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Twitter's struggle with censorship

- Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The ability to quickly output a thought to thousands is a very powerful thing. It’s something Twitter has capitalized on for years. But many users have questioned the way that Twitter controls the content of its users. For some, this issue is reason enough to leave. Others have a business too strongly tied to Twitter, and still others simply find enough the social value from it.

Since Twitter is both a business and a platform, the questions of whether they have a right to both:

  • remove and keep the users they want based on their own rules
  • be protected from liability
is under debate. (The topic of social media outlets as “platform” or “publisher” is murky, but currently, they seem to get the rights of a platform.)
 
The issue is not going to fade silently away, though. A platform can’t please everyone, and in an age of instant food, one-day shipping and immediate access to information on the internet, people expect to have what they want. They don’t want to be inconvenienced or restricted, and that keeps content control on Twitter a relevant issue. The issue has more layers than that-social, political, and irrelevance of content, to name a few-but two clear stances have emerged around this issue.

Lack of Censorship

Some want Twitter to more strongly moderate, and remove more posts and individuals from the platform. People don’t much want to see posts or posters they don’t agree with (whether on opinions, rhetoric, or a personal level) on social media. The result for Twitter is that users associate their site with negative experiences-ones that often aren’t being addressed.

Ironically, Twitter is partially responsible for this issue, as social media has created a vast capacity for instant public outcry. This encourages an expectation from users that their demands-ranging everywhere between credible, questionable, and absurd-be heard, and heard quickly.

Free Speech Restriction

Despite user dissatisfaction over lack of censorship, many people feel that Twitter is too restrictive. Posts and users have been removed from the platform, and Twitter does not always explain these actions in detail. But speculation abounds, and often mentioned in this speculation is censorship based on political bias.

Whether Twitter is or isn't censoring because of political views, the perception that they do has caused many people to look for alternatives in the name of freedom of speech.

What does this mean for Twitter?

Even as this topic wages on, it seems too early for substantiated doomsday predictions and sensationalized headlines about failure. Twitter itself continues to roll, with hundreds of millions of users and large potential as a marketing and informational tool. This doesn’t stop Twitter alternatives from competing for users, though. Two platforms known specifically as “Twitter alternatives” that have risen to greater prominence than most are:

  • Gab.ai: a platform who says of themselves "A social network that champions free speech, individual liberty and the free flow of information online."
  • Mastadon: a platform who describes themselves as "an open source decentralized social network - by the people for the people.”

Your Social Media and Internet Presence

If you have questions about your social media marketing efforts, feel free to give us a call or stop by our Snohomish office. We help clients with a variety of digital business efforts, including website development, email marketing, social media, and search engine optimization.


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