Twitter Announces That It Will Police Speech

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Americans should be concerned.

Yesterday, Twitter made a massive change to its policies that harms free speech. The company stated that they would begin pushing “bad tweets” further down Twitter timelines, hiding communications from certain users based on what they tweet. BuzzFeed News has the scoop.

For those who view Twitter's shift in policy as inconsequential at first glance, let me unpack this announcement point by point.

First of all, I have no idea what “game the system” means. It’s likely just a set of behaviors that Twitter would prefer you didn’t adopt. It’s so broad as to give Twitter near unlimited freedom to hide the tweets they arbitrarily choose to.

Twitter also says it will censor tweets from people who are “acting like a jerk.” Again, this term is astoundingly broad. Does it cover just cyberbullying? Will Twitter look for this "jerk-like" behavior on its own?

Now we reach the more obvious nonsense: if you tweet at a bunch of people you don’t follow, Twitter considers that suspicious. Sure, bots and trolls do that, but so do normal people. And many people create multiple Twitter accounts from the same IP address in order to tweet as their dog or create a social following for their small business.

It’s the last signal of so-called suspicion that’s so troublesome, though. If Twitter finds that one user has violated its extensive terms of service – an agreement that includes a prohibition on “hateful conduct” – every single one of that user’s followers is now under suspicion as well.

What’s most bewildering about this comically overbroad announcement is its implication that Twitter knows better than its users. Anyone on Twitter can block, mute, or report anyone else. Rather than allow users to police themselves, however, Twitter will independently determine based on some set of nebulous criteria which tweets do not even deserve to be seen.

This sort of conversation-killing behavior from a private company whose business is conversations should enrage every free person. Given the left-leaning makeup of Twitter’s draconian Trust and Safety Council and the wide-open wording of this latest directive, I have no doubt in my mind that Twitter will now attempt to silence conservative voices. They have now revealed a facially neutral way to do so.

I expect Twitter will be far more lax to hateful tweets from progressives, defending their insane vitriol against President Trump or Israel or gun owners or pro-life marches or Christians. In fact, even if Twitter told me their ambiguous policy of content policing would be applied evenly to both sides of the culture war, I wouldn’t believe them.

Twitter likely feels secure in making such chilling changes. They’re betting conservatives won’t leave in droves, or at all. They can silence the right-wing voices they choose, affecting the national conversation simply by labeling tweets from pundits like Candace Owens, Ben Shapiro, or even Charles Murray “bad tweets" and making it more difficult for their followers to see their messages.

This blatant attempt to stifle speech should place free Americans on high alert. As the most likely targets of Twitter’s wrath, conservatives should begin to fund and construct an ark to withstand the oncoming flood of Twitter’s paternalism. Once Twitter inevitably begins to censor people based on their politics, we should take what we can carry, board the boat, and wait out the storm.

Comments
No. 1-6
tgbell
tgbell

Until a few decades ago, most Americans had only one choice for local telephone service -- but the telephone service was provided by a private, for-profit company. If the telephone company had decided to limit or block access by certain individuals, based on what they had to say, I would hope that all Americans would have been outraged. Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube now occupy a position similar to the original telephone companies. Although they are private, for-profit companies, at this point they are essentially the only options for people desiring those services. I would hope all Americans would be outraged by their efforts to limit freedom of speech, just as they would if a phone company attempted to limit speech.

Reaganite
Reaganite

They are already censoring conservatives. They suspend. They eliminate real accounts with tens or hundreds of thousands of followers...for no offense at all. They shadow ban, pushing tweets down where no one sees them. The injured parties are always conservatives who have to try to start over to rebuild their presence. If they were doing this to liberals, media watchdogs would be screaming. When there is a virtual monopoly, the advice by some on this thread to just leave...rings hollow. They are a private company discriminating purely on ideology. They don't like free speech. Conservative speech is hate speech to them. They lure users to their platform, promising to promote their business...invest with us. They use their user numbers to bolster their ad revenue. Then, the moment a user says something politically incorrect, they go after them. Any mention of God and guns set them off. Until there is a viable alternative, conservatives are right to fight when the rug is pulled out from under them for offending the liberals at Twitter who falsely advertise their forum. From here to Britain, they send notices to prominent conservatives of liberal complaints about tweets that are only offensive to Twitter's allies on the left. They mean to purify their forum, to silence free speech. If you love free speech and the animating contest of ideas, it is conservative to be concerned and to call them out.

ekay
ekay

I hope they shut down people who use OMG and other epithets that many of us find to be offensive. Too many of us are forced to listen to or read coarse language.

Spindletop
Spindletop

Twitter is a corporation that provides a free service. They're not a public utility or government entity. Don't like their rules? Don't use their platform. Complaining about a company legally doing what they think is best to preserve their bottom line and maximize shareholder value is about as un-conservative as it gets.

TomBrown
TomBrown

Try "gab" if you don't like Twitter. Ultimately what they host on their servers is up to them, so it's useless complaining about it.