Alex Jones is still on Twitter, despite the fact that he repeatedly violated the platform’s rules of conduct. But this is 2018, and Twitter users are ready to protest.
Before we go any further, let’s be clear about some terminology: Jones supporters would have you believe that his recent removal from other platforms is an act of censorship and a violation of First Amendment rights. That’s simply untrue.
The First Amendment’s free speech protections apply to all citizens, including the people behind the social media companies that gave him the boot. If these private interests decided they didn’t want Jones peddling his conspiracy theories on their platforms, that’s their right.
Jones is free to say whatever he wants, but there are no guarantees on where he can say it. Facebook decided, after lots of pressure, that Jones maintaining a presence on the platform was worse for business than his forced removal. So now he’s gone.
Twitter made the opposite determination. Jones broke the platform’s rules. CNN even proved it. But the company has made its stance clear: Evidence or not, Jones won’t be punished for his past behavior.
The hypocrisy is hard to miss when all of this came just a few days after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey shared his thoughts on Jones being removed from other platforms.
Truth is we’ve been terrible at explaining our decisions in the past. We’re fixing that. We’re going to hold Jones to the same standard we hold to every account, not taking one-off actions to make us feel good in the short term, and adding fuel to new conspiracy theories.
— jack (@jack) August 8, 2018
(Note: The above tweets are part of a larger thread.)
Here’s the thing about Twitter, though: Just like Facebook, it’s a business. Also like Facebook, ad dollars are a big part of what helps the company stay afloat. Promoted tweets, hashtags, and accounts are moneymakers.
The other thing about Twitter that’s important here: Users have control over what they see when they look at their timeline. If an undesirable account appears in your feed, you can mute or block it and that’s that. This safety feature works regardless of whether the account being blocked/muted is paying to promote a tweet or not.
Right now, a protest action is taking shape that encourages users to block Twitter’s advertisers en masse, using a block list. It’s a simple concept: If lots of users publicly and loudly block the interests that pay…
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