Under CEO Jack Dorsey’s leadership, Twitter has consistently made tone deaf and politically motivated decisions in regards to a whole host of matters under its purview. They have played their users as idiots regarding the bias shown toward banning and shadowbanning users, been slow to respond to complaints from the right while moving rapidly in response to complaints from the left and corporate media outlets, and engaged a meandering standard towards “doxxing” and targeted harassment that is utterly laughable if it didn’t put the lives of many people at risk.
Now in their latest tone deaf action, Twitter has gone beyond the limits of mere stupidity and constant bias to engage in outright defamation.
According to NBC, Twitter reportedly plans to once again ignore its user demands for basic things like an edit button or better filters to mute trolling, and instead roll out a new feature that would clearly enable organized trolls to shut down articles and pieces they dislike.
In the screenshot of the demo obtained by NBC, Twitter used three examples of how the proposal would look. In doing so, they included a Tweet by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, featuring just one media outlet: The Federalist, who they defamed as “harmfully misleading.”
Since this is a demo image and not a live feature on Twitter, it was the company’s deliberate choice to characterize The Federalist’s verified reporting about the ICIG changing its forms and guidance for whistleblowers, ignoring the fact that the ICIG himself later confirmed our reporting on the record.
When asked who the individuals are at Twitter responsible for falsely characterizing The Federalist’s accurate story as “harmfully misleading”, and why they chose to falsely attack The Federalist in their “demo” of the proposed feature, a Twitter spokesperson refused to provide any answers, instead claiming that what was leaked to NBC News was “not currently a staffed project” and that the company has “no specific timelines to share” about when it would be rolling out its latest effort to arbitrarily censor certain publishers, accounts, and posts.
Twitter’s spokesperson also did not answer whether the company had any plans to flag false claims by Twitter’s own executives – such as the claim made by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey under oath before Congress that Twitter “does not use political ideology to make any decisions.”
Of course, that’s specific to this demo. Because Twitter can’t be trusted, they then turned around and told HuffPo – in response to queries about the laughable claim that Mike Bloomberg’s insertion of cricket sounds makes for a “harmfully deceptive video” – that it does have a new similar system set to go into effect in the coming weeks: “Twitter recently announced that starting March 5, it will add context labels to tweets containing “synthetic or manipulated media,” or remove such tweets if it determines that they “are likely to cause harm,” based on the following criteria… Had Bloomberg tweeted his video after the policy had gone into effect, Twitter would have likely attached a label to it, a spokesperson told HuffPost.”
The initial reaction of corporate media outlets is what you can expect. One of NBC’s most biased reporters, Ben Collins, who recently smeared the peaceful protests of law abiding gun owners in Virginia as a “white supremacist rally”, has already hailed the move by claiming “I can tell you what: Not a lot of things make me feel like there’s some hope. But the bad guys hated this stuff, the InfoWars types, the QAnon people, they are very afraid of this thing, so there’s a little hope here.”
NBC’s Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) on Bloomberg’s “doctored video": Twitter’s new policy flagging “disinformation” will include videos like this.
"If nobody will stop [disinfo], it can change narratives or change the outcome of the election." pic.twitter.com/4aINQNjWxH
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) February 21, 2020
Twitter and Jack Dorsey have given us plenty of evidence that they cannot be trusted when it comes to bias, shadowbanning, or the company’s ideological censorship of political content. Their latest gambit to suppress news stories Twitter dislikes was clearly designed to silence views that conflict with Twitter’s preferred narratives – and in that case will inevitably disproportionately hit accounts and publishers who dare to espouse conservative beliefs.
And combined with the Bloomberg statement, it’s easy to understand the bipartisan political ramifications of this. It’s no wonder that so many lawmakers are now open to eliminating the federal carve-outs that were originally designed to shield internet service providers from being legally liable for the actions of their users.
If Twitter is going to acknowledge the fact that they are a political publisher, actively promoting certain stories and censoring the news and opinions of those with whom the company’s executives disagree politically, then the special federal liability carve-outs they have long enjoyed will not survive.
Twitter is becoming in part a liberal media company. They're hiring journalists to do journalism – without bylines or accountability. What's that look like in practice? Ask the Covington Catholic kids
— Peter J. Hasson (@peterjhasson) January 31, 2020
It is one thing for Twitter to claim it wants to police violence, threats, and private information. They have a responsibility as a platform to do that. But that is not what this is. Twitter clearly wants all the powers and privileges of being a major news publisher, including shutting down opinions according to its own priorities, but with none of the costs or responsibilities.
That’s unacceptable. If Twitter wants to control content and censor users based on their political views, then lawmakers need to treat the company as the obvious publisher that it is.