A libertarian website, curious as to how objectively Twitter enforces its standards, registered a complaint about the tweet on the left, and receiving the circled response, sent the tweet on the right, with Twitter responding to a complaint by banning the account.
How should fair, ethical people respond to this?
I do not see the website’s investigation, or this post, for that matter, as partisan or ideologically slanted in any way. A major social media platform used by government agencies, the President Elect, journalists, pundits, and news organizations as well as celebrities, scholars and average members of the public, has a duty commensurate with its power and influence. It can be politically biased and manipulative of public opinion, it can tilt its content to reflect particular interests, policies, cultural attitudes and agendas, but it is unethical for it to do so, particularly when it claims it does not do so.
This is smoking gun proof that Twitter is biased, censoring what it doesn’t like from people and groups it doesn’t like while allowing identical tweets from people and groups it feels an alliance to. It is a double standard. Now what?
Should fair, ethical people continue to use an organization that abuses its influence and trust like that? I use twitter, though only to send out links to Ethics Alarms posts. Am I ethically obligated to stop doing that? Should a non-left biased counterpart to Twitter take away half its business? Well, as we have learned from Fox News vs. the left-leaning mainstream media, competing media entities with off-setting biases still won’t supply what is needed, which is fair, trustworthy and reliable reporting.
Either both of the tweets above should be banned, or neither should have been. The Ethics Alarms position is that determining what is “hate speech” is such a slippery slope as to be ethically fatal, and Twitter’s history shows why. The platform was much applauded when it banned professional right wing troll Milo Yiannopoulos for cruelly abusing “Ghostbusters” actress Leslie Jones, leading others to attack her on Twitter as well. Yet how was this conduct any worse than what a Twitter mob did to Justine Sacco with no interference from Twitter at all?
The reaction to double standards should be non-partisan, gender and color neutral, and uniform across ideologies. As long as one group can see a contradiction like the one in the graphic above and react by saying, “Hey, I’m all right with it!,” anger, cynicism, bitterness, the loss of trust and the decay of justice will continue and increase.
Pointer: Tim Levier