Twitter’s Latvian-speaking censors shield abusive right-wing trolls

Juris Kaža
4 min readApr 8

I have been “permanently” banned from Twitter for one reason: those on the social media platform who oversee and censor tweets in the Latvian language are deliberately shielding racist, xenophobic and right-wing trolls.

Yes, I have used harsh language against my opponents, some of whom call black people “monkeys”, who compare immigrants to animals and who presume that all Muslims are murderous jihadists and should be deported to the last person from Europe. Add to that rabid haters of LGBT people. All of that has been fine with Twitter so far.

Image from the internet

What triggered them was a tweet in response to a pseudonymous identity called @Eriks_the_Great who dredged up a “prophecy” by Eižens Finks, a Latvian in the 1930s seen as a psychic, who said that strangers and those who have harmed Latvia (or something along those lines) would have to leave the country in the future.

@Eriks_the_Great repeatedly tweeted that I and several other people, including my fellow journalist Inga Spriņge of Re:Baltica (who actually lives mostly in Estonia) would have to leave. Since I have no special reason to leave Latvia voluntarily, I interpreted the repetition of this phrase — you have to leave — as implying that I should be forcibly deported. To which I replied in a tweet, that if I were forced to leave, I would like to fire a volley of warning shots at whoever was forcing me. However, if the forced deportation was followed by NATO troops overthrowing an authoritarian dictatorship, there should be no warning shots. That, it seems, is what did it — permanent suspension, several appeals rejected, no limited suspension (as a couple of years back for suggesting that the military junta in Myanmar should be killed by its own people, another “defense” of a dictatorship that was shooting people in the streets as I wrote it).

A selection of abusive tweets that had no repercussions

My tweet was not directed against any real person and the “threat” was conditional. It was not like “I will definitely kill XYZ”. Did the censors and Twitter punishers not understand the nuances of the Latvian language? Maybe not, as they neglected to notice a series of abusive tweets — translated from the Latvian.

Juris Kaža

A freelance journalist based in Riga, Latvia who has covered the country and region for 20 years. Speak native Latvian and English, fluent Swedish and German.