July 03, 2012

Last week I wrote about Facebook, censorship, and the danger of relying upon these supersized social-media conglomerates to get your message out, particularly if that message is deemed “€œoffensive”€ (i.e., “€œconservative”€).

Now, according to one report, Facebook’s rival Twitter is “€œpreparing to introduce new measures to reduce the visibility of “€˜hate speech.”€™”€

For a company ostensibly in the communication business, Twitter’s public utterances can be head-scratchers. One longs for the rise of a Twitterologist in the tradition of the Kremlinologists of the past and the Vaticanologists of the present.

So the Financial Times“€™ interview with Twitter CEO Dick Costolo contained more “€œbuts”€ than a gonzo porn shoot. Costolo insists his company’s mantra will remain “€œTweets must flow,”€ but he wants to tamp down the abuse that UK celebrities supposedly suffer at the hands of anonymous stalkers and “€œtrolls.”€

This First World problem is apparently so pervasive and corrosive that the government’s new defamation law may include a troll-tracking provision.

“€œTwitter’s principles about “€˜hate speech”€™ and politics seem to default to whatever the latest “€˜progressive”€™ fad happens to be.”€

(This is the same country where an actor sued a journalist who described him as “€œhideously ugly“€”€”and won. A country in which performers such as Rowan Atkinson, John Lydon, and the Carry On crew are among its few remaining exports.)

Here’s another “€œbut”€: Costolo says he doesn”€™t want these troll-tracking measures to accidentally curtail anonymous Tweeting by “€œArab Spring”€-type political dissidents.

Naturally, he has no idea how to make all of these things happen simultaneously on the platform he’s constructed”€”one that was never designed to hold so much weight.

What happens if, for example, celebrities are being subjected to “€œhate speech”€ not by anonymous British trolls, but by other celebrities? What if that “€œhate speech”€ has an arguably political flavor?

Comedian Louis C.K. can “€œdrunk Tweet”€ to his thousands of followers about Sarah Palin’s surprisingly fascinating vagina without consequences. In theory, under the new Costolo/UK libel dispensation, the comedy star should be subject to the same punishment”€”a lifetime Twitter ban?”€”as any anonymous troll. Yet the very thought of every hipster’s favorite standup being banned from Twitter is laughable.

Meet one Russell Barth, a Canadian leftist whose self-penned Twitter profile is impossible to improve upon:

Medical Marijuana License Holder, multi-disciplinary artist, writer, activist, public speaker. Fibromyalgia, PTSD, wife with epilepsy. Need social justice.


Sign Up to Receive Our Latest Updates!