Earlier this week, a number of social media websites, who almost seemed to be acting in tandem, all decided to ban or block show host Alex Jones’ accounts almost at the exact same time and with almost the same basis for doing so. In a strange turn of events, the only common social media company that didn’t ban him was Twitter.
Apparently, Twitter employees were not happy that the company decided not to take him off of the social media website, and that the site did not join Facebook, YouTube, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and even Pinterest in banning him for ‘hate speech’ and other various claims of wrongdoing. Now, it appears that the company is preparing to take steps to allow them to target Jones and outspoken people like him in order to placate their employees. An employee tantrum has further forced them to consider policing conduct off-platform as well which is admittedly overreaching and wrong.
Twitter appears to be preparing multiple changes to the organizations’ speech policies, likely in response to a ‘backlash’ from employees who wanted to ban Alex Jones from the platform.
Twitter CEO and founder Jack Dorsey, responding to a critical tweet from an engineer for the social media site, said that he “wasn’t happy” with the website’s current policy and that he believed it needed to ‘evolve.’
Twitter vice president Del Harvey sent out a company-wide email yesterday which promised to accelerate efforts on the site to ‘crackdown’ on language that they believe is ‘dehumanizing’ in nature.
He suggested that this development came in the wake of internal conversations concerning Jones.
Harvey also noted that Twitter has plans to evaluate whether or not the company should be policing “off-platform behavior” or the way that their users act when they’re not online on the platform.
Dorsey also pointed out that the reason that Jones was still on the platform was a simple one. According to him, he hadn’t violated the rules.
The Twitter executive also said that if the company simply ‘succumbed’ and reacted to pressure from ‘outside’ of the company rather than developing new principles that they would enforce and evolve ‘impartially,’ then they would be a service that could “swing in any direction.”
Dorsey said that “that’s not us.”
Of course, it sounds like it absolutely is them, as the statements make it sound like the company is going to bow to its employees and ‘evolve’ its principles so they can do something about Alex Jones and other people who say things that they don’t like.
It certainly sounds like that is the kind of company that the employees are wishing to work for, one that will arbitrarily kick people off the platform because they don’t like what they have to say.
His explanation angered some of the employees who work for the social media platform, like engineer Marina Zhao, who said that it is wrong to ignore the “serious” real-world harm that the wrong views can cause.
Kenneth Kufluk, another engineer, said that he disagreed with his boss’ assessment that Jones had broken no policies and suggested in a public tweet that he had broken the company’s current policy on abuse and/or harassment.
Yet another engineer for the company, Mike Cvet, wrote that just because the policy is what it is now, that doesn’t mean that the company should be satisfied with it.
This isn’t to say that Alex Jones doesn’t say things that the average person would find absurd or insulting, or even offensive, such as claiming that the shooting in Sandy Hook was done with ‘crisis actors’ to push some sort of government agenda.
However, there’s a difference between being a conspiracy nut and being hateful.
While Twitter seems to be doing slightly better being even-handed with its policies where Jones is concerned (at least for now), that doesn’t mean that they’re as honest with how they utilize their ‘hate speech’ and similar policies on the platform.
For example, recently, Candace Owens, an African-American conservative, decided to quote a controversial hire at the New York Times, Sarah Jeong, who had a long history of writing things that many would easily consider ‘racist’ about white people.
However, Owens added her own twist; she replaced ‘white’ with the word ‘black’ or ‘Jewish.’
Somehow, the conservative Candace Owens ended up being suspended from Twitter on Sunday.
The social media platform reversed the suspension when it came to their attention and said that it was done in error.
Recently, in July of this year, Twitter punished four congressmen, shockingly all republicans who are part of the ‘Freedom Caucus,’ allegedly due to an algorithm that penalized them for having the wrong followers.
Also in July, they suspended conservative commentator Kathleen McKinley for her tweets, one of which opposed clearing self-identified transgender people for military service, the other which tied ‘honor killings’ to “extreme Muslim beliefs.”
The company never said that was done by accident nor did they apologize.
Perhaps even more terrifying is the idea that the social media company is even considered “off-platform” policing.
Based on what? Arrest records? Where users like to shop at? Where they like to go to church?
What possible criteria could they have for “off-platform” policing?
Frankly, it just sounds like another excuse to target people they don’t agree with.
Twitter has a chance to stand up for the right of people to state their opinions. Hopefully, they have a change of heart.