Twitter Censorship: Incompetence or Malice?

I am glad I made the decision several years back to continue maintaining this blog rather than abandoning blogging in favour of social media as many others did. I own this domain, and in the unlikely event of the current hosting company going bad on me, I can move to another host.

Recent events in Twitter point to a disturbing trend, and show the perils of relying on a company you have no control over for the entirety of your online presence.

Now I know Twitter has a harassment and bullying problem, and the company has been unacceptably slow in dealing with it. I’ve said before the best solution is far better blocking and muting functionality rather than centralised moderation. But that doesn’t seem to be the way they’re going.

The suspension of Whores of Yore (now reinstated), and the shadowbanning of St.Rev point yet again to a moderation policy that’s entirely arbitrarily and lacks any kind of transparency. While I know any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice, you can’t help feeling that Twitter’s rules are deliberately vague and selectively enforced for a reason. Under Jack Dorsey’s leadership Twitter has taken an increasingly left-authoritarian turn and abandoned previous commitments to free expression.

Are they deliberately trying to make Twitter a more hostile place for people who do not share the right politics, either to force them to self-censor or to abandon Twitter in favour of smaller free-speech ghettos?

Now, Whores of Yore does post some rather rude images, but those are explicitly permitted on Twitter provided they’re appropriately labelled as for adults only. And St Rev is a robust libertarian who doesn’t have much time for the left. But I’ve seen no evidence that either of them are guilty of violations of Twitter’s terms of service. Certainly no signs of targeted harassment of individuals. What is going on?

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2 Responses to Twitter Censorship: Incompetence or Malice?

  1. TBH I don’t know that this is “left-authoritarianism” so much as it is “freaking out after letting your service turn into a totally unmoderated cesspool and attempting to claw back some sense of ‘doing something’ by hitting all the soft targets at once.”

  2. Tim Hall says:

    I was going by some of the names on the “Trust and Safety Council”, which didn’t appeat to include much in the way of civil liberties or press freedom advocates.

    The consensus on Twitter is these suspensions are made by an algorithm which tries to identify bad users based on statistical analysis of word use and follower/following patterns, and it’s generating a lot of false positives. Which is probably the wrong solution to the wrong problem. Twitter should be better at keeping different groups who won’t play nice in the same sandbox apart.