In a week when any liberal-leaning tech giant CEO worth his salt has played "me-too" in their virtue-signaling to their cognoscenti by banning Alex Jones (and/or Infowars), Twitter's Jack Dorsey has - for now - stuck to merely 'shadowbanning' (or should we say "quality filtering") out the voice of the right.
Tonight Dorsey explained in a series of tweets and brief blog post:
"We didn’t suspend Alex Jones or Infowars yesterday. We know that’s hard for many but the reason is simple: he hasn’t violated our rules. We’ll enforce if he does. And we’ll continue to promote a healthy conversational environment by ensuring tweets aren’t artificially amplified."
Ironically, it is not the amplification of tweets that conservatives are worried about - it is the 'squelching' of that conversation, but do go on...
Truth is we’ve been terrible at explaining our decisions in the past. We’re fixing that. We’re going to hold Jones to the same standard we hold to every account, not taking one-off actions to make us feel good in the short term, and adding fuel to new conspiracy theories.— jack (@jack) August 8, 2018
If we succumb and simply react to outside pressure, rather than straightforward principles we enforce (and evolve) impartially regardless of political viewpoints, we become a service that’s constructed by our personal views that can swing in any direction. That’s not us.— jack (@jack) August 8, 2018
Accounts like Jones' can often sensationalize issues and spread unsubstantiated rumors, so it’s critical journalists document, validate, and refute such information directly so people can form their own opinions. This is what serves the public conversation best.— jack (@jack) August 8, 2018
Some of which sounds reasonable - "If we succumb and simply react to outside pressure, rather than straightforward principles we enforce (and evolve) impartially regardless of political viewpoints, we become a service that’s constructed by our personal views that can swing in any direction. That’s not us" - until of course you remember the 'caught in the act' shadowbanning that remains in place.
The Twitter Rules: A Living Document
Twitter is reflective of real conversations happening in the world and that sometimes includes perspectives that may be offensive, controversial, and/or bigoted. While we welcome everyone to express themselves on our service, we prohibit targeted behavior that harasses, threatens, or uses fear to silence the voices of others. We have the Twitter Rules in place to help ensure everyone feels safe expressing their beliefs and we strive to enforce them with uniform consistency.
Our policies and enforcement options evolve continuously to address emerging behaviors online and we sometimes come across instances where someone is reported for an incident that took place prior to that behavior being prohibited. In those instances, we will generally require the individual to delete the Tweet that violates the new rules but we won’t generally take other enforcement action against them (e.g. suspension). This is reflective of the fact that the Twitter Rules are a living document. We continue to expand and update both them and our enforcement options to respond to the changing contours of online conversation. This is how we make Twitter better for everyone.
We are continually working to update, refine, and improve both our enforcement and our policies, informed by in-depth research around trends in online behavior both on and off Twitter, feedback from the people who use Twitter, and input from a number of external entities, including members of our Trust & Safety Council.
A few examples of how our rules have changed:
In August 2013, we added a section explicitly prohibiting “targeted harassment” to the Twitter Rules under the “Abuse and Spam” category.
In December 2015, we added a separate “Abusive Behavior” section to the Twitter Rules.
In November 2016, we shared more details around hateful conduct and how we enforce policy violations.
Since then, we’ve updated the list of abusive behaviors we prohibit to include unwanted sexual advances, posting or sharing intimate photos or videos of someone that were produced or distributed without their consent, wishes or hopes of harm, and threats to expose or hack someone.
Last year we expanded hateful conduct and media policies to include abusive usernames and hateful imagery. We also updated rules around violence and physical harm to include the glorification of violence and violent extremist groups.
Similarly, our enforcement options have expanded significantly over the years. We originally had only one enforcement option: account suspension. Since then, we’ve added a range of enforcement actions and now have the ability to take action at the Tweet, Direct Message, and account levels. Additionally, we take measures to educate individuals that have violated our rules about the specific tweet(s) in violation and which policy has been violated. We also continue to improve the technology we use to prioritise reports that are most likely to violate our rules and last year we introduced smarter, more aggressive witness reporting to augment our approach.
Given the scale of Twitter, we will not always get it right. We believe we have to rely on a straight-forward principled approach and focus on the long term goal of understanding - not just in terms of the service itself - but in terms of the role we play in society and our wider responsibility to foster and better serve a healthy public conversation.
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We shall see just how much #boycottJack pressure, Dorsey gets after this - and just how long it will be before he 'bans' Alex Jones.
A quick glimpse at Twitter and it has started in anger...
HATE SPEECH IS NOT against Twitter rules? Since when? Spare us this pathetic attempt at spin, please. You made your bed, you're going to end up being as heavily regulated as Facebook if you don't stop letting trolls and hate speech fester.Bots DO artificially amplify his tweets.— Ale (@aliasvaughn) August 8, 2018
Awful awful decision. Alex Jones has harassed families whose children were murdered to the point some have had to move over 5x’s. Twitter rules need to change. Humanity is important. Please reconsider.— Annie M (@AnnieMendelsohn) August 8, 2018
your site's rules are incoherent and meaningless and it hasn't had a healthy conversational environment in years, unless you count verified users broadcasting genocidal threats to millions of followers— Katelyn Gadd (@antumbral) August 8, 2018
If Alex Jones and Infowars hasn’t violated your rules, then perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate your rules.— Liberal Cartoons (@LiberalCartoons) August 8, 2018
We did find one supportive tweet that seemed to sum everything up perfectly...
Well done @jack. Censorship is evil.— The Rational Walk (@rationalwalk) August 8, 2018