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New Twitter Rules – Talk Softly and Say Nothing

The Blue Bird self immolates with Civic Integrity Policy.

by | Aug 12, 2022 | Articles, Opinion, Politics

As the midterm elections begin to take media prominence, it appears it is time once again for social media companies to update their policies on who can say what and who gets the loudest voice. First in line for the primary season is the big blue bird. New Twitter rules labeled “Civic Integrity Policies” will soon determine the political narrative, but the actual users of the platform are not greatly pleased by the development.

Posting from the official Twitter Safety account, the company notified users that “Starting today, we’ll begin enforcing the Civic Integrity Policy in context of the US 2022 midterms.” The company explains that “[t]his means we’ll take action against misleading claims about the voting process, misleading content intended to intimidate or dissuade people from participating in the election, or misleading claims that may undermine public confidence in elections outcomes.”

And for many users, this was the sound of the other shoe dropping.

Customers Bite Back at Twitter Rules

Never well known for being a “safe space” from fiery comments and damning memes, the user base erupted in a Vesuvius of vitriol for what they say is political favorability and censorship for conservatives. Within minutes of the policy enforcement post, the Twitterati were posting example after example of misleading or outright false claims made by folks on the political left that were neither removed nor flagged as disinformation.

For example, “Reminder: Brian Kemp stole the gubernatorial election from Georgians and Stacey Abrams.” That particular gem came from now-White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. Other popular themes in the multitudinous reply stream were references to Hunter Biden’s laptop and Hillary Clinton’s many claims that the 2016 election was stolen.

In fact, it would take a hardy reader to find even a single solitary tweet or reply in support of Twitter’s application of the Civic Policy guidelines.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting Trouble

Indeed, this is not the first year Twitter has employed such a program; however, as with all things tech, each iteration comes with “new and improved” features.

“We’re working actively to protect the health of conversations on our platform through our policies, products, and partnerships,” the company claimed. “Our work is centered around ensuring that the information you see on Twitter is credible, keeping you and your data safe, and providing transparency along the way.” How does this manifest in the real world?

One of the more notable new additions to Twitter’s integrity toolbox is the “prebunk” designed “to get ahead of misleading narratives on Twitter, and to proactively address topics that may be the subject of misinformation.” Also on the docket is an increase in “misleading information labels,” which aim to offer an alternative view by providing “debunking content.”

But as the Roman poet Juvenal once asked, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Trusting Who?

Shh -- Twitter Rules -- PixabayKey to the Twitter rules initiative is “trusted information,” specifically from those whom the company claims have built a reputation of trust. The information sheet reads: “We look to trusted experts who can provide relevant, authoritative information to the market so that we can find and connect you with the most up-to-date content. It’s important for us to curate and elevate the voices of trusted experts so you can trust that you’ll get accurate information on the subject from a verified professional when you come to Twitter.”

So those who are trusted by the corporation will be “elevated” above other users. What could possibly go wrong? Of course, the whole concept relies on how the bosses determine who is an expert … apparently, this is easier to define than “what is a woman.”

“We consider a trusted expert someone who has established a track record of reliably sharing accurate information on the subject and/or has a verified professional connection to an authoritative source,” Twitter explains.

For those of you with a nose for niceties, this translates as: The experts are whomever we say they are.

What Would Elon Do?

GettyImages-1395371342 (1) Elon Musk

Elon Musk (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue)

As the deal to purchase Twitter wends its way through litigation, curious minds wonder what Elon Musk – the potential buyer – makes of the situation. At the time of writing, he has not made a public comment. But as the multi-billion dollar takeover was put in limbo due to disagreements over genuine user numbers, it’s safe to assume the Tesla boss is watching closely.

When Twitter says it will amplify trusted sources, it is fair to ask the question: Trusted by how many people? Despite being banned from posting new content back in late June, Professor Jordan Peterson still has 2.8 million followers … presumably people who trust his views and credentials. Karine Jean-Pierre has 2.4 million followers and has demonstrably posted false information. Who will the company consider a more reliable source?

The evidence of conservative censorship on social media is long, storied, and entirely verifiable. That Twitter has in the past targeted conservative voices seems, to many, to be an open and shut case. Those on the right are unlikely to have the same criteria when determining the credentials of experts or to be convinced that something is worthy of “prebunking” based on a helpfully applied label. So one has to wonder, is the Civic Integrity program about protecting users from information that might mislead them or a way to protect the rest of the world from information that the mainstream media and the entrenched DC establishment wish didn’t exist?

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