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Free Minds & Free Markets

James O'Keefe Panders to Populist 'Conservatives' Who Think Silicon Valley Is the Greatest Threat to Freedom

They used to call themselves supporters of limited government. Some still do.

mkhmarketing/fotermkhmarketing/foter

James O'Keefe's latest "investigation" with Project Veritas focuses on "censorship" at Twitter, focusing on "shadow banning" and other methods Twitter employees allegedly said they use to regulate user behavior.

Twitter has found out being an open space for racist trolls doesn't entice new users or encourage existing users to stick around, and so in recent months it has tried to impose new policies to minimize that. It should be free to adopt whatever policies it wants—it's a private company, after all.

The idea that Twitter might want to prioritize its bottom line over its users' ability to say whatever they want to whoever they want on the platform has given many modern conservatives the vapors.

"This represents the most sinister threat to free speech in history," Media Research Center President Brent Bozell said in a statement. (You see, "social media is the communications vehicle of the future," and Twitter is a social media company.) Tucker Carlson, who has masterfully co-opted the right's prevailing populist mood to propel his prime-time Fox News show to the top of the ratings, tweeted this week that "the Federal Government is no longer the main threat to your privacy and freedoms. Big corporations are. The Orwellian future is increasingly the Orwellian present, and tech barons are becoming our new commissars."

"It's increasingly clear that tech giants aren't just a threat to our privacy they are a threat to our basic American freedoms," Carlson added in a subsequent tweet.

Twitter lets Carlson claim the company is a threat to basic American freedoms, so it doesn't seem to be curtailing his freedoms. Twitter even lets a right-wing competitor—Gab, which claims to be a "free speech alternative" but looks more like a safe space for right-wing trolls—promote itself on Twitter's platform. Some threat.

Twitter has the right to regulate the use of its platform in a way that it believes will make it profitable. A cesspool of rando trolls doesn't attract users that add value. The motivations shouldn't be hard for people to understand, particularly if they claim to be proponents of the free enterprise system. Even if all of O'Keefe's allegations are true (and that's highly dubious), Twitter's policies aren't a threat to our "basic American freedoms."

Progressives often argue that private companies "owe" the government or the people something, particularly if they profitably offer a good or service that progressives can claim is a right. In many a liberal worldview, business is innately predatory, waiting to exploit consumers that willingly pay for a good or service they want. Carlson and friends are making largely the same point, while managing to use even more histrionic language than many mainstream liberals.

Increasingly, the "new conservatism" in the age of Trump appears to be little more than contemporary progressivism plus white identity politics.

Photo Credit: mkhmarketing/foter

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  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    The biggest farce that got exposed by Trump is the supposed anti-government sentiment of conservatives. What a total joke.

  • Hugh Akston||

    There's nothing more libertarian than armed storm troopers prohibiting the free movement of goods and people.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    There's nothing more libertarian than armed storm troopers prohibiting the free movement of goods and people

    If that's the case, there hasn't been a libertarian society in all of living human history.

  • GILMORE™||

    "" the supposed anti-government sentiment of conservatives"

    I don't know who was so stupid as to have ever imagined such a thing. Conservatives have never been "anti" govt, and i think the only people pretending so were hard-lefties.

    at best, it was "Limited" govt, or "small" govt. and even then, the limitations are generally, "the things that the constitution doesn't grant"; e.g. "mandating healthcare". no limitations applied to where govt does have a clear mandate: e.g. national defense, etc.

  • Tony||

    They want government limited to all the things they want, and you can't disagree because Jesus.

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    "Lmao I guess we found out why reason dot com is such hot garbage these days. Stay irrelevant ed" - Paul Nehlen supporter

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I feel betrayed. I knew I should never have trusted a New Yorker...

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    It Iowahawk was hurt then I support full military intervention.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Iowahawk is about as libertarian as you, Weigel.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Grappling with strawmen is the only way Mikey can get a fair fight.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Hey, how do gay strawmen like to have sex?

    With their hay knees.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Oh my god.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Just mocking Mikey for his dumb jokes yesterday.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    I know, but that was a little too authentic.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    [hangs head in shame]

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Fun fact: if Iowahawk was aware at all of Simple Mikey, he'd hate him just as much as everybody else does.

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    And if he were banned from twitter, he'd probably be thankful.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Twitter almost banned this one guy that I like so fuck you, Ed.

  • DajjaI||

    Here's my story. It starts off sad but there is a happy ending and a few words of wisdom mixed in.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    [crickets]

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    The banhammer is the perfect tool a company can use to let people know who they want their customers to be.

  • Hugh Akston||

    [report spam]

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Twitter has found out being an open space for racist trolls doesn't entice new users or encourage existing users to stick around, and so in recent months it has tried to impose new policies to minimize that. It should be free to adopt whatever policies it wants—it's a private company, after all.

    And the good news is, it's causing a bit of an exodus from twitter, especially when they ban people for being critical of mundane issues, then bizarrely claim an ancillary tweet about a heavy metal guitarist named "lynch" was 'racist'.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    OMG! You like George Lynch too????

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I had never heard of George Lynch, but I heard about that incident and tried, I tried real hard, Ringo, to figure out why saying that "Lynch" was the greatest guitarist ever was a 'racist tweet'. And then was further upheld on appeal. I'd forgive Twitter for it's retarded bot catching a 'watch word', but upheld after a human reviewed it?

  • ||

    I wonder what the ban rates are for:
    George Lynch
    David Lynch
    Loretta Lynch
    Reggie Lynch
    Merrill Lynch

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    He did have a band called the Lynch Mob. So maybe that's someone called him racist.

    Of course whoever said that has probably never met George Lynch and has zero idea about what kind of person he is in reality.

    Yeah, Yeah, I know, the only reality that matters to progressives is the one they impose on you.

  • JeremyR||

    What I find depressing is that Lynch's original band, Dokken, has more multiplatinum albums than Blue Oyster Cult...

  • The Last American Hero||

    The problem with Twitter is more one of false advertising. They promote themselves as an open platform, but ban people who express political views they don't like, or take their sacred figures to task. The establish a "verified" system to let users know the person using this account is in fact, the person they claim is using the account, but then refuse to give checks to people with political positions they don't like, even though the accounts are the indisputabley the real deal. If Twitter held themselves out as "a forum for real progressives to talk about real progressive issues in a real progressive manner", there would be no problem.

    And given the revelations about Google this week - that they have no problem with employees threatening physical violence against other employees and members of the public who's political views they disagree with and that their "news truthometer" uses very different metrics depending on the political affiliation of the party they are examining - it's not paranoia to be concerned about how Google would exercise their power.

  • Tony||

    They don't ban people for political views they don't like. Ann Coulter is on Twitter, doing just fine. They ban people for egregious bigotry. Since that doesn't include Ann Coulter it means they're being awfully generous.

  • Philadelphia Collins||

    Always wanting to silence the opposition.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "The problem with Twitter is more one of false advertising. "

    Looks like they're ready for a class action law suit.

  • ||

    A cesspool of rando trolls doesn't attract users that add value.

    Weird 'cesspool of rando trolls' was my nic... I mean this sounds a) awfully judgmental for a libertarian publication, let alone a cultural libertarian one and b) exactly like what the internet is, has been, and will always be.

  • JNYC||

    I agree with Ed that Twitter has a right to discriminate for whatever reason it wants. But I applaud those who criticize Twitter for its choices, which includes blackballing those with unpopular views who are otherwise harmless. Ed seems to sympathize with Twitter, not merely defend Twitter's rights.

    I fully oppose conservatives who talk about breaking up imagined (or real) monopolies. We libertarians are a minority, too, but we don't expect entitlements and special favors from the government.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    And it seems that while Twitter loses money on every sale, they intend to make it up in volume.

    There is a nasty side issue though, that companies like Twitter and Facebook are in fact doing the bidding of national governments. The ugly story about Facebook happily complying with the U.S. and Israeli government's takedown requests of 'problematic' users makes you realize that there might be an argument that the government has found success in outsourcing censorship.

    I don't believe there's a 'government solution' to that, but I can understand why people would start to really hate (and criticize) these companies.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Maybe we'll all get lucky and the "social media" bubble will burst sooner rather than later.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Social media is here to stay, because it fills in a void that people want in their lives. But the specific companies and platforms? Ephemeral AF.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    If it fills a void that people want, then why do people keep using it?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Because it fill a void that people want. Or is there a joke here I'm not getting.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Actually I reread my initial message, and now I get the joke. Well played sir. Well played.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Actually I reread my initial message, and now I get the joke. Well played sir. Well played.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    I suspect you're right that some platform or other will always be around. I just hope that one day people will start attributing less importance to them. When they become deviant enough, only deviants will use them. Or something. I dunno.

  • ||

    I don't believe there's a 'government solution' to that, but I can understand why people would start to really hate (and criticize) these companies.

    The lack of revenue immediately jumped to my mind as well. The other factor that Krayewski conveniently overlooks is that it's not just the bad racist shitheads being purged from Twitter, Amazon, Google, etc. All manner of sin is actively purged from all corners of the internet with a Holy Fire that would make Billy Graham jealous. And social progressives like Gillespie cheer them on in what is essentially a still racist holier-than-thou gladiator-style stomp fest.

  • Ron||

    Especially when some NGO's that are required to be used to get governmental approvals require the use of Facebook etc in order to get that work done then facebook etc have become a necessity of conducting business. thus they have become a utility that can be regulated from censoring users. they are no longer an option they are an entity to bridge the gap between mandated sources

  • buybuydandavis||

    "There is a nasty side issue though, that companies like Twitter and Facebook are in fact doing the bidding of national governments. "

    That can't be!

    Reason assures me that they are *totally* free market enterprises, and therefore not a problem at all to our liberty.

  • colorblindkid||

    I do think Silicon Valley is a huge threat to freedoms of all kinds, but the government is still the larger threat and should not intervene.

  • Hugh Akston||

    How are tech companies a threat to freedoms?

  • Deflator Mouse||

    Consolidation of the avenues of discourse makes censorship much easier. (illustration)

  • XM||

    Ed is ok with twitter banning people from their service due to their political ideology? That's illegal.

    And we can just buy the company line and ignore statements made by former employees? In the age of Weinstein?

    The kind of users who have been targeted by twitter are not racist trolls.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Ed is ok with twitter banning people from their service due to their political ideology? That's illegal.

    But it shouldn't be. That's kinda the libertarian way.

    The kind of users who have been targeted by twitter are not racist trolls.

    So what? Their company, their rules.

  • XM||

    Companies can't ban users based on their political ideology (or race, gender, etc). Whether they SHOULD be able to is another debate.

  • Zeb||

    Can't they? As I understand it, political views are not protected by anti-discrimination laws. That's what the stupid HR videos at work tell me, anyway.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Until someone starts firing just the liberals.

  • Deflator Mouse||

    Not so. Unless your political ideology can be recast as a religion.

  • Mickey Rat||

    It should not be illegal except as a breaking if the cobtravt Twitter has with its users. If it claimed no ideological judgements on content then it is violating its agreements.

  • Zeb||

    I'd think that their lawyers would be smart enough to put some "we can ban anyone for any reason" clause in the user agreement. But I don't really know. No one reads that shit.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Why is it illegal for a company to ban people on its own platform for political ideology?

  • Tony||

    It's not.

  • Deflator Mouse||

    Yeah, while I agree with XM on the issue, he's wrong on that point.

  • XM||

    I guess it depends on the TOS of these sites.

    A restaurant (or brick and mortar business) almost certainly cannot ban republicans or Trump supporters in most states, if not all states. "We have the right to refuse service to anyone" doesn't allow them to deny service to black people.

    We don't live in a libertarian world, so a social media platform that makes up random standard to ban or reduce exposure on their service is a concern, and a threat to free speech principles. I've heard of several prominent individuals whose accounts twitter were shut down or censored, even though they didn't violate the TOS in the slightest.

    Reason would be howling if Twitter censored pot legalization movement on their platform. Sure, they might have the right to do so, but what's the TOS? Are they applying the same standard to across the board? We already know Twitter and Google collaborate with the Chinese to censor speech on their end and they also hand data to the government. I'm not that naive.

  • Bronson, Missouri||

    It's a tough one for libertarians. These are huge, important companies that are integrated into most of our lives. They are unethical, intolerant, and hateful. But they make some pretty good products that are hard to give up. Regulation isn't the answer. Will a market response be effective? Possibly, although I'm dubious.

    The people who work at these companies want people with different political views silenced and deprived of jobs/money/rights.. Probably if you got some truth serum in them, they would admit that they'd like these people to be dead. And this includes libertarians too. They don't care how many anti-Trump screeds you've published. If you disagree with them on Net Neutrality or the proper scope of the FDA, they'd like you to be dead too.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Will a market response be effective? Possibly, although I'm dubious.

    If you look at Twitter's balance sheet, it seems the market is responding pretty well. They can't keep losing money forever.

  • Bronson, Missouri||

    Maybe. Although I would attribute their financial woes more to having a bad business model than their unethical behavior.

    Google will be the real test though. Twitter is mostly a disposable time waster. Google (or Apple) have ingrained themselves as a real part of people's lives and jobs to support productive activities. Are people going to drop them and go elsewhere because of their hatefulness and intolerance? I'm sure it will happen at the margins, but enough to make an real impact? I don't know...

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Maybe. Although I would attribute their financial woes more to having a bad business model than their unethical behavior.

    I agree with that. I admit it's hard to monetize creating a platform where people send text messages to each other for free.

    Are people going to drop them and go elsewhere because of their hatefulness and intolerance?

    It whittles away slowly, then the next thing you know, no one has a PC in their home running Microsoft products, and lawsuits over IE 4 seem like the waste of time that they were.

    My point is, if these platforms annoy enough people, they start dripping away to other ways of doing things-- or a new way of doing things that no one can imagine makes itself known, and the new technology just does an end-run around the old technology.

  • Deflator Mouse||

    If you look at Twitter's balance sheet, it seems the market is responding pretty well. They can't keep losing money forever.

    Of course they can, as long as someone is willing to finance their shortfall.

    A good question -- and one that certain persons would rather not see asked -- would be: who is financing Twitter's shortfall and why? Rinse and repeat for NYT, CNN, WaPo, ....

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    Will a market response be effective?

    Yes. Especially if we're talking about Twitter. While it's harder to imagine Google/Alphabet fading away, their time may well come, and it may be swift.

  • Deflator Mouse||

    Not tough at all. The distinction is not between public and private as leftists and leftist sympathizers like Eddie Kray-kray would have you believe. The distinction is between monopoly and competition. There are already antitrust laws on the books.

    Simple rule would fix it: Once a corporation possesses 2/3 market share in a particular good or service, it has to split in half. Takes care of all the problems in one fell swoop.

  • Ron||

    so if a baker has to cater to gays etc then shouldn't twitter be required to cater to alternate opinions.

    As a private entity they can discriminate against whoever they want and if they want to eliminate 50% of their potential clients thats their decision but people should know they are being discriminated against before partaking in their business

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    As soon as someone files the right lawsuit, finds a sympathetic court etc.

  • Bronson, Missouri||

    Even if you wanted to go against your principles and give them a taste of their own medicine, it wouldn't work. The regulators, media, etc are all on their side.

  • Deflator Mouse||

    This isn't comparable to a baker refusing to let a gay couple purchase his cakemaking services for their wedding.

    More like a baker who accepts the money for a cake for a gay wedding and then never delivers it.

  • Ron||

    why does Reason choose to select out conservatives when plenty of liberals have been calling for limits on the internet based on it being scary. who, people like Hillary and Al Gore and almost every liberal are the ones taking up the banner of eliminating any alternate view as being to dangerous to be on the internet.

  • Hugh Akston||

    1) This article is centered around the latest Project Veritas clownshow and reactions to it. You can find plenty of articles on Reason about both sides desire for social media censorship with a minimum of effort.

    2) Reason is not a person and is thus not capable of choosing anything.

  • hello.||

    So many that you couldn't link to even one.

  • Kevin47||

    Twitter bans a lot of stuff that isn't racist, and in now way impacts its bottom line. Why is it wrong to point this out?

    Yes, companies have the right to do whatever they want. But shouldn't the ideal of liberty extend beyond that which government controls?

  • Entelechy||

    When did the Reason Foundation ditch the First Amendment and pledge allegiance to to its corporate sponsors?

    This is one creepy article.

  • Tony||

    Twitter is government now?

    Libertarians are usually consistent in the belief that corporations get to do pretty much whatever they want to people.

  • Trollificus||

    Protards are usually consistent in the belief that Libertarians believe pretty much whatever the proggies say/think/hallucinate they do. Peak derp.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Corporate control good
    Government control bad
    Because reasons

  • Tony||

    The irony is that people who spend so much energy protecting themselves from having to change their mind about anything are so arbitrary and hypocritical when it comes to the actual alleged principles they're clutching onto.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    You know who else is worried about minds being changed by things they see on the internet?

  • drugwarisevil||

    I applaud what Project Veritas is doing exposing the liberal bias of twitter and other social media. Twitter is a horrible product and a fraud. Anyone wishing proof, just explore why Twitter has not verified Julian Assange's account. Or why they unverified Milo and then kicked him off completely. Nothing un-libertarian about exposing a crappy product produced by lying scumbags.

  • Tony||

    Or maybe you don't recognize how far down the bigot-hole you people have gone.

    Being a bigot used to be socially unacceptable. It should still be.

  • ||

    Being a bigot used to be socially unacceptable.

    So, anti-Semite, pro-life Christian feminist Anna "The 7 Steps To Revenge On Men Who Dump You" Ardin is the bigot in the Julian Assange case and should be ostracized, right? I mean Assange works with people all over the world, white, black, brown, left, right, and non-binary and Ardin would have trouble identifying more as a Nazi without just openly declaring herself to be one.

  • drugwarisevil||

    More like Reason is pandering to the media elites that give them face time on TV.

  • Deflator Mouse||

    Or whoever backed up the truck and dropped loads of cash on them in the last hours of their begathon last month.

  • Tony||

    Reason I think you've really cucked yourself on this one.

  • Trollificus||

    And it's not like the powers that be (or the SJWs an SJW-infested HR department might hire to implement policies*) would EVER, you know, kind of loosen the definition of "racist trolls" that Ed's so clear on. Just a little, around the edges, to make sure "we" get all of them. And their supporters. And people who communicate with them. And people whose denunciations of them are insufficient, or ring false*. OR, in the interest of keeping the platform "attractive", maybe a little preemptive action against those whose views have in the past, or might in the future, cause them to become inadequately sensitive to the concerns and grievances of the marginalized groups harmed by these "racist trolls".

    And of course, only good will be achieved by applying similar policies to "misogynistic trolls", "homophobic trolls" and "Islamophobic trolls"*. Perhaps using the simple, easy-to-implement "accuse and done" methods of the #metoo campaign? The attractiveness of such cleansing actions would surely be irresistible to other media platforms too! I mean, free country, private companies, what could possibly go wrong?

    I'm sure any misgivings I or others might have are either paranoia or white fragility, though I admit, being of trollish descent, such distinctions are opaque to me. Maybe another article to explain how unacceptable such reservations are, Ed?

    *-this has, of course, never happened.

  • Deflator Mouse||

    Oh look the identity thief is back.

    For readers who don't know, the real David Nolan is deceased.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Everyone knows.

    Hihn thinks he's actually disguising himself when he attempts to sockpuppet.

  • Deflator Mouse||

    So let me get this straight.

    Trump is anti-free speech because his personal lawyer drafted a threatening letter asking a publisher to not publish a book; this attempt that was ridiculed, and predicted to be utterly ineffective at suppressing the publication of the book, by everyone who has looked at it. In this he used an avenue of attack that is open to any person in the US who can afford a lawyer, by the way.

    Twitter meanwhile actually censors speech on its platform but that's OK because "hurr durr durr private company". Yeah, that makes total sense.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    You can twiddle my Twitter!

  • Kristian H.||

    I don't want the government to do anything about twitter, at least in a legal or regulatory sense.

    However, if the Executive Branch were to put forth a directive that all Government Funded Equipment (GFE) mush block twitter, facebook to government computers, and such, well, I wouldn't lose any sleep over that. Even it it were limited to Executive branch sites (let congress Ideal with their own systems, maybe DWS knows some good IT guys that can help?)).

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    By the way, just so you know, the visceral dislike of Facebook and Twitter goes way, WAY beyond the likes of alt-right darlings like James okeefe. Why, here are some former facebook executives talking about just how awful facebook and social media is in general. Notice the use of drug war language.

    https://youtu.be/39RS3XbT2pU

  • hello.||

    James O'Keefe isn't alt-right and it's very telling that Reason still hates him so much for exposing the total corruption at ACORN.

  • buybuydandavis||

    If people on the Right are silenced on the prevailing platforms, it's a large problem for the Right, and society generally, whether it's done by government or corporations.

    But as long as it's corporations who have power, Reason is fine and dandy with it.

    Did a corporation ever come out of a woman's womb?

    Aren't corporations actually Government spawn, enabling people with capital can make profits behind a shield of limited liability, and Government to spy, censor, and regulate behind a shield off "free" enterprise? Is that really what Liberty is, O' Progressitarians?

    There's all kinds of power in society. The actual guns of government are most egregious, but it's not like other forms of power can't yield bad consequences too. Having much of society silenced for what they believe is probably not a good thing.

    "Go make your own platform!"
    But when they do:
    EK: Gab, which claims to be a "free speech alternative" but looks more like a safe space for right-wing trolls

    Doesn't seem like they can win with Ed.

    Reason's tu quoque attacks against the Right for being delicate snowflakes and needing safe spaces is crap. The Right generally doesn't whine about getting their feelings hurt, and calling Leftist rhetoric violence. To the extent the Right ever complains, it's usually "if these are the rules now, they should apply to the Left too". That's not crying about hurt feelings. That's just wanting the rules enforced consistently.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    The gab thing is very interesting to me. It essentially provides a platform which doesn't have any of the creepy Twitter trust and Safety council stuff, which by the way if you read that list is a who's who of creepiness, but people just can't seem to bring themselves to accept that there might be other platforms that don't have the creepy censorship and ideological litmus test controls the Twitter Google and YouTube are starting to employ. So yes I have no doubt that a lot of "right-wing" people are probably landing on gab (or whatever platforms are competing with the major players) because there's no place for them anywhere else.

    If you keep getting mysteriously banned for saying completely innocuous things, which may have a conservative tilt, eventually you're going to quit and land in a place that lets you say those things. As those people who can't survive anywhere else tend to land there then that place gets called a place for conservative trolls.

  • Cyto||

    This debate completely misses a couple of the major points.

    The first problem with Twitter's Shadow Bans (and similar actions at facebook) is that they are designed to be invisible, even to the people that are banned. This isn't like reason banning some poster from the comments section for repeated trolling. It would be like Reason allowing them to continue posting, but just hiding their posts from other people, without telling anyone. So when Tony or Shriek load the page, there comments are there just as posted. But nobody replies. So they don't even know that they are not being heard.

    And it isn't just "trolls". It is also undesirable facts. So links to news or opinion articles are silently black holed.

    This has been pretty openly done as a political exercise - not at all as a defense of the platform against trolls to protect the bottom line. Executives from all of the big social media platforms were meeting and discussing ways to stop the spread of "fake news" - things favorable to Trump or harmful to Clinton - during last year's campaign. Google's Eric Schmidt formed a company specifically aimed at helping Clinton win, using data and technology from Google.

    Don't pretend that the new veneer of "protecting our brand" has anything to do with it. This is 100% about controlling the flow of information to benefit one political ideology. They have not really been terribly secretive about these aims.

  • Cyto||

    Twitter has found out being an open space for racist trolls doesn't entice new users or encourage existing users to stick around, and so in recent months it has tried to impose new policies to minimize that.

    None of this comports with the sequence of events or with the technology platform.

    They have long had methods for dealing with trolls - users can silence people they don't want to hear from, for example. Accounts can also be suspended or cancelled due to violations of the terms of service.

    That is not what this is about.

    The "new policies" are not from recent months. They date back at least two years. But nobody is sure, because the nature of the "shadow ban" is that the user in question doesn't know they are being shadow banned unless somebody else notices and asks them what is happening to their posts.

    I suspect that dealing with places like China and Europe played a large role as well. A decade ago Google et. al. were of a mind to tell China and Europe to stuff it when they were ordered to censor information. But they eventually caved in to the pressures and implemented state or court ordered censorship.

    This notion that it is OK to censor ideas, and the technology to make it possible, has been imported to the US.

  • Cyto||

    This all came to a head during the last campaign two years ago, as the Clinton team began working closely with executives at the big social media and tech companies. They even succeeded in pushing "truth commissions" to evaluate all that is right and good and true (in a totally politically neutral and non partisan way, we promise), including such luminaries of evenhanded and non-bigoted thought as Amanda Marcotte.

    Look, there is a difference between arguing "it is a private company and no libertarian should be arguing that the state should regulate how they run their platform" and arguing "they are totally not doing anything for partisan reasons and anyone who says so is totally a paranoid nutcase who loves big government".

    It is entirely possible to hold the position that it is crappy for social media platforms to censor political ideologies, particularly in ways that are secret and undiscoverable and the government should not be allowed to force companies to operate in specific ways.

  • Cyto||

    Finally, I find it extremely ironic that this comes on the heels of the "net neutrality" kerfuffle, where the same people who are outraged at O'Keefe for complaining about twitter being partisan and secretive in their "shadow bans" were at def-con 1 over the notion that without net neutrality regulation at the FCC, companies would be free to control what you see on the internet.

    (really, that was one of the most popular memes - that net neutrality involved free speech protections and eliminating net neutrality would allow political censorship by mega corporations. The people spreading these memes were the exact same people doing the shadow bans. As in Twitter and Facebook. And as in the far left internet activist. )

    Juxtaposing these two diametrically opposed world views within a week of each other is kind of amazing.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    This can't be said enough.

  • Ride 'Em||

    Social media is similar to what TV did in the mid to late decades of the last century with the exception that it allows full participation. There was a reason why TV was called the boob tube. It filled the living room with mindless activity. Social media just takes it a step further in that mindless people can participate and encourage other mindless activity. Are there good things, yes, but most of those are not in the news feed.

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