Source: “Twitter to Begin Using ‘Blue Check’ Status as a ‘Big Brother’ Weapon?” Tom Blumer, November 19, 2017
As a high school teacher 15 years ago, I showed students the Laura Poitras documentary on Edward Snowden’s NSA whistleblowing and subsequent hair raising escape. They enjoyed the film but were mystified at the excitement. What was the big deal about Snowden’s revelations? they asked me.
It was a big deal because he revealed that the telecom corporations were spying on everybody, I told them.
The reaction of teenagers the second decade of the 21st century? Duh, which is Homer Simpson-speak for only a complete idiot didn’t know that already.
Now I feel like the Twitter files are at least as significant but much of my generation views this as another giant Duh.
Social media platforms are censoring our speech quietly behind the scenes, so what?
In fact it is a huge revelation that numerous government employees (including the delightfully named Elvis Chan of the FBI’s Las Vegas office) spent untold hours of their taxpayer-funded time insisting that Twitter silence dissent. Elvis and the others did this rather than engaging in the law enforcement we’re told the FBI exists to do.
Liberals have gotten quickly caught up in the personalities around the Twitter files dump of internal data — and it’s easy to do. It would appear that billionaire Elon Musk bought Twitter for the purpose of revealing the private messages of work colleagues discussing how to handle the U.S. government’s increasing demands for 1) intervention in the debate about the pandemic and how best to respond and 2) intervention in the 2020 presidential election. The sequence of those two interventions is not without significance.
Also, some of the journalists Musk selected to work with are conservative. One exception is investigative reporter Matt Taibbi (who used to publish in Rolling Stone before it was captured by the security state now infiltrating most legacy media). Since Musk is himself a wealthy conservative who thinks it’s okay to overthrow governments of nations with large reserves of the elements needed to make his electric cars, no surprises there. But let’s not fail to understand that Twitter has been systematically silencing not only far-right voices but politically left voices as well. (Silencing both is probably fine with liberals who have monumentally failed to stick up for speech that doesn’t align with their views.)
According to the journalists, they received a large dump of internal communications from Twitter and the only constraints they agreed to on their reporting was the requirement that they “break” their stories on Twitter before publishing elsewhere.
So far this reporting has brought us news of how Twitter worked to suppress the entirely true story of Hunter Biden’s laptop and its contents implicating Senator Joe Biden in corrupt business deals in Ukraine prior to his election as president; how Twitter silenced numerous medical researchers and clinical practitioners debating as scientists do about a novel virus; and how Twitter began designating accounts as “_______ state-affiliated media” where you fill in the blank of the enemy du jour of the U.S. empire.
Some have downplayed the significance of this quiet censorship for years saying, Twitter (or Facebook) is a company not the government so it cannot by definition be in violation of the 1st amendment right to freedom of speech. But what if government was actually pulling the levers of speech repression from behind the scenes?
What if the FBI paid Twitter $3.41 million to censor speech?
Link to the thread containing this tweet.
Others have made the argument: so what, Facebook is much worse. And indeed Twitter users for a long time cherished the mistaken belief that their favorite platform, the digital town square where ideas were supposedly shared and debated openly (as the founder of Twitter claims was the goal), was in fact free and open. Twitter was the respectable social media platform, the intelligent choice, where policy makers and journalists and the public who were paying attention gathered.
Not everyone believes as I do that information control is the ball to keep your eyes on.
But as warmongering members of Congress slip seamlessly into new roles as CNN talking heads, I think I’m right to be alarmed at how insidious censorship in our day has become.
Just look at the war in Ukraine. Information management has all corporate media cheering for our proxy war against Russia, and those of us who dare to dissent find our accounts canceled, with the videos on our YouTube and Vimeo channels disappeared. Despite having tens of thousands of followers; or, perhaps, precisely because the canceled accounts had built up a large number of followers.
Did I mention that the corporate media have pretty much ignored the Twitter Files?
Interest on Twitter itself is strong, however, and likely to remain so as we anticipate the next reveal.
If you’re still not sure that ideas are as powerful as facts on the ground, consider the current campaign to make you believe that a nuclear war is either survivable or winnable. President Biden has said a first-strike with nukes is on the table, a table likely to be reduced to smoldering radioactive ash as WW3 ensues.