It’s no doubt that Twitter has devolved into an establishment-friendly censored platform in which right-leaning political thought is censored. The social media website was originally devised by its creators as a genuine free speech platform- a vision that was thrown to the winds when it became clear that open exchange of information was politically inconvenient to progressives.
A new study makes clear the extent to which the platform has gone to nuke conservative political expression in the past few years, under the leadership of Jack Dorsey. Columbia University academic Richard Hanania sought to document every suspension of a high profile-Twitter user since January.
Hanania identified 22 banned users who he categorized as influencers on the platform. Out of the 22, 21 were identified as known supporters of Donald Trump for President.
Only 1 high-profile liberal was identified as being (temporarily) banned- Rose McGowan. McGowan had been suspended after leaking someone’s private phone number, a clear violation of Twitter rules.
Hanania’s study only focused on widely followed accounts, and it’s likely that Twitter’s conservative-to-liberal suspension ratio would be even higher if his study documenting the site’s comprehensive ban policy.
Hanania noted that progressive Twitter users have escaped consequences for violating the platform’s terms of service. Examples included the New York Times’ Sarah Jeong, who was a source of embarrassment for the Times when her long track record of anti-white racial hatred surfaced shortly after being hired.
Jeong was never suspended, even though Twitter banned Candace Owens for facetiously repeating Jeong’s statements word-for-word towards other groups.
Another leading progressive to evade a Twitter ban was Kathy Griffin, who incited the public to doxx the identities of the falsely accused Covington Catholic boys.
Twitter’s mass implementation of censorship, which is applied in a far more punitive manner towards less prominent users of the platform, represents a fundamental shift from the original vision professed by the company. In 2012 a company executive had described Twitter as the “free speech wing of the free speech party.“
Such a description of the platform in 2019 is frankly laughable. But the evolution of the company’s approach towards political speech is a telling example of Silicon Valley’s mass institution of censorship after 2016- an approach adopted in the heat of a establishment panic following Donald Trump’s election.
In hindsight, the vision of a free speech platform was only possible in what’s called the “golden age of the internet,” a term used by critics of big tech to describe a period of time from 2000 to 2014 when major social media platforms were generally more accountable to users than major corporations and government.
The vision of a decentralized internet has largely disappeared over the past several years, replaced by a model in which progressives and liberals in the seats of power of major tech institutions feel they have no choice but to implement mass censorship to shield their political beliefs from criticism.
An example of this is the widespread shuttering of comment sections across online news outlets.
The transformation of the internet into a curated and patrolled zone poses major threats to democracy in America and in the West, broadly.
Should the attempt to shut down criticism of progressive ideals online fail, it’s possible that liberals could seek to shut down democracy itself as an alternative.
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