27 May 2021 Twitter Promises to Be Transparent When It Censors Conservatives
Washington, D.C. – While maintaining that Twitter is unbiased, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey nevertheless promised today to be more transparent about why conservatives are routinely disciplined on his social media platform.
I’m Scott Shepard with the National Center for Public Policy Research.
Twitter regularly discriminates against customers who express center/right positions. Just a couple recent examples: Many users were suspended or banned on the false grounds that they had incited the January 6th intrusion into the Capitol, but you allow leaders of terrorist regimes as well as anonymous users to celebrate genuine, deadly attacks on Israel. You permit, without comment or response, LeBron James to threaten and stoke violence toward a police officer against whom no charges of wrongdoing had been laid. You suspended James O’Keefe for posting a video that simply recorded a CNN producer admitting the network’s bias, poor journalistic practices and efforts to stir up racial division, but you said that it was fine for users to describe a Syrian Muslim shooter in Colorado as a “white Christian terrorist.”
As long as you remain the only game in town, you are obliged by law to act as a common carrier, treating all customers with objective equality. Since you won’t do that, will you call on your fellow tech companies to stop thwarting competitors to Twitter, or will you instead acknowledge that it’s time for the federal government to institute antitrust action against you?
Dodging Shepard’s specific examples, Twitter moderators condensed the question to: “Why do you continue to censor only on the conservative side?”
We have no bias in any of our policies, in our enforcement, in our machine-learning algorithms. If we ever find anything even hinting at that, we look at it immediately and rectify it. If we make any mistakes along the way, we admit to them and correct them.
And I think the most important thing that we can do always is be more transparent with how our rules work, how our enforcements have taken place, and not just to the person directly but ultimately for anyone who happens to be looking at the actions. People should know why we took an action or why we didn’t take an action. Sometimes there might be assumptions around a particular content that we took action on, but underneath there might be other things going on, like manipulation of the network or spam-like activities or accounts manipulation, that we have to take action on as well.
So, we’re gonna do a better job at making sure that these are transparent so that people see that there is no bias in our action, and we’re going to make sure that we have a much more robust appeals process, so that when we do get things wrong, people can appeal the decision and we can correct it.”
After the meeting, Shepard responded:
Twitter’s treatment of our question is hilarious: it stealth-edited out of the question the factual demonstrations of bias against conservatives so that Dorsey could airily assert that Twitter doesn’t do exactly what it did to the question he was answering.
There’s no question that Jack and Twitter discriminate massively and constantly against conservatives and libertarians, and did so even in the manipulation of our question. This renders Jack’s falsehoods about nondiscrimination the most patent and embarrassing sort of nonsense.
But after the nonsense he did clearly and objectively promise to the company’s shareholders that Twitter would be more transparent about what it’s doing, with clear explanations and appeals processes. Now, since Jack and Twitter lied even in its repackaging of our question, and lied about Twitter’s aggressive discrimination against center/right thought, this transparency and these appeals boards are likely themselves to be biased from the jump. But now Dorsey and Twitter have acknowledged, however obliquely, that something is very wrong and needs real fixes.
All of this illustrates that aggressive, insistent pressure from those of us in the center and on the right can make a difference, even in a den of discrimination and hate like Twitter. Let’s hold Dorsey and the company to its promises, and let’s work at every level to write into law prohibitions against viewpoint discrimination by monster companies like Twitter.
FEP Associate Davis Soderberg, who also attended today’s meeting, added:
Well, you heard it here first. Dorsey just made two lofty promises: transparency regarding accounts that are censored, and a more robust appeals process for anyone who feels they have been unfairly disciplined.
The question remains: Will Dorsey walk the walk, or continue to talk as if there isn’t a biased bone in his body? Based on his history, conservatives should be skeptical and keep a close eye on his actions going forward. Promises like these must be kept, and it is about time that he steps up to the plate to address the lack of transparency regarding Twitter’s censorship practices.
Adding to conservatives’ already existing skepticism, Dorsey doubled down on claims that Twitter has no bias against conservatives. Yet there are many reasons conservatives should be hesitant to accept this notion. To start, as our original question pointed out, Twitter had a quick trigger finger in kicking the former president of the United States off the platform, but has taken no action against Imam Sayyid Ali Khamenei, Iran’s leader, whose tweet calling for the eradication of Israel remains on the platform. Additionally, a Media Research Center study revealed that Trump was censored at least 65 times by Twitter and Facebook during the election cycle of 2020, while Joe Biden wasn’t censored once. Maybe Jack should start by being transparent about that.
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