Twitter’s Stalinist purge of conservative voices will backfire

Twitter’s mass ban of what it labels alt-right voices will backfire for two reasons:

  1. Everyone purged from Twitter will move to Gab and will take their massive Twitter following with them like Britain First has done this week.
  2. Rather than silencing the so-called alt-right, Twitter will draw attention to them and turn key conservative voices into iconic figures.

[…] “The more the system tries to make the ideas of nationalism taboo, the more people are going to be interested and seek them out,” he said. “It’s helping us propagate our message every time they try very clumsily to shut us down.”

For years, Twitter billed itself as the “free speech wing of the free speech party.”

But it’s been under growing public pressure over its failure to stop hate speech, including the targeting of actress Leslie Jones by racists. The alt right gained prominence during the presidential election for using social media to spread its ideology through racist viral memes and anonymous attacks on users from pro-Donald Trump accounts.

On Tuesday Twitter banned the accounts of prominent members of the alt-right. The move put the social media service in the dicey position of deciding what is acceptable speech and what is not.

Twitter’s head of safety, Del Harvey, told USA TODAY this week that Twitter is drawing a hard line between free speech and “behavior that is intended to silence others.”

Twitter’s behaviour is solely intended to silence others. Gab is now the only truly free speech social media platform on the internet.

[…]White nationalists leveled allegations of one-sided censorship against Twitter on Wednesday. The lack of transparency into why Twitter suspended the accounts in question, such as that of alt-right leader Richard Spencer, fueled perception in some quarters that Twitter is arbitrarily stifling speech.

[…] In a statement, Twitter said: “The Twitter rules prohibit violent threats, harassment, hateful conduct and multiple account abuse, and we will take action on accounts violating those policies.”

Twitter says it’s cracking down on hate speech […]

Hate speech and hateful conduct have not been defined by Twitter so they can and are arbitrarily banning whoever they like using those labels. Even before the great official Twitter purge began this month, people who had not broken the defined Twitter rules of conduct were being banned. Milo was held responsible for the acts of those who follow him. He didn’t racially attack Leslie Jones he only gave her movie a scathing review but because some people who followed Milo did racially attack her he was banned by Twitter for what they called incitement.

As a private company, Twitter has no obligation to provide a forum for white nationalist views and is subject only to non-discrimination laws, said George Freeman, executive director of the Media Law Resource Center.

If I hold Nationalistic views but I am black or a “person of colour” does that mean I will be allowed to exercise my freedom of speech on Twitter? If Twitter has no obligation to allow White skinned people to hold Nationalistic viewpoints then aren’t they discriminating against people on the basis of skin colour?

“The First Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights that protects the individual from government. It doesn’t protect the individual from private companies. A company is free to do really whatever it wants,” Freeman said. “There really are no speech rights accorded to the public that uses the private company. Twitter is perfectly within its legal rights.”

It may be legal to discriminate against people based on their opinions and skin colour online but it is bad for business. In five years Twitter if it still exists will be populated only by lefty trolls who have nothing better to do than to fight each other.

Nick Gillespie, editor in chief of Reason.com, a libertarian website, says he believes Twitter blundered in shutting down alt-right accounts.

Instead of restricting speech and denying the alt right a platform, Twitter should give individual users greater power to regulate what they see and don’t see on the service, he said.

That is exactly the power that Gab gives its users and why it truly is a free speech site.

[…] Let them say what they want to say in public and be rebuffed or be ignored,” Gillespie said. “You are not helping to combat it by walling it off and saying it’s so repugnant that individual users can’t block them if they want, can’t mute them or engage them […]

-usatoday.com


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