Social media platform Twitter has expanded its policy of censorship of left of centre political comments. Goaded by false reports from professional complainants the platform removed many accounts that built up strong, large followings. Targets for censorship include activists who support the people of Palestine, critics of NATO’s contribution to the conflict in Ukraine, and socialists who dismember libertarian racketeer politics of capitalist client governments.
Complainants are, invariably, paid lackeys working for right-wing organisations; their complaints are couched in mendacious appeals to offence regarding language. It is an industry of censorship.
The process for twitter users who receive disciplinary action starts with a demand that a message (tweet), or more, be removed. That is not problematic but the key point is that “repeated” “violations” incur permanent removal. Professional complainants monitor users and make a series of complaints; their intent – the job they are paid to do – is to coerce the platform into erasure of particular political views.
Social media platforms are used productively by activists to pass on information, to share knowledge, to build solidarity and to educate. Governments, both authoritarian and “democratic,” and their employers, are aware of the success of cross-border, independent sharing of news, experiences and political analyses, and they want to stifle it.
The owners of the platforms try to balance their desire for ever-expanding profit (that, necessarily, requires ever-increasing number of users and a breadth of political opinions) against having relatively good relationships with governments in order to protect their business. Some platforms agreed readily to restrictions in certain (possibly described as “authoritarian“) countries. In other countries, notably USA and UK, governments covey the clear instruction that politically skewed self-censorship by the platforms must occur without force from government, or otherwise force will happen. Tory government’s Online Harms Bill is a culmination of several years of concoctions of “problems” with social media platforms in UK.
For users of a social media platform to discuss political issues, care is needed over language and on accuracy of statements. That is possible to do but professional complainants abuse the system of reporting and do so repeatedly. It’s important to know what can happen.
The dishonest culture of complaints about social media use sits beside the equally dishonest culture of complaints about “cancellation” of right-wing voices; it is the same thing but with appearance of being the opposite. A huge industry of promotion of libertarian philosophy indulges in constant whinging of denial of access when the reality is the proponents have disgustingly disproportionate access to the public arena. Complaining about “cancellation” is a career. The protagonists gather in groups, such as Free Speech Union, and harass public bodies to demand their grotesque opinions are forced down everyone’s throats. Tory government is assisting this via its Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill.
The battle for the right to speak, the battle for airtime, the battle for column inches, the battle for free speech online, are old battles, and tactics and strategy of engagement need continuous refinement. It is always necessary to be cognizant of your enemies’ motivation, methodologies and mendacity.
I received an admonishment from Twitter recently (July 1st 2022). I reproduce it here as an example.
(I’m just some old commie on Twitter. It is not important at all whether my access to the platform continues. However, for many people, their social media accounts are important.)
Today I received notice from twitter of a short suspension and a requirement to delete a message (tweet).
Clearly, my message, sent as a reply to deceptive nonsense from the Chancellor Of The Exchequer, is somewhat rude but does not “promote violence against” and does not reference “race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability or serious disease,” unless being a “gimp” is now a faith-based philosophy. If Gimpism is classified as faith then I apologise to all Gimpists worldwide and I would like to assure them that I have the utmost respect for the teachings of Gimpism, for its traditional attire and for its scared locks and chains and trunks.
As stated above, my access (or otherwise) to twitter is unimportant but the nature of the complaint about my message shows how anyone can be tagetted by the professional complainants when nothing problematic is posted.