Monday, February 20, 2017

#FreeMilo: Twitter’s Stance Against Freedom of Speech

photo by @Kmeron

#FreeMilo: Twitter’s Stance Against Freedom of Speech

Whether you’ve seen it or not, you at least know of the female Ghostbusters reboot that has hit theaters.  You probably also know about the divisiveness it’s created within the ranks of moviegoers.  Don’t worry though, this isn’t yet another review of the film, but a look at what it’s exposing in the social media landscape.
After writing a negative review on Ghostbusters, Breitbart’s tech editor, Milo Yiannopoulos, kicked off a Twitter firestorm between himself and the film’s star, Leslie Jones.  After receiving a slew of messages from haters, Jones fought back, retweeting the comments and singling out the trolls.  It was then that Milo joined the feud, reminding Jones that everyone gets hate mail.  

This spurred an argument between the two, which eventually resulted in Jones blocking Milo.  While Milo did throw some cheeky insults at Jones while defending his position, none of them compared to the death threats and racist remarks she received from the trolls.  Despite this, Milo was soon permanently banned on the grounds of violating Twitter’s abuse policy.  Since then, he’s been on the offensive, attacking the social platform for seemingly deporting him for no reason.
In a statement made on Breitbart, Milo said, “Twitter is holding me responsible for the actions of fans and trolls, using the special pretzel logic of the left.  Where are the Twitter police when Justin Bieber’s fans cut themselves on his behalf?”
Milo’s outspoken “cultural libertarian” view, which opposes the idea of culture as a corrupting influence, has been challenged by many liberal groups, including feminists, whom Twitter favors, argues Milo.  He said: “With the cowardly suspension of my account, Twitter has confirmed itself as a safe space for Muslim terrorists and Black Lives Matter extremists, but a no-go zone for conservatives.”
Milo isn’t the first user to be seemingly banned for his political affiliation.  Over the past year, Twitter has received a lot of backlash over the banning of conservative voices with little to no explanation.
Back in February, Robert Stacy McCain, a conservative journalist, also received a permanent ban from Twitter.  Known for his anti-leftist statements, it is still not known exactly what specific tweets got him banned.  Similar to Milo’s vague suspension, it’s impossible to tell which policy McCain is accused of violating, or which of his tweets were flagged as “abusive.”
When McCain fans protested the action and created the #FreeStacy hashtag, Twitter did another questionable thing.  They made it so that the hashtag would not autocomplete when people would type it in, despite the fact that it was trending.
Azalea Banks notoriously posted racist and homophobic remarks for years before she was permanently banned.  Milo points out that she spewed hate for years and went unchecked by Twitter.  It wasn’t until one of her tweeting tirades in which she endorsed Donald Trump for president that she was shortly banned afterward.
Whether or not you support Trump is not what’s important.  What is important to note is that Twitter has seemingly skewed its policy to reflect the opinions of conservatives as being “abusive.”  If they were doing their job and preventing real abuse, Azalea would’ve been thrown out years ago, and Leslie Jones would be answering for her own racist tweets like: “Lord have mercy…white people shit.”
Milo told Business Insider that Twitter attributes its growth problems from the so-called abuse and harassment.  Milo thinks otherwise: “I think the problem with Twitter is that they’re clamping down, and punishing, and now starting to step up bans on almost all of the interesting people.  Twitter is nothing without its content.  You don’t go there [for the product] because the product is terrible.  The product is counter-intuitive, it doesn’t pick up users.  It’s not intuitive like Facebook.  Ordinary people who log into Twitter just don’t understand how it works, which is why they have to shovel these recommended users at you so that you at least have something to interact with.”
Could Twitter’s ultimate downfall be the result of silencing diverse voices it doesn’t endorse?  Will they wake up and realize they’ve compromised the platform for free speech that they initially set out to create?  The writer of this article got rid of Twitter months ago and has no plans to return.

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