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The censor pen is always thicker. Here’s what we’ve learned so far from The Twitter Files.
The Twitter files are key revelations of what we assume happened on Twitter. What started as a content moderation system to stop child pornography has spiraled out of control and become a politically motivated censorship operation. Even the numbers of the Steele dossier fiasco were critically involved.
Elon Musk performed a public service in 2020 to release the documents behind Twitter’s decision on the Hunter Biden laptop story. They make it clear that Twitter employees have the power to do whatever they want with user content, and that they abused that power on flimsy grounds. .
NPR GOES SILENT ON TWITTER AFTER HUNTER BIDEN CALLS LAPTOP STORY WASTE OF TIME
The files show that Twitter staff censored calls to political figures. In 2020, a Biden campaign official could simply send a list of links, and a Twitter employee would respond with two words: “managed these.” Both sides could use this backdoor and submit requests to remove links from regular users and celebrities, but the documents show that one side went more the way.
The files reveal just how many ways the platform censors material: Twitter has moved from removing links to the original New York Post story on Hunter Biden’s laptop to outright blocking posts — the kind typically used to block the spread of child pornography. tool. Twitter has also restricted the visibility of similar stories.
It was the most drastic measure Twitter could take, and the files show their lax defenses. Employees have repeatedly mentioned the “compromised material” policy, but none have been able to provide a formal finding of hacking by law enforcement — proof that the policy typically requires. Some employees admitted that the situation was developing and that they needed more information as a situation, but they still advised to continue to intervene in the incident. They censored first, asked questions later.
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The absence of leadership from then-CEO Jack Dorsey in the files also shows the danger of letting staffers fumble with the censor’s pen. Dorsey has often championed the ideals of founding Twitter, which allowed people to create and share freely. But in practice, he abdicated the responsibility of freedom of speech to more politically minded leaders in the documents.
The mainstream media ignored or downplayed these revelations. A single New York Times article published a day after the files were released did not link to the files or provide screenshots of key documents. Most of the article discusses the reputation of the journalist who broke the story, not the story itself.
I hope Americans will see through the trickery of the media again. Attempts to paint the laptop story as Russian disinformation run counter to years of evidence. According to a recent Harvard CAPS/Harris poll, 59 percent of Americans, including half of Democrats, now believe the laptop is real. It should be over 90% – almost 40%, mostly Democrats, still believe in the Russian disinformation ploy. These voters are kept in the dark about the content.
I’m also cautiously optimistic that Musk can improve Twitter’s free speech policy. Revealing the evidence behind Twitter’s biggest censorship failure was a necessary first step. Musk showed us how irresponsibly Twitter is using the censor pen. Now it needs to put the hood back on and show how responsible content moderation can truly restore trust and confidence in a broken platform.
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