Twitter then suggests there is flexibility built into the rule under its “when this applies” section. The same section makes no mention of a person’s socioeconomic status as a potential target for abuse:

“Some Tweets may seem to be abusive when viewed in isolation, but may not be when viewed in the context of a larger conversation. When we review this type of content, it may not be clear whether it is intended to harass an individual, or if it is part of a consensual conversation.

“To help our teams understand the context of a conversation, we may need to hear directly from the person being targeted, to ensure that we have the information needed prior to taking any enforcement action.

“We will review and take action against reports of accounts targeting an individual or group of people with any of the following behavior within Tweets or Direct Messages.

“For accounts engaging in abusive behavior on their profile, please refer to our abusive profile policy.

“For behavior targeting people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease, this may be in violation of our hateful conduct policy.”

Under the heading “encouraging or calling for others to harass an individual or group of people,” Twitter states:

“We prohibit behavior that encourages others to harass or target specific individuals or groups with abusive behavior. This includes, but is not limited to; calls to target people with abuse or harassment online and behavior that urges offline action such as physical harassment.” 

Adbusters notes in its online manifesto:

“Join us as we take down Big Tech. Clean up the toxic areas of our mental environment.

“Reverse the upward flow of wealth. Punish every corporation that betrays the public trust. Hold corrupt politicians accountable. Wake up a thoughtless, complacent culture.

“Fight the psychological takeover of the all-seeing advertising–surveillance industry. Quit following and retweeting . . . start thinking, speaking and acting for ourselves.

“Our aim is to catalyze a sudden unexpected moment of truth, a stunning reversal of perspective — a global mind shift — from which the corpo-consumerist forces never fully recover.

“Join us . . . and fuck up every system that keeps you from living your dreams.”

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