Gareth Ceidiog Hughes
The Barry Horns have been sent into permanent Twitter exile.
After being banished to the Twitter equivalent of Siberia a few times, the account of the very fine brass band and Welsh football superfans has been chucked out for what appears to be for good.
Its name is a play on that of Welsh football legend Barry Horne, and its music has become a special element of the atmosphere at our international matches. Its Twitter incarnation combined pride in Wales, with a fierce passion for fairness, and justice, with a not insubstantial amount of humour and cheek.
This earned it a cult following among the Welsh twitterati, of which I am a member, and which is now mourning its loss, as well as decrying the sheer unfairness.
The hashtag #freethebarryhorns has spread across Welsh Twitter like the wildest of wildfire.
Now I’m not going to defend everything that has been tweeted from the account. The language has been a tad fruity on occasion.
I have though seen the tweets that earned them their latest ban, and the idea that they were abusive or harmful is a little bit of a stretch to say the least. Whoever administered the ban evidently isn’t fluent in sarcasm for one thing, nor well-versed in common sense. It seems like a decision made by a robot, and come to think of it, could well be. It is arbitrary and heavy-handed.
Let’s also look at who remains on the social media platform to spew their bile. The venomous Katie Hopkins ‘media personality’ for example remains at large on the site.
Make no mistake. Twitter is soft when it comes to the far-right. It had developed an algorithm to detect and then to banish people who displayed far-right sympathies. It was similar to the mechanism to the one that they used to largely eradicate ISIS propaganda off the platform.
However, this idea was canned when it turned out that if they implemented it, they would have to ban an awful lot of Republican politicians in the US. They Bottled it. It is a cop-out.
Let’s face it; they would probably end up having to ban The Donald himself. The President of the United States of America is a white nationalist. You see, the powerful live by a different set of rules.
The idea that the Barry Horns should be banned while these accounts remain is laughable.
The Barry Horns punched up at the powerful. It went out to bat for the NHS. That’s what it was defending when it got banned this time. The likes of Trump and Hopkins punch down at minorities, with knuckledusters.
The Barry Horns did make a brief and glorious return to the twittersphere. The rebellion spread across the platform like the Glyndŵr uprising. I half expect them to go all Braveheart. They can take our Twitter accounts, but they can never take our freedom. It gained more than four thousand followers in just a few days. But like the Glyndŵr uprising it was quickly put down, and The Barry Horns were banished once more.
They have been a powerful advocate for the Welsh language, and used it to tweet during the rebellion. On the plus side, at least Twitter is paying attention to the Welsh language, even if the result is rather negative in this instance, because it means it was paying attention to The Barry Horns this time. Every cloud and all that.
Twitter should without a doubt reverse its absurd ban and #freethebarryhorns, and it should do more to tackle the far right to boot. The ban reveals something profoundly troubling about the way the platform is run, and a deep unfairness.
Thankfully The Barry Horns do remain large and in charge on Facebook. At least Zuckerberg and his Dumb and Dumber hair cut hasn’t got everything wrong. So, if you’re not already, do yourself a favour and give The Barry Horns a like on the platform.
They embody the new passion and energy that is emerging, not only in Welsh football, but in the Welsh nation as a whole. That cannot be extinguished by Twitter or anybody else. See you at the Euros.