UPDATE: Twitter Continues Suspension of Watchdog Placard Abuse Account

An image similar to this apparently got @placardabuse suspended by Twitter.
An image similar to this apparently got @placardabuse suspended by Twitter.

No one is watching the detectives.

Twitter has suspended the watchdog account @placardabuse — which has been instrumental in documenting hundreds of instances of illegal and dangerous parking by real and fake placard holders — after an apparent complaint by one of the members of the so-called placard class.

It all started on Sunday when the keepers of the whistleblowing account discovered that they could not post their latest instance of parking corruption. Further investigation revealed that Twitter had suspended the account and removed one post in a thread dating back to September, 2018, about illegal parking on W. 55th Street — a well-known car-storage strip where cop-adjacent drivers avoid tickets by leaving officers’ business cards, PBA cards, or even traffic ticket books on their dashboards.

This is the tweet and the photo that has been removed, though a similar photo remains live on the site.
This is the tweet and the photo that has been removed, though a similar photo remains live on the site.

The watchdogs at @placardabuse argue that the tweet simply does not violate Twitter’s “rules and policies.”

“A publicly displayed NYPD business card used for illicit purposes shouldn’t result in us getting suspended,” the group said.

It seems that Twitter agrees. Late on Sunday, the website told Streetsblog that @placardabuse had been “reinstated,” but as of Monday morning, the account says it is still not able to post. [Streetsblog will be monitoring the situation.]

A reinstatement makes sense, given that one of the tweets in the supposedly offending thread had remained live on Twitter, even though it featured basically the same photo of the tweet that apparently got the account suspended: a tableau of placard abuse that included what appears to be a courtesy badge from the Detectives’ Endowment Association, a union; a business card for “field intelligence officer” Det. Kai Estwick, and “courtesy” cards from the Detectives’ Endowment Association and its rank-and-file counterpart, the Police Benevolent Association.

“If @NYPDMTN were monitoring the situation on W. 55th Street and issuing summonses when applicable, Kal Estwick’s buddy would not have been parked in the No Standing zone again yeterday [sic],” that tweet reads.

Given that only Estwick is identified in the lone tweet that was deleted by Twitter, the moderators of @placardabuse were convinced that he issued the complaint as a violation of Twitter rules, which state that users “may not publish or post other people’s private information without their express authorization and permission.”

But it’s hard to imagine Twitter considers a business card “private information” if it is left on the dashboard of a car parked illegally. Indeed, Twitter rules also state that images like those in the offending tweet can be posted on Twitter “if the information was shared somewhere else before it was shared on Twitter.”

“We may not treat this information as private, as the owner has made it publicly available,” Twitter said on its rules page. (The company added little except to falsely say @placardabuse had been reinstated. The NYPD had no comment. Estwick did not return an email seeking comment.)

The keepers of the three-and-a-half-year-old placard abuse account — who remain anonymous because they have been threatened previously by the NYPD — called the complaint “bogus” and “an effort to suppress documentation of wrongdoing.”

“We wonder if they had to produce some kind of NYPD document to Twitter to convince them that the information that we posted, which was publicly displayed, was somehow too sensitive to be posted online,” the account keepers said in a statement to Streetsblog. “We have asked the Internal Affairs Bureau and the Conflicts of Interest Board to investigate if anybody misused their position in an effort to suppress Constitutionally protected speech in an effort to avoid accountability.”

The temporary suspension means that @placardabuse cannot document illegal and dangerous parking by NYPD, FDNY, court officers, Department of Investigation officers and so many others who leave their cars wherever they want, all thanks to a thin piece of plastic — so many of which are fabrications.

“A lengthy suspension on Twitter would temporarily relieve the placard class from scrutiny and may result in violations by some placard perps not being documented,” @placardabuse said just before the account was reinstated. “But this attempt to suppress information about wrongdoing will not discourage our efforts to end to placard corruption.”