After taking a break from the often-lifesuck that is twitter, I thought I could spend the rest of the week getting back into the creative flow— back into writing, fiction, therapy, whatever. But no, recent news had to suck the life out of the room.
Now, what am I talking about? Censorship. It’s getting worse in social media. It’s gotten to the point that police in Western countries are arresting people for comments on Facebook. Yes, in so-called First World countries.
In the United Kingdom, you can and will be arrested for speech out of step with the Communications Act. Today, it may be over ugly speech, in regards to Syria and the migrant crisis, tomorrow, who knows. That’s the disorder of censorship: it’s evil, and people who believe in free speech must not tolerate it.
I disapprove of what you say,
but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
—Evelyn Beatrice Hall, The Friends of Voltaire
Twitter, however, is willing to find ways to censor anyway. It is, in fact, blacklisting accounts, with political bias, and at the same time apparently ‘whitelisting’ accounts it approves of. It’s done in the form of “shadow-banning”: silent, that people don’t even know that their tweets are not showing up in others’ feeds.
…I’m not a fan of Breitbart.com, but facts are facts… From Twitter shadowbanning is ‘real and happening every day,’ say inside-sources:
“The pattern of shadowban reports, which skews towards the alt-right, the populist right, and cultural libertarians, follows close on the heels of Twitter’s establishment of a ‘Trust and Safety Council’ … With shadowbans now confirmed by an inside source, there is little room for doubt that [twitter] is intent on silencing conservatives. Furthermore, it has demonstrated a complete lack of regard for transparency, concealing its shadowbanning system from users and hiding its political bias behind a veneer of opposition to online abuse. (In reality, the site turns a blind eye to abuse from left-wingers.)”
I should’ve known, after being reminded of twitter’s vague ‘values’ policy— that the website reserves the right to delete just about anything, or suspend or ban just about anyone without explanation.
Personally, the likes of Trump and Cruz in the news turn me off; both have been caught lying to the public. When I find a social media account endorsing one of the two, I eventually move on. But I’ve never blocked, muted, or tried to censor said accounts. That’s part of the beauty of connecting with people: it resonates or it doesn’t, and so long as people are respectful in how they interact with others, things are okay. But tell that to Facebook, Google, and now Twitter for gradually selling out actual values; their user base will drop for the right reasons if they continue to fall for political interests. Sad to say, sad to see.
Technically, private companies have the right to do whatever they want with the content they host, and if a government tells them that, by law, they must censor certain speech, it’s their right to comply. But we’ve been down this road many times; censorship doesn’t work. When you make sure there’s nothing but pressure in silence, things blow up. It’s human nature.
The reality is, you can’t police everything; you can only encourage personal responsibility so people can handle things wisely in their own right. And if you need a real solution to ignorance, it is this: educating, honest discourse. In other words, what’s already worked all this time.
…There is some good news in Censorship Land. Namely, the suspension of 125,000 ISIL-affiliated accounts since mid-2015, which is more in line with the limitations of free speech since mass murder is… yeah, at odds with free speech. But, in its effectiveness, opportunism is not far behind; lawmakers want more.