A man who was suspended from Twitter for sending a sexual tweet to Tony the Tiger is speaking out about the move.
Twitter user Alex Boivin was suspended from Twitter for a week due to a response to a Tony the Tiger tweet that “violated” Twitter rules.
“I’d f— that tiger,” he wrote in response to a tweet where Tony the Tiger is seen looking at a bowl of Cinnamon Frosted Flakes. The account also goes on to complement how the cereal mascot looks. “That tiger on the box doesn’t look half bad either. #blushing,” it said.
— Tony the Tiger (@realtonytiger) August 7, 2017
Boivin told Buzzfeed News it took two weeks for his account to get suspended, which he found odd.
“There was about a two-week gap from the tweet to it getting suspended,” Boivin said. “Which seems weird because isn’t someone at the Kellogg’s social media team getting notifications of this? Or does the Twitter team just take that long to get to these things?”
Kellogg provided Buzzfeed with a statement in 2016 on its right to block individuals.
“As a company grounded in the values of integrity and respect, we recognize people’s right to creative expression,” a spokesperson said. “But we reserve the right to block individuals who post offensive content.”
Boivin said he didn’t think anything of the tweet. Rather, he said he hated promoted tweets (advertisements that show up on your timeline) and thought the response would be funny.
“Just the idea of sexualizing this corporate cereal mascot struck me as a suitably bizarre thing to share with the sort of people who like to interact with promoted tweets from multi-billion-dollar food processing conglomerates,” he said.
However, Boivin was unaware of the trend he was contributing to. The Tony the Tiger account has dealt with sexual harassment before, plenty of times in fact. Thanks in part to “Zootopia,” which featured some buff, dancing, anthropomorphic tigers like Tony, and a longstanding trend in furry culture, people started tweeting similar things at the Tony the Tiger account back in 2016. It got to the point where large amounts of Twitter users were getting blocked. It also resulted in this statement from the mascot himself.
I’m all for showing your stripes, feathers, etc. But let’s keep things gr-r-reat – & family-friendly if you could. Cubs could be watching ????
— Tony the Tiger (@realtonytiger) January 28, 2016
It also resulted in a thing between Tony and Chester the Cheetah (the mascot for Cheetos). It’s a long story.
Despite this history, the move doesn’t sit well with some, including Boivin, who look at the suspension as a symptom of a problem in Twitter’s reporting tool.
“America has this back-ass-wards Calvinist streak where calling for the expulsion and genocide of non-white races is just a difference of opinion,” Boivin continued. “But making a sex joke at a corporate mascot who paid money to advertise to you is cause for censure.”
Most lucid political thought I've read this week came from guy who got suspended from Twitter for sexually harassing a cartoon cereal mascot pic.twitter.com/cW7sISCOPO
— Tom Gara (@tomgara) August 24, 2017
Twitter has come under fire for letting people who say racist and sexist things, including making death threats, off the hook despite getting reported and suspending others.
— yung sweet lassi (@andnowtothemoon) August 23, 2017
Twitter, who does nothing about actual nazis, will suspend the accounts of people who sexualize Tony the Tiger. https://t.co/garRmnAOFU
— Tony Webster (@webster) August 24, 2017
Who will Twitter let you harass, based on evidence we've seen so far?
People of color? ✅
Queer folk? ✅
Tony the Tiger? ❌❌ https://t.co/Blh3j9okfP
— Julia ???? Alexander (@loudmouthjulia) August 23, 2017