(National Sentinel) First Amendment: An executive at Twitter, the free-speech social media platform, says that standing up for everyone’s right to speak freely and say what they want is “no longer possible.”
Speaking to British politicians, Sinead McSweeney, Twitter’s European vice president for public policy and communications, said it is “no longer possible to stand up for all speech” just five years after a different company executive described Twitter as the “free speech wing of the free speech party.”
“I look back over last five-and-a-half years, and the answers I would have given to some of these questions five years ago were very different,” McSweeney said, according to Business Insider.
“Twitter was in a place where it believed the most effective antidote to bad speech was good speech. It was very much a John Stuart Mill-style philosophy. We’ve realized the world we live in has changed,” he added.
Tony Wang, then-general manager of Twitter’s operations in the U.K., gave a completely different account when describing the company in 2012.
“Generally, we remain neutral as to the content because our general council and CEO like to say that we are the free speech wing of the free speech party,” he told The Guardian.
But McSweeney’s comments seem more in line with actual Twitter policy these days.
On Monday Twitter announced it would crack down even harder on “hateful conduct and abusive behavior” through a restructuring of policy to cover a wider range of content.
“Specific threats of violence or wishing for serious physical harm, death, or disease to an individual or group of people,” for example, is and has been a violation of Twitter policies, but “new changes include more types of related content,” like “content that glorifies violence or the perpetrators of a violent act.”
Also, accounts that Twitter censors have decided are associated with organizations that use or promote violence will be included in the crackdown.
The company made stipulations for military and government entities, as well as “groups that are currently engaging in (or have engaged in) peaceful resolution,” which some believe was giving a pass to President Donald J. Trump.
Experts note that as private companies, social media giants are free to design their own policies.
“Twitter and Facebook are at the center of the controversies around fake news and hate speech, where their biases and even some hypocrisy are on display,” Richard Bennett, one of the original creators of the Wi-Fi system and founder of High Tech Forum, said.
“But it’s much better to allow these companies to create their own policies than to saddle them with government mandates. But that doesn’t mean we can’t laugh at them for demanding freedom for themselves while denying it to others.”
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