By: Eric Lieberman
Twitter on average suspended more than 1 million accounts a day in recent months, showing the company cares more about cleansing the platform than user growth.
Long accused by respective portions of the population of not doing enough to weed out vitriolic engagement and misinformation, and lacking a free expression ethos, Twitter seems to push ahead with the former. It suspended more than 70 million accounts in May and June, according to The Washington Post. And the rate has allegedly maintained in July. If its quarterly report will suffer remains to be seen, but is reportedly likely.
Despite these professed numbers, people still allege that Twitter insufficiently polices its platform. And if Twitter ramps it up even further, it could lead to more incidences of apparently inappropriate censorship.
Outside estimates of how many fake or spam accounts there are vary, but are generally higher than what Twitter told Congress (5 percent) earlier in the year. Still, due to human reviewers and algorithms that flag certain posts and accounts, a Twitter user who posted sharp criticism of Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist group, was restricted by the tech giant. Twitter has called this and several others a “mistake,” and for at least one a potential example that it may need to “refine” its policies — although apparently in the opposite direction of what one would expect after instances of over-censoring.
“Generally, we remain neutral as to the content because our general council [sic] and CEO like to say that we are the free speech wing of the free speech party,” Tony Wang, then-general manager of Twitter’s operations in the U.K., said in 2012.
Roughly five years later, Sinead McSweeney, Twitter’s European vice president for public policy and communications, said it is “no longer possible to stand up for all speech.”
This change, overall, in mindset and practice isn’t very surprising. Emails leaked in October 2017 showed that there was an imminent crackdown on “hate symbols and imagery,” “violent groups,” and “nonconsensual nudity,” adding, or more aptly intensifying its efforts against content, which already include sifting out false news and abuse.
And just weeks ago at the end of June, Twitter announced that it “identified and challenged more than 9.9 million potentially spammy or automated accounts per week.”
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