Twitter’s Restraint of Conservative Speech Is Why It Is Failing
As Breitbart News has warned would happen after Obama bundler Chris Sacca led a Board of Directors coup last June to oust popular CEO Dick Costolo and muzzle conservative free speech, Twitter announced that their core users declined in late 2015.
Facebook’s War on Freedom of Speech
- Facebook is now removing speech that presumably almost everybody might decide is racist — along with speech that only someone at Facebook decides is “racist.”
- The sinister reality of a society in which the expression of majority opinion is being turned into a crime has already been seen across Europe. Just last week came reports of Dutch citizens being visited by the police and warned about posting anti-mass-immigration sentiments on social media.
- In lieu of violence, speech is one of the best ways for people to vent their feelings and frustrations. Remove the right to speak about your frustrations and only violence is left.
- The lid is being put on the pressure cooker at precisely the moment that the heat is being turned up. A true “initiative for civil courage” would explain to both Merkel and Zuckerberg that their policy can have only one possible result.
It was only a few weeks ago that Facebook was forced to back down when caught permitting anti-Israel postings, but censoring equivalent anti-Palestinian postings.
Now one of the most sinister stories of the past year was hardly even reported. In September, German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook at a UN development summit in New York. As they sat down, Chancellor Merkel’s microphone, still on, recorded Merkel asking Zuckerberg what could be done to stop anti-immigration postings being written on Facebook. She asked if it was something he was working on, and he assured her it was.
At the time, perhaps the most revealing aspect of this exchange was that the German Chancellor — at the very moment that her country was going through one of the most significant events in its post-war history — should have been spending any time worrying about how to stop public dislike of her policies being vented on social media. But now it appears that the discussion yielded consequential results.
Last month, Facebook launched what it called an “Initiative for civil courage online,” the aim of which, it claims, is to remove “hate speech” from Facebook — specifically by removing comments that “promote xenophobia.” Facebook is working with a unit of the publisher Bertelsmann, which aims to identify and then erase “racist” posts from the site. The work is intended particularly to focus on Facebook users in Germany. At the launch of the new initiative, Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, explained that, “Hate speech has no place in our society — not even on the internet.” She went to say that, “Facebook is not a place for the dissemination of hate speech or incitement to violence.” Of course, Facebook can do what it likes on its own website. What is troubling is what this organization of effort and muddled thinking reveals about what is going on in Europe.
The mass movement of millions of people — from across Africa, the Middle East and further afield — into Europe has happened in record time and is a huge event in its history. As events in Paris, Cologne and Sweden have shown, it is also by no means a series of events only with positive connotations.
As well as being fearful of the security implications of allowing in millions of people whose identities, beliefs and intentions are unknown and — in such large numbers — unknowable, many Europeans are deeply concerned that this movement heralds an irreversible alteration in the fabric of their society. Many Europeans do not want to become a melting pot for the Middle East and Africa, but want to retain something of their own identities and traditions. Apparently, it is not just a minority who feel concern about this. Poll after poll shows a significant majority of the public in each and every European country opposed to immigration at anything like the current rate.
The sinister thing about what Facebook is doing is that it is now removing speech that presumably almost everybody might consider racist — along with speech that only someone at Facebook decides is “racist.”
And it just so happens to turn out that, lo and behold, this idea of “racist” speech appears to include anything critical of the EU’s current catastrophic immigration policy.
By deciding that “xenophobic” comment in reaction to the crisis is also “racist,” Facebook has made the view of the majority of the European people (who, it must be stressed, are opposed to Chancellor Merkel’s policies) into “racist” views, and so is condemning the majority of Europeans as “racist.” This is a policy that will do its part in pushing Europe into a disastrous future.
Because even if some of the speech Facebook is so scared of is in some way “xenophobic,” there are deep questions as to why such speech should be banned. In lieu of violence, speech is one of the best ways for people to vent their feelings and frustrations. Remove the right to speak about your frustrations, and only violence is left. Weimar Germany — to give just one example — was replete with hate-speech laws intended to limit speech the state did not like. These laws did nothing whatsoever to limit the rise of extremism; it only made martyrs out of those it pursued, and persuaded an even larger number of people that the time for talking was over.
The sinister reality of a society in which the expression of majority opinion is being turned into a crime has already been seen across Europe. Just last week, reports from the Netherlands told of Dutch citizens being visited by the police and warned about posting anti-mass-immigration sentiments on Twitter and other social media.
In this toxic mix, Facebook has now — knowingly or unknowingly — played its part. The lid is being put on the pressure cooker at precisely the moment that the heat is being turned up. A true “initiative for civil courage” would explain to both Merkel and Zuckerberg that their policy can have only one possible result.
Douglas Murray, a British writer, journalist and commentator, is based in London, England.
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Twitter story continued:
As Twitter fessed up in their fourth quarter 2015 earnings report, the company did not add any new users from October through December 2015. Twitter may boast they have 320 million total users, but their core users, excluding people who receive tweets via text message, actually declined over the quarter to 305 million from 307 million.
With analysts predicting a 3 million core user gain, the stock tanked by 13 percent in after-hours trading to a new low of $13.31, down 64 percent since announcing Costolo was leaving. Although the company did earn $710 million in revenue for the fourth quarter, they expect that number to fall back to between $595 million and $610 million in the first three months of 2016.
Costolo’s “Abusive Behavior Policy” was the fairness-in-social-media gold standard, by allowing users to post content, including potentially inflammatory content, in chronological timelines as long as they did not violate the unbiased Twitter Rules and Terms of Service.
Despite being headquartered in the People’s Republic of San Francisco, Costolo had won praise for user growth and not knuckling under to leftist thought police. The ability to capture a wide spectrum of users was credited with making Twitter the #3 most popular social media company with revenue growth at a 74 percent rate in early 2015.
Doubling down on corporate bias against conservatives and libertarians, the company on February 9 announced their own version of George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth with the formation of the Twitter Trust & Safety Council, “to strike the right balance between fighting abuse and speaking truth to power.”
In making sure the Council reflected the values of Social Justice Warriors that now dominate Silicon Valley, Twitter appointed 40 “grassroots advocacy organizations” and “experts from 13 regions” to fight micro-aggressions on the web. The list of thought police organizations includes such leftists’ icons as Beyond Blue, Feminist Frequency, and GLAAD. These groups are dedicated to constraining and retaliating against conservative’s free speech.
Twitter also unveiled a new “timeline” that will surface tweets that Twitter and its thought police recommend, rather than the straight-forward chronological timeline. An earlier leak of the new policy by BuzzFeed caused a Twitter revolt under the hastag #RIPTwitter, as many active users fear censorship and more spam.
The company says the new “algorithmic timeline” is supposed to make users’ feeds more interesting. Besides being a leftist nanny, the algorithmic timeline is meant to encourage users to digest more ads. This may help a short-term revenue spike during the current election campaigns, but it will anger their social media user base and cause lots of people to tweet out.
Twitters’ doubling down on what isn’t working is why the company has become so irrelevant compared to Facebook as a business-to-customer portal for users and a business emporium to those businesses seeking direct engagement of potential customers.
The early Facebook website was built to connect with your college friends. Eventually, this went global and gave Facebook a spectacular database of very specific and actionable information, which opened the door for businesses to use highly “targeted” advertising.
Facebook has spread free speech by acquiring diverse channels that include Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Together, this network is still growing fast and has 1.6 billion Facebook monthly active users (MAUs), 1 billion WhatsApp MAUs, 800,000 Messenger MAUs, and 400,000 Instagram MAUs. Together that equals 4 billion.
Twitter, by comparison, only has 305 million MAUs, and they are working hard to drive the number down with changes in the timeline and the nanny Twitter Trust & Safety Council.