Greg Beato on Twitter and Free Speech

Credit: Stian Eikeland / / CC BY NC-SACredit: Stian Eikeland / / CC BY NC-SATwitter has developed into a major hub for mainstream discourse in large part because millions of people tweet under their real names, including thousands of celebrities and other prominent people whose accounts have been explicitly verified by Twitter. This high degree of disclosure leads to a high degree of trust. Twitter offers substantial opportunities to interact with immediately identifiable people, and that makes it a good place for strengthening real-world social ties and business relationships, and also for keeping track of Donald Trump’s latest feuds and what Kim Kardashian thinks of Atlantic City.

But as Greg Beato observes, as much as Twitter benefits from users who tweet under their real names—especially from verified celebrities—it hasn’t seen any need to prohibit fake personas. Its combination of authenticated identity and easy pseudonymity, with no barriers to access between these two very distinct classes of users, is a pretty unique attribute. In fact, Beato writes, so far at least, Twitter’s laissez-faire attitude toward online discourse has been its greatest business proposition.


Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.