May 17, 2022
Twitter Is Still Ramping Up Efforts To Suppress Content
While the deal is not yet final, Elon Musk is buying Twitter and he’s promising to make changes to the platform, most notably by lessening the censorship that goes on behind the scenes.
While those of us who doomscroll the hellscape that is the bird app have seen some signs of life in response to Musk’s pledge — long-banned accounts being reinstated, dormant users returning, people on the right finally getting their blue checks — it increasingly seems like those still in charge want to leave as much of a mess for the next owner to clean up as possible.
An example of such began showing itself last week when podcaster Eliza Bleu sent her first op-ed to a friend and asked her to share it. When the friend opened the message, she was greeted with a warning stating “Message hidden due to suspicious content.”
So much for being a place “to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly without barriers. Our business and revenue will always follow that mission in ways that improve – and do not detract from – a free and global conversation.”
Bleu’s inaugural op-ed was about Twitter, but that doesn’t seem to be what triggered the algorithm, or person masquerading as an algorithm, as the article was more specifically about how Musk’s changes could help lessen child predators’ ability to use the app to share media showing sexual abuse. It was not a broadside against Twitter’s current modus operandi. It was not a call for digital anarchy. It wasn’t even that pro-Musk. Nonetheless, whatever algorithmic changes that have been rolled out in recent days caught her message. ~~~~~~~
While my friends, as well as Bleu’s, were able to view the message, this development is reminiscent of Twitter’s reaction to The New York Post’s reporting on Hunter Biden’s laptop. At the time, users could not only not tweet a link to the piece, they couldn’t even direct message it, content warning or otherwise. Jack Dorsey may have called that decision a mistake, but some of the coders behind the scenes evidently do not share that opinion, even today.
When announcing his acquisition of the company, Musk wrote, “Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.” Today, with these subtle changes, Twitter is now still trying to not only limit debate but prevent friends from sharing their work with one another. ~~~~~~~
But since the rot is still deep within the company, seeking to control which conversations get to happen even now, Musk must channel one such banned user, roll in on day one, and tell a whole lot of employees, “You’re fired.” If he truly wants a digital town square, it’s the only way to remove the chains that a bunch of lefty nerds are trying to keep us in.