To Twitter, free speech is only for people who say what Twitter wants them to say. For everyone else, there’s censorship. And their heavy-handedness about who says what to whom is getting downright untenable.
The social media giant began the month of March by announcing new algorithms to “identify accounts as potentially engaging in abusive behavior,” as several news outlets report. It was bad enough when any user could report you; now, Twitter says, if its automated system decides that you’re abusive, it will punish you by limiting your account or even banning you.
Of course, what constitutes abuse is determined by Twitter, and as Liberty Nation already reported multiple times, Twitter is applying their standards unfairly. Even liberal David Frum had to admit in November 2016 that while Twitter, as a corporate entity, can limit speech that is not in line with their values, they’ve basically decided “that some and only some speech will be policed, by standards that can only be guessed at in advance.” As far back as 2014, Twitter’s one-sided censorship was pointed out by both liberals and conservatives; the New Yorker admitted that “Twitter’s new harassment protocol won’t be ideologically neutral.”
The new algorithms offer a type of plausible deniability for Twitter; instead of having to answer for such draconian moves as banning users whose politics they don’t like, they can point to their ‘new system’ and its foibles. Ed Ho, Twitter’s vice president of engineering, already set up the scenario.
“Since these tools are new we will sometimes make mistakes,” Mr. Ho said, “but know that we are actively working to improve and iterate on them every day.” The door is wide open now for massive amounts of abuse; were you banned for your political beliefs? So sorry, must be the new system. The real question will be how Twitter chooses to handle two things: 1) false positives that the system takes action on, and 2) actual harassment or abuse perpetrated by leftist users against more liberty-minded folks. While Twitter (and articles about it like this one from the New York Times) like to portray the so-called harassment as being always towards the left, that’s not the case either.
Twitter’s consistent tightening of the noose on individual users because of their politics is becoming a running joke; it’s no wonder why so many Twitter users are flocking to Gab. It’s hard not to love a place where “Speak Freely” is the motto, and censorship means filtering out the things you don’t want to see. Imagine That?
Twitter, one the other hand, would prefer to control you and your free speech.