A Twitter executive was asked why, since they’ve been successful at eliminating Islamic State propaganda from the platform, they can’t likewise eliminate white nationalist propaganda. He delivered the answer I expected.
With every sort of content filter, there is a tradeoff, he explained. When a platform aggressively enforces against ISIS content, for instance, it can also flag innocent accounts as well, such as Arabic language broadcasters. Society, in general, accepts the benefit of banning ISIS for inconveniencing some others, he said.
In separate discussions verified by Motherboard, that employee said Twitter hasn’t taken the same aggressive approach to white supremacist content because the collateral accounts that are impacted can, in some instances, be Republican politicians.
I think I could accept the benefit of banning white nationalists at the expense of inconveniencing a few Republican politicians. Seems like a reasonable tradeoff.
The algorithm will be a bitch to write, when there’s no actual difference.
WMDKitty -- Survivor says
Gosh, if they don’t want to be mistaken for Nazi scum, maybe they should stop spouting Nazi (and white supremacist) talking points…
consciousness razor says
So, Republicans and Nazis are the ones playing the imitation game, but our programs have trouble sorting them out sometimes.
I’m not sure this is really what Turing had in mind…..
Akira MacKenzie says
But how would their constituents know that they still support them?
Agree wholeheartedly, but I don’t think this goes far enough. I think platforms like Twitter should bad anti-Semitic and communist content as well. They alone were responsible for how many millions of deaths in the twentieth century? Over a hundred million?
Just banning white supremacy alone won’t get the job done, in my opinion.
Great American Satan says
i almost bit, teejay. i should really get wise.
Akira MacKenzie says
teejay @ 4
blockquote> I think platforms like Twitter should bad anti-Semitic and communist content as well.
Define anti-Semitic. Are we talking about the denigration of Jews in general, or does it just mean anyone who points out Israel and it’s current government is a violent, racist, theocratic, apartheid state?
Also, Define “communist,” and why should they be blocked? Are you seriously equating anti-capitalism and Marxism with white supremacy? Or is this just “whataboutism.”
Akira MacKenzie says
Sorry for the HTML fail.
Rob Grigjanis says
teejay @4: Ooh, fun game. Let’s add capitalists, imperialists, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, physicists, chemists and biologists. Oh, and hippopotamuses. Nasty fuckers, them.
“Oh, and hippopotamuses.”
Also Hypotenuses, since those were a foreign (non-USA) invention/discovery. Is TJ an abbreviation for The Jerk? Inquiring minds want to know!
Being anti-Nazi wasn’t enough either. The US Army tried to enforce segregation in England in WWII. Black American soldiers came back to Jim Crow.
Brian Pansky says
I thought algorithms couldn’t be racist?!? (sarcasm)
Gosh, I can’t imagine how anyone could mistake a GOP Senator for a white supremacist.
@ teejay, #4
Capitalist content as well, if we’re going to go by sheer body count. Every worker who died because unsafe working conditions at a for-profit company, every person murdered to bolster profits, every person who dies of treatable disease who is denied care because they aren’t wealthy, every person who starves because it’s not “cost-effective” to send excess food to their part of the world, every person poisoned by polluting corporations, all those who died in coups orchestrated by capitalism’s bully-men; the list goes on and on.
Twitter should absolutely ban white supremacists. There is nothing redeemable in their philosophy. They can ban the Stalinists and Maoists too, as far as I’m concerned, but do not conflate those groups with the whole of communist thought. Let’s throw in the acolytes of the likes of Milton Friedman, too; their body count may be a bit harder to calculate, but it’s a safe bet that they’ve long since surpassed the fans of Stalin or Mao.
deepak shetty says
The issue for Twitter is not few , it would be “most” Republican politicians.
Why don’t we just ban Twitter?
“Also, Define “communist,” and why should they be blocked? Are you seriously equating anti-capitalism and Marxism with white supremacy?“
My blockquotes have failed as well.
I’m not equating anything with white supremacy. I’m saying that, in addition to banning white supremacist content on Twitter, that platform should also ban other obviously odious ideas. PZ isn’t concerned with the few innocents who might get swept up in a blanket ban of white supremacist rhetoric. And we shouldn’t be concerned that a few well meaning people might get swept up in a blanket ban of anti-Semitic or Communist terms, either. Just think of the alternative. I mean, each of those ideas are quite literally responsible for the murders of millions of people. Why should anyone should be allowed to even talk around the fringes of horribly dangerous ideas like white supremacy, anti-Semitism, or Communism, especially on a private platform like Twitter where there aren’t any first Amendment/free speech concerns.
WMDKitty -- Survivor says
Well, “teejay” is a moron, clearly.
tj here is a little ditty that covers my considered response to all your post this on more so. the second verse most clearly.
Marx thought that communism would eventually emerge naturally.
Lenin thought “screw that, we need a few people to take over and enforce communism NOW”, in fact, Stalin called his ideology “Marxism-Leninism”.
I’m sure you see how the approach would fuck things up royally no matter the ideology that one is trying to violently enforce.
The horrors that followed have been largely caused by breaking away from his ideas.
We don’t know if Marx’s communism would have been good or bad, because Stalin and Mao’s experiments failed in large part due to things that are not what Marx advocated.
Today, the majority of people who view favourably Marx’s communism are horrified by the likes of Stalin and Mao.
On the contrary, most of the modern white nationalism are following nazi and fascist ideology by the letter, joke online about gassing k*kes and Hitler and Mussolini’s paraphernalia are common.
There is also another, fundamental difference.
In nativist and racist ideologies, the enemy is an enemy for something they ARE.
If you are a Jew, the only way to satisfy the ideology is to die, because the ideology is inherently murderous.
In communism, the enemy is an enemy for something they DO (ie, exploit workers).
If you are a capitalist, you can appease the ideology by losing your capital, the ideology can be fulfilled without murdering anyone.
If the people who decide to enforce the ideology also decide to murder all “capitalists”, they are not doing so because the ideology requires it.
Anton Mates says
In other words, “society in general” values the speech of Republican politicians more highly than it values the speech of Arabic language broadcasters. That tells you something about how this Twitter employee chooses to define “society.”
Always remember that Twitter is perfectly able to ban the worst of fascist propaganda easily in countries where they’re legally enforced to do so. There’s a great many “this account/message has been withheld due to laws in Germany” messages for me and none of them are porn.
Libertarians… what are ya gonna do
Not porn to you. I’m sure that there are quite a few Nazi(-fan)s that derive some sexual pleasure from at least some such messages.
Andy Geth says
White supremacists and Republican politicians. Isn’t the Venn diagram for those 2 groups just a circle?
Akira MacKenzie says
Teejay @ 16
So, in short, “whataboutism.”
Curious Digressions says
Ok, who lit the candles, spun in a circle, and chanted, “anti-capitalism” three times to summon Teejay?
The problem with the top-down approach to instituting communism is that the plan looks like this:
1. The government confiscated all private property.
3. Resources are evenly distributed and all enjoy the worker’s paradise.
In reality it goes more like this:
1. The government confiscates all private property – so far so good.
2. The people in power who have access to the property hoard it – hmmm, not so good, but predictable consequence of human nature.
3. The people who lost their stuff and aren’t given anything in return are angry – reasonable.
4. People protest/ make demands – also reasonable.
5. The government institutes harsh repressive policies to keep order and maintain their privileged status – crummy, but also human nature.
6. The people, who are now broke, hungry, and angry, comply with government requirements (providing labor, resources) as sullenly and passive-aggressively as possible.
7. The government institutes more authoritarian regulations onto less compliant citizens.
8. The economy collapses because all of the wealth is hoarded and no one is willing to work for nothing in return.
It’s not communism that’s the problem. Is those darned greedy buggers who keep hoarding resources. You know, that’s (one of) the problems with capitalism too.
Seriously I think the biggest problem with twitter is that it favours non reflective, reactive output. At the same time conversations fragment and its easy to avoid what you don’t want to hear. Its hard fir there to be effective dissent. Thats what makes banning speech types thinkable, rather than the idea of thrashing them with diss ernting voices. So we get thrown back on the age old problem of who guards the guard and what powers do you give them. Imagine Rupert Murdoch being in charge of Twitter.
Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says
@everyone who is not named teejay:
Obviously teejay is a multi-issue idiot. For the seventy-millionth time, “first amendment concerns” is not synonymous with “free speech concerns”. Among many, many other problems with this simplistic equation of disparate categories, “free speech” don’t give a fuck if the US government establishes a religion. The 1stA does.
There are no first amendment concerns with a private company. There are some free speech concerns, though I don’t think that there’s a compelling justification for government regulation of Twitter’s policies. Instead I advocate that individuals use their freedom of choice to boycott Twitter unless and until Twitter’s policies and followthrough both improve … and possibly for longer than that.
And with that, twitter officially endorses white supremacy- there is really no other way to interpret this.
Buzz Parsec says
Brian @11: “Algorithm” is an Arabic word. Jes’ sayin’.
Curious @26: You forgot 7a. The beatings will continue until morale improves.
Frankly, this matter is best left to the crafting of appropriate legislation, which enables those injured by such extremists to litigate against platforms that radicalized them, supported their radicalization, fanned the flames and triggered them to commit an atrocity.
Once proven, by preponderance of evidence, the responsibility of said platform, the jury gets to award punitive damages.
Trust me, they’ll filter that crap out in a New York minute, once the first multi-million dollar award is announced by the jury.
Oh, such legislation is to also state that it is unlawful for any jurist to lower such an award, as the people have indeed spoken.
One serious threat to their bottom line and worse, bankrupting the company and said legislation prohibits bankruptcy as a protection, they’ll discover how regular expressions work and all manner of logic to filter that crap quite reliably.