by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Writing n the New York Times, Yoel Roth, the former “head of trust and safety” (Orwell would be unsurprised that politically helpful euphemism remains a lively source of linguistic creativity) discusses some of the content issues that have arisen in Twitter since Elon Musk’s takeover of the company.
Notwithstanding questions over Roth’s supposed bias, the article is thoughtful. And while there are things to disagree with, it is well worth reading. Among other topics, Roth raises interesting questions about the extent to which Musk can really build Twitter as a bastion of free speech given various constraints, including those coming from censorship hot spots where Twitter is still allowed, such as the EU and the UK.
That’ll be something to talk about on another occasion, but in the meantime, this caught my eye:
“Advertisers have played the most direct role thus far in moderating Mr. Musk’s free speech ambitions. As long as 90 percent of the company’s revenue comes from ads (as was the case when Mr. Musk bought the company), Twitter has little choice but to operate in a way that won’t imperil the revenue streams that keep the lights on. This has already proved to be challenging.” …
…“In response, Mr. Musk empowered my team to move more aggressively to remove hate speech across the platform — censoring more content, not less. Our actions worked: Before my departure, I shared data about Twitter’s enforcement of hateful conduct, showing that by some measures, Twitter was actually safer under Mr. Musk than it was before.” …
… But what, I wondered, is the Global Alliance for Responsible Media? Given the slippery ways that, in this age of euphemism, the word “responsible” can be used, its appearance within the name of “global alliance” raised a red flag.