Why Twitter can’t crack down on white supremacists…

… because if they did that consistently, they’d have to ban some Republican officeholders?

From the Interface article:

In Motherboard today, Joseph Cox and Jason Koebler talk with an employee who says Twitter has declined to implement an algorithmic solution to white nationalism because doing so would disproportionately affect Republicans.

steve-king-tweetCasey Newton questions this, pointing out that the idea of an algorithm that could accurate detect white nationalists is unlikely; there’s a lot more nuance in a lot of the language and imagery that it would likely miss. I think he’s right; perhaps Twitter’s concern is that it would have to deploy human beings, who would have to make choices which Twitter would have to defend.

Which would almost certainly banning some GOP politicians, because they are all over that white nationalism like flies on shit. I don’t think banning them would be a bug in the system. I’m sure Twitter is afraid of being accused of favoring one party over another, but so what? If you’re favoring one party because the other keeps posting crazy racist bullshit, and you’re using a well-thought-out policy to make the calls, that’s just how it is.

And it could remove tweets that incite violence against elected officials — yes, even when those tweets come from a sitting president. The bar ought to remain high — I’m sympathetic to the idea that some borderline posts should be preserved for their newsworthiness. But Rep. Ilhan Omer deserves more than a consolation phone call from Jack Dorsey for his decision to leave the president’s tweet up. There should be no shame in removing tweets on a case-by-case basis when they inspire very real death threats against an elected official. Otherwise, what’s a hateful conduct policy even for?

When services like Twitter and Facebook were dreamed up, I don’t think the founders ever thought that human beings would to have to manage the content posted there in any meaningful way. That’s why we get really terrible automated solutions like copyright violation detection that any idiot can use as a weapon to automatically remove content they don’t like.

But you get what you pay for, and our friendly tech giants are paying for really terrible management of their content with legal loopholes to remove any liability for it. The good thing about that is a really dynamic world of content and the birth of cat videos as a genre. The downside is incels, white nationalist playgrounds, post-factual politics, and Donald Trump.

Is it a good deal for the public? That’s the billion dollar question.

 

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