90 Miles From Tyranny : Twitter Summons “The Birdwatchers” In Expanding Stasi-like Campaign Against “Misinformation”

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Twitter Summons “The Birdwatchers” In Expanding Stasi-like Campaign Against “Misinformation”

With much fanfare (and catchy background music) Twitter has launched the Birdwatch program, a platform that seeks to enlist the “community” to identify and comment on misinformation contained in tweets. The company will initially select 1,000 such “Birdwatchers” in its monitoring of information exchanged on its once neutral platform. Not surprisingly, many of us are not thrilled by the program. While the programs does not allow direct removal of tweets, it is clearly designed to flag tweets that the majority views as misleading. That can then be used by Twitter to further support its expanding censorship of information on the Internet.

The selected Birdwatchers will at least initially post on a public Birdwatch website as opposed to the targeted twitter account.

Adding a “community-based” system is little improvement over a purely “corporate-based” system of censorship. Twitter still maintains that it will regulate speech and this new platform effectively invites the community to help identify those tweets worthy of being flagged for possible removal or bans. The program will also likely encourage campaigns to add such flags on the Birdwatch site in order to pressure Twitter to ban opposing viewpoints. It is not clear who will watch the Birdwatchers in that sense.

The suspicion that this system is meant to enhance Twitter’s censorship policies is hard to avoid. After all, Twitter users can already flag what they view as misinformation by responding directly to a Tweet or using their own account to do so. This is an effort to build a consensus in a community that could be used to support the company in what is rumored to be plans for “much bigger” moves on speech regulation. Many critics are not satisfied with being able to respond to opposing viewpoints with their own views. They want to silence opposing viewpoints and control information exchange. Just recently, former Facebook executive Alex Stamos told CNN’s Brian Stelter that we must find new ways to cut off “conservative influencers” including cable news: “We have to turn down the capability of these Conservative influencers to reach these huge audiences… There are people on YouTube for example that have a larger audience than daytime CNN.”

For free speech advocates, the use of such community-based systems is a familiar method of speech curtailment and controls. Popular speech does not need protection. The key to free speech is the protection of speech that a community or the majority does not favor.

Notably, when Dorsey appeared before the Senate to apologize for the blackout on the Hunter Biden scandal before the election as a mistake, Democratic senators demanded more censorship. Dorsey agreed that “misleading information, as you are aware, is a large problem. It’s hard to define it completely and cohesively.” Instead of then raising concerns over censoring views and comments on the basis for such an amorphous category, Senator Chris Coons pressed him to expand the categories of censored material to prevent people from sharing any views that he considers “climate denialism.”
One of the loudest voices for censorship has been Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal who seemed to take the opposite meaning from Twitter admitting that it was wrong to censor the Biden story. Blumenthal said that he was “concerned that both of your companies are, in fact, backsliding or retrenching, that you are failing to take action against dangerous disinformation.” Accordingly, he demanded an answer to this question:

“Will you commit to the same kind of robust content modification playbook in this coming election, including fact checking, labeling, reducing the spread of misinformation, and other steps, even for politicians in the runoff elections ahead?”
“Robust content modification” has a certain Orwellian feel to it. It is not content modification. It is censorship. If the Democratic party is going crackdown on free speech, it should admit to being the party of censorship and...

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  1. Can you say Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution boys and girls?

  2. Dick is a disgusting worm. While I don't wish he was dead, I will not be sad to read of his passing and his subsequent decent into Hell.

  3. Will "Birdwatchers" be required to wear brown shirts and high black boots while identifying bad tweets? Asking for a friend.


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