Behold the tweet sequence above from the Twitter user who calls himself “BullshitSquared,” who is all in a huff because Twitter’s bots flagged a content-free ad hominem joke tweet and he hasn’t had his privileges restored for a month. Now he’s quitting the platform. Good.
Musk has to somehow stop Twitter from becoming such a cesspool of obscenity, racism, sexism, homophobia, stupid comments and useless invective that nobody serious wants to hang out there. At the same time, he needs to avoid censoring content—actual opinions, facts, assertions and ideas. This sounds easy, but it is very hard. It might be impossible.
In this Comment of the Day, made yesterday by veteran EA commenter Glenn Logan, he alerts us to an arguably even scarier statement at the Twitter censorship hearings yesterday, pointing to Jonathan Turley’s horrified (the professor is always horrified in a restrained fashion, unlike me) reaction to both the statement and the Democratic approval of it. The entire day of testimony justifies the appearance of Geena above, and she was only warning about a single man gradually turning into a giant fly. We are watching our nation mutating into a repressive, totalitarian society that restrains and punishes independent thought.
How many of your friends would vote for the likes of Rep. Melanie Ann Stansbury (D., NM), whose response to the creepy statement Glenn writes about was “Exactly”? Or with former Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal’s statement that he pledged to regulate the platform’s content as “reflective of things that we believe lead to a healthier public conversation” and would “focus less on thinking about free speech” because “speech is easy on the internet. Most people can speak. Where our role is particularly emphasized is who can be heard”?
For all his weirdness, hypocrisy and Trumpish trolling, Elon Musk performed one of the most important acts in defense of democracy and America’s future in recent memory.
Jack wrote: Roth literally said that Twitter believed you have to destroy free speech in order to save it—and he didn’t even realize how Orwellian that is.
Indeed, but what really freaks me out (and only slightly hyperbolically) was the testimony of his fellow Twit, former Twitter executive Anika Coliler Navaroli at a House Oversight Committee hearing yesterday, which is analyzed by Jonathan Turley on his blog:
Navaroli said in response to a question from a Democratic member:
“Instead of asking just free speech versus safety to say free speech for whom and public safety for whom. So whose free expression are we protecting at the expense of whose safety and whose safety are we willing to allow to go the winds so that people can speak freely.”
“Unrestricted free speech, paradoxically, results in less speech, not more.”
—-Yoel Roth, the former head of Twitter’s Office of Trust and Safety, testifying before the the House Oversight Committee.
Imagine: Twitter had someone who thinks like that running its content review operation.
Free speech may result in less speech in a setting where participants are required to defend their positions and opinions, and cannot claim the comforting protection of an ideological echo chamber. Roth was unable to distinguish between manner of speech, which requires moderation, and censoring speech for content, which is what Twitter did to please and placate its progressive users.
First, Roth said that “Twitter found that users were unhappy with the company’s approach to content moderation and that this … dissatisfaction drove people away from the service. This has consequences for what we mean by free speech on social media.” Then he said, “Again and again, we saw the speech of a small number of abusive users drive away countless others.”
Which was it, abusive speech, or content? As we have learned from watching student-driven censorship on college campuses, speech that counters leftist cant and challenges progressive positions is “unsafe” and thus abusive. A free society must have free speech, and that means that members of that society need to learn to communicate and accept that the marketplace of ideas is challenging, intense, and even frightening.
Roth literally said that Twitter believed you have to destroy free speech in order to save it—and he didn’t even realize how Orwellian that is.
The last week has demonstrated clearly, I think we can all agree, that 1) there is an urgent need for Twitter to be de-politicized, stripped of partisan censorship, and become a trustworthy platform for the unfettered distribution of news, information and opinion to the public, and 2) Elon Musk is too much of a loose cannon to be the manager of Twitter’s reform.
Yesterday almost qualified as a meltdown, or a tantrum, or something. Maybe a joke. Who knows with him? He teased his withdrawal from the daily management of the reeling social media giant. He hinted that the company was teetering on bankruptcy. He put his continued tenure as CEO up for a vote, pledging to abide by the results.
Chaos. Musk is quite a bit like Donald Trump, which shouldn’t be surprising: the successful entrepreneur/ CEO/ autocrat/narcissist is a well-understood personality type, and management by chaos is a management style that can be very effective for the short term in a private company (but not the U.S. government). I worked for a chaos manager for seven years, and he was brilliant at it, but I decided then and there that I could never operate that way. It is hard on subordinates, employees and stake-holders; only the chaotic manager enjoys the pressure. It is a non-Golden Rule management style that relies entirely on utilitarianism as its ethical justification. Yes, the methods causes breakdowns, anxiety and constant crisis, but if it “works,” it’s worth the pain. That’s what Musk has been doing.
Twitter (aka Elon Musk) suspended the accounts of journalists from CNN, the New York Times, The Washington Post and other news sources yesterday, without warning and initially without giving any explanation.
Later last night, Musk tweeted, “Any account doxxing real-time location info of anyone will be suspended, as it is a physical safety violation. This includes posting links to sites with real-time location info. Posting locations someone traveled to on a slightly delayed basis isn’t a safety problem, so is ok.”
This morning, however, there was still confusion over whether all of those suspended had engaged in doxxing.
1. Wow. The mainstream media is really determined to die on this hill. It really believes that if it pretends that there is nothing sinister, undemocratic or dangerous about how a bunch of snotty, self-empowered progressives conspired—and succeeded!–to manipulate public opinion, access to information and public discourse to advance a partisan agenda, eventually everyone will forget about it as if it didn’t happen. This is exactly the approach it took with the Hunter Biden laptop story in the first place, and clearly, it has learned nothing and changed nothing. Bury, deny, and “It isn’t what it is” are still the tactics of choice. And they are certain that the public is, most of it anyway, lazy, apathetic, gullible and stupid.
That, they may be right about.
2. However, this unforgivable attempt to deny an important news event indicts the media as much as the Twitter files indict Twitter. I find it impossible to believe the virtually unanimous reaction to this story hasn’t been coordinated. Continue reading →
“Ultimately, the concerns about Twitter’s efforts to censor news about Hunter Biden’s laptop, blacklist disfavored views, and ban a president aren’t about the past choices of executives in a social media company. They’re about the power of a handful of people at a private company to influence the public discourse and democracy.”
I’ll have observations of my own tomorrow. For now, let me just post a readable version of the fifth Twitter stream to describe the unethical, destructive and despicable censorship and double standards that Twitter employees engaged in, a blatant and undeniable effort by people who had neither the acumen, judgment or objectivity to pursue their own agendas at the cost of open discussion, argument and dissent.
As before, you will have to go to the source to see the many fascinating attachments: Continue reading →
Just as Ethics Alarms was flagging the frantic efforts among the left-biased news media and others to deny the obvious and accurate implications of Twitter’s Hunter Biden laptop story censorship—the social media platform deliberately used its power to mislead the public and bolster Democrats— New York Times refugee Bari Weiss dropped the next metaphorical shoe, reporting on more newly released Twitter documents that show its pre-Elon Musk regime was “creating blacklists, preventing disfavored tweets from trending, and actively limiting the visibility of entire accounts or even trending topics—all in secret, without informing users” and all based on an anti-conservative, pro-progressive agenda.
Bari Weiss revealed her conclusions from studying the evidence sent to her by Twitter Avenger Elon Musk in a Twitter stream like the one employed by Matt Taibbi in the earlier revelations—you know, about how the Hunter Biden laptop facts were censored, which the New YorkTimes, Washington Post and the news networks shrugged off as “a nothingburger” because it was “old news,” Hunter Biden didn’t matter, and the laptop story wouldn’t have changed the result of the election anyway, so who cares if was censored by Twitter, and yes, them too?
I’ve never seen this before: the Ethics Alarms Ethics Hero of the Year making an Ethics Dunce of himself the same month I awarded him the honor. Depressing. Not entirely surprising in Elon Musk’s case, but depressing.
In the catalyzing development, Kanje West (or “Ye”) has set out to also make Ethics Alarms look foolish by awarding Donald Trump its 2022 “Asshole of the Year” award. West, who is disqualified from that distinction because he is clearly mentally ill, decided to visit Alex Jones and babble on about how much he liked Hitler, who had done some “good things.” Being roundly condemned for this revolting opinion wasn’t enough for the allegedly genius rapper: he then posted the design above on his recently restored Twitter account, a Nazi swastika entwined with the Star of Israel.
Quick like a bunny, Musk tweeted,
“I tried my best. Despite that, he again violated our rule against incitement to violence. Account will be suspended.”
I assume that Musk’s reaction was impulsive, because he constantly is impulsive. However, he had stated that he is a free-speech absolutist within reasonable parameters, and condemned the arbitrary, left-biased moderation policies of the previous Twitter regime. He did not “try his best”; Musk’s principles broke down the first time they were seriously challenged. West did not violate the rule against incitement to violence; in fact, I would not be surprised if he posted the ambiguous symbol to see if Musk could control himself. Continue reading →
Rick Wilson is the disgraced Republican operative who helped fund the corrupt Lincoln Project to undermine President Trump. His recent self-indicting tweet was another product of his Trump Derangement once Trump’s purely partisan banishment from Twitter was ended by its new CEO, Elon Musk. The argument that it does anything but constrict public discourse to block a former President and current political leader from using a social media platform is untenable on its face. Wilson’s amusing unmasking, however, was small potatoes compared to how the entire resistance/Democratic Party/mainstream media alliance has donned neon-blinking signs reading: “I’m a totalitarian and proud of it!” on their heads.
The tantrums over the prospect of an even playing field on Twitter have been voluminous, indeed too many to catalogue. The “clear and present danger”: conservatives, Republicans and objective critics of the Left’s agenda, policies and protected tribes will now have the same opportunity to engage on Twitter as their esteemed opponents have had for years. This is, we are being told in various levels of hysteria, a threat to democracy. After all, criticism of the Left’s pets and pet projects is hate speech; criticism by the Left of those conservative fascists is just warning the public. Accurate assertions that the Left finds inconvenient are “misinformation”—you know, like Hunter Biden’s laptop—while fake news and false assertions that demonize Republicans and conservatives are legitimate political speech.