Twitter has announced a new feature soon to premiere on its social media platform that will offer users the chance to think twice before tweeting. Is this another way to censor consumers, or is it a form of protection that could keep them out of Twitter prison? Could it, perhaps, be a little of both?
Here’s How It Works
If the new Twitter algorithm notices “offensive or harmful language” in a tweet draft, a prompt will ask the user to review their post. If they say yes to the review option, it will allow them to edit, delete, or — damn the torpedoes – hit the send button.
There has been much discussion about how social media has deteriorated interpersonal relationships and communication with the rise in popularity of high-tech platforms such as Twitter. This is primarily because users can hide behind a keyboard and express themselves in ways they may not willingly do in person. On Twitter, there is no friend or colleague with you to raise an eyebrow, cringe, or say, “That’s not cool” or “You shouldn’t say stuff like that.” Caught up in the heat of the moment, many an injudicious comment has flown. But the problem here is once a tweet is out there in Twitter-land, there is little one can do about it. While Tweets can be taken down, the damage is almost always done.
On the surface, the intentions of this new feature would seem protective of the user. What could possibly be wrong with an attitude that inspires one to pause and say to themselves, “Maybe I should think twice about this”? A chance to sit back and think before sending could be a boon to those who tend to run hot. As we have seen through cancel culture, one tweet from 10 years ago can still cause trouble.
Protective or Insidious?
Despite the assertion that this new feature is a genuine effort to protect the user, Twitter has historically shown itself to be anything but a fair arbiter of public discourse. The high-tech platform has essentially been a vulture – chewing to pieces any user that does not follow its worldview. From censoring former President Donald Trump for “spreading misinformation” and “supporting” the January 6th Capitol incident to banning tweets from notable conservatives, Twitter has proven itself a demanding and punitive left-wing master.
The examples are endless. The house that Jack Dorsey built permitted leftist comedian Kathy Griffin to express her desire to assassinate President Trump. Nation of Islam leader Reverend Louis Farrakhan, whom the Anti-Defamation League tags as the “Most Popular Anti-Semite in America — was shortly suspended from Twitter in January but, according to Twitter, only due to an “error.”
The most recent biased move by Twitter came when #UncleTim was trending on the platform after Senator Tim Scott, a black conservative, delivered the Republican rebuttal to President Biden’s address to Congress. The racial slur was spun off the main character in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, an anti-slavery novel written by Harriet Beecher Stowe that the left has misappropriated as racist. After trending for 12 long hours, Twitter finally blocked the hashtag and blamed its error on an algorithm glitch. These events along with many others are reasons for the average conservative to be skeptical of Twitter’s new plan.
During the testing of this innovative Twitter prompt, 34% of those sampled checked their reply to a tweet or did not reply at all, according to the mega-platform. The company did not provide specifics on the tweets prompted or “offensive” words that were flagged. Nor did it provide information on the demographics and political affiliations of the sample population.
As of February 2021, 92.2% of Twitter users are 18 years old or older – a population that can serve in the military and vote. As independent adults, one must wonder why Twitter has determined these folks cannot think or speak without a hall monitor? This new Twitter feature could be just another level of cancel culture and censorship, but in a strange twist, it might benefit conservatives because at least they will know that their tweet set off sirens at Twitter. Currently, they are tweeting in the dark.
But make no mistake, Twitter has repeatedly revealed itself as desiring to dictate and control the social discourse of its users. On the surface, this new idea of warning users about their comments may seem noble. Still, based on its history of lopsided censorship, there is reason to believe that this is merely another effort by the social media mega-giant to control and manipulate American speech.