How Satan Was Disappeared From Twitter

The deamplification of a popular parody account shows the platform’s inconsistent — and often unexplained — rules

Will Oremus


Photo by Paul Bulai on Unsplash

The notification on my phone was waiting for me when I woke up: “Satan has sent you a direct message on Twitter.”

This being 2019 and Twitter being Twitter, I wasn’t particularly surprised or alarmed. I figured it was probably spam — and not an actual missive from the Dark Lord — but I tapped to view the message just in case.

It seemed the Father of Lies was having some trouble with his Twitter account. He’d stumbled across a relevant story I’d written a while back, and wondered if I could help him out somehow. He complained that his account was being affected by a change Twitter made last year to automatically hide certain accounts in replies and search results.

I typically respond to this kind of inquiry by politely clarifying that my job is to report on people’s tech problems, not solve them, and that’s just what I told the Prince of Darkness. But Satan — Twitter handle @s8n, tagline “not evil just misunderstood” — responded so politely and dejectedly that I began to feel a bit of sympathy for the devil. After a bit of idle chitchat, I asked him what exactly made him think he was being unfairly targeted by…