Ed and Brian Krassenstein, the Florida brothers who became famous on Twitter for their outspoken opposition of President Trump, have been permanently banned from the social platform.
The Krassensteins were accused of creating fake Twitter accounts and purchasing automated “bots” that could share and “like” their tweets in order to boost their own profiles. They shared the official statement that Twitter sent out on their website, the Hill Reporter:
“The Twitter Rules to apply to everyone. Operating multiple fake accounts and purchasing account interactions are strictly prohibited. Engaging in these behaviors will result in permanent suspension from the service.”
Ed and Brian Krassenstein have denied the accusations. They wrote in an op-ed on May 24, 2019 “We NEVER, and we want to make this as clear as day, ever bought or sold ANY Twitter accounts or interactions. We swear on our graves that this is 100% true.”
The Krassenstein brothers had more than 1.6 million followers between them before Twitter banned them from the site.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Ed & Brian Krassenstein Began Tweeting About Donald Trump in Late 2016; The Brothers Say They Started Posting About the President Out of Sincere Concerns About the Administration
Ed and Brian Krassenstein have been tweeting about Donald Trump and his administration since late 2016. Many of their tweets have called for his impeachment and accused him of being corrupt. They often were seen responding to the president’s tweets. They are also credited with helping to promote the hashtag “Resistance” on social media.
Critics have accused the Krassenstein brothers of being “grifters,” meaning that they chose to focus on President Trump in order to earn money. They deny that this is the case, insisting that they have genuine concerns about the direction President Trump is taking the country. Ed Krassenstein wrote on his personal website in 2018, “I don’t oppose President Trump because he is a Republican. I oppose him because he is a bigot, narcissist, and in my opinion he only cares about what’s good for himself, rather than what’s good for our country. If he was a Democrat, I’d oppose him. If he was an Independent, I’d oppose him.”
Brian Krassenstein wrote on his own website in May of 2018 that the Trump presidency made him more interested in politics than he had been before. He wrote, “Personally I’m amazed that this man was able to ascend to the Presidency, while to me, it seems obvious he’s a crook.”
2. The Krassenstein Brothers Deny Paying For Bots & Have Asked Twitter to Review The Suspension
Twitter allows individual users to have more than one account, provided that the profiles are not deceptive. The site explains in its rules section: “You may not impersonate individuals, groups, or organizations in a manner that is intended to or does mislead, confuse, or deceive others. While you may maintain parody, fan, commentary, or newsfeed accounts, you may not do so if the intent of the account is to engage in spamming or abusive behavior.”
Ed and Brian Krassenstein stressed in their op-ed following their permanent suspension from Twitter that their accounts were not misleading. Their personal accounts included their names: @EdKrassen and @Krassenstein. They ran a separate Twitter page dedicated to their podcast @KrassenCast. They also operated two additional accounts called @kstein2020 & @FrankKern20, which the brothers say were set up to “track threatening tweets by others, targeted at us and/or our families.” The Krassensteins admit to previously running a Twitter profile with the username “Impeach Donald Trump” but say that it was deactivated “well prior to the suspension.”
The Krassenstein brothers deny that their accounts were ever manipulative. They reject the notion that they purchased bot followers that could help to boost their name recognition and have asked for Twitter to review the suspension.
The brothers also addressed the notion that conservative conspiracy theorist and Trump supporter Jacob Wohl had anything to do with the suspension. Wohl appeared to take credit for getting the Krassensteins banned from Twitter in a post on Instagram. But the brothers say there is scant evidence to prove Woh’s claim and wrote in their op-ed that Wohl “is known to try and take credit for any little thing he can.”
Wohl was himself banned from Twitter in February of 2019 for allegedly operating fake accounts. The Krassensteins say that Wohl actually called them about 30 minutes after they had learned they were being banned from Twitter and suggested that they “ban together” to fight censorship.
3. Federal Investigators Searched Ed & Brian Krassenstein’s Homes in 2016 After They Were Accused of Helping to Promote Scams Run By a Russian Crime Organization; The Brothers Were Never Charged With a Crime
Ed and Brian Krassenstein were surprised on September 20, 2016, when federal investigators arrived at their respective homes with search warrants. They explained on their website, the Independent Reporter, that Homeland Security agents and police officers seized their phones and other internet devices and did not initially explain what had prompted the unexpected search. Investigators later seized their homes, a rental property and their investments.
Over the next six months, the Krassenstein brothers tried to figure out whether anything they had done in their careers up to that point had been illegal. They said they had run about 80 different websites since college and had sold ads to more than 2,500 entities.
Federal investigators eventually explained that two of the Krassenstein brothers’ websites had included ads that turned out to be scams. A Russian crime organization was allegedly behind it. The Krassensteins were being investigated to determine if they had been active players in the financial fraud, which were described as ponzi schemes.
They were never charged with a crime, but were asked to testify against the suspects accused of running the crime organization. Ed and Brian Krassenstein refused to do this out of fear of retaliation, and settled their case with the federal government for about half a million dollars.
4. Ed & Brian Krassenstein Have Operated Dozens of Websites Since the Early 2000s
Ed and Brian Krassenstein shared on their news site, the Independent Reporter, that they have operated approximately 80 websites over the years. Their sites covered a wide range of topics including video games, finance, 3-d printing, and celebrity fan forums. In an interview with Vice in late 2018, embedded above, they explained that one of the most popular sites was a dedicated Justin Bieber fan club.
Ed Krassenstein explained on his personal website that he and Brian began building websites while they were still college students, before the days of social media. They found that by creating online forums, and encouraging online users to participate in conversations, they could sell advertisements. After graduating from college, he says they decided to “go full steam ahead and continue establishing and building up various discussion forums and other websites on the up-and-coming internet.”
5. Brian & Ed Krassenstein Are Both Married Fathers & Live in the Same Neighborhood in Fort Myers, Florida
Ed and Brian Krassenstein, 37, are twins and business partners who have never been apart. They both attended Rutgers University, majored in economics and graduated in 2004, according to their LinkedIn profiles.
They live down the street from each other in Fort Myers, Florida. Online records indicate that both of their homes are valued at more than $1.5 million each.
The Krassenstein brothers are both married with young children. Their wives were also pregnant at the same time in 2016.