Not much of a defence

Journalist and conservative commentator Bari Weiss published the latest thread, hyped up by Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk, writing that “teams of Twitter employees build blacklists, prevent disfavored tweets from trending, and actively limit the visibility of entire accounts or even trending topics—all in secret, without informing users.”

The defence being deployed being – Yes.

16 thoughts on “Not much of a defence”

  1. I’m not sure that this cynical targetting of accounts was common knowledge, you know.

    The uncovering that the FBI had an inside man in Twitter is a rather serious First Amendment issue.

    Does any of our correspondents know what happens to a federal body that infringes the constitution in this manner ?

  2. Otto, so far nothing has happened to them and when it does they’ll get away with it, it’s so embedded it cannot be exposed to justice. And of course the DoJ itself is up to its collective neck in it.

  3. Virtually all advertising agencies, including all I’ve ever worked for, have been using political blacklists since at least 2016. They’re even called “blacklists” by employees, and they’re used to keep advertisements off of any website to the right of Forbes. We even boycotted Facebook for an entire month because of a bullshit hashtag that was going around. When Elon bought Twitter, the industry was flooded with “What does this mean for us?” newsletters, meaning there was a desire for more blacklisting.

    That’s why some brands were already removing themselves from the platform, like CBS. Not because they have any principles, but because they thought everyone else would leave. And then they came crawling back when they saw the users staying, even though Elon hadn’t at all backed away from the Free Speech policy.

    As agencies and other institutions base their blacklists not on any consistent principles, but instead on:

    1. Who everyone else is blacklisting
    2. What some random Google Sheet or biased media article said to blacklist. One of the most common sources is an LA Times article that mentions a douchey university professor of media studies.

    And I’d argue this censorship trend began even before the blacklists, when several news sites were getting rid of their comment sections. Some sites brought back commenting, especially since platforms like Disqus allow them to moderate, but many are still completely devoid of accountability from their readers.

    Also, fun fact, I went to high school in Pittsburgh down the road from Bari Weiss around the same timeframe, and we even share one or two mutual Facebook friends. Never met Bari, but I can tell you it’s extremely unlikely she’s a conservative. Not only did she work at the New York Times, but she has mostly associated with elitist liberals and held much of their beliefs until very recently. To be fair, I’d say she’s either a moderate, or disaffected liberal. She’s likely politically homeless, but at least believes in basic rights like Free Speech and equal application of the law, which now makes her a conservative I guess.

    Before she became as high-profile as she is, I remember her appearing on Joe Rogan’s podcast, where she called Tulsi Gabbard an “Assad toady,” a buzzword she then struggled to define. That’s not what I’d consider to be a conservative, or journalistic behavior, but I do think she’s grown a little since then.

  4. Bloke in North Dorset

    When I heard her on Joe Rogan she struck me as I’ll-informed on just about every subject they discussed.

  5. conservative commentator Bari Weiss

    No wonder conservatism is gang like the clappers, lads. Wheeeee!

    Otto – Does any of our correspondents know what happens to a federal body that infringes the constitution in this manner ?

    None dare call it treason lest the IRS take a sudden interest in their tax affairs, the FBI take a sudden interest in kicking their door in, and their friendly neighbourhood massive global financial institutions take a sudden interest in removing their ability to use the banking system like a normal person.

    The USA is a shitty gay banana republic, nominally run by a child-hungry litch and his gang of freaky associates resembling EYES WIDE SHUT meets KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE, but at least they’re not about to run out of electricity so maybe we’re the mongos.

  6. It looks like New England will run out of electricity this winter. Ironic, given the electoral bent of the region. Of course they engaged in much hilarity over Texas two winters ago. They had their chance in November, but ignored it. No tears will be shed here in the south.

  7. Mohave Greenie, I did read that the New England electricity blokes said it was wicked or something to store large quantities of oil or coal next to the electricity plants in case the gas ran out. Being NIMBIES like me, they also didn’t want more horrid gas pipelines sullying their pure and pristine landscape.

    They sound as stupid as we Aussies. I understand it’s next year they shut down the coal burner in NSW. And here they blow them up instead of keeping them like the Germans do.

    The thing I found most entertaining was that the electricity commission here made sure the panic about lack of maintenance of the remaining coal burners was postponed until after Albo won the election. After all he’d promised to lower our electricity bills by $275 a year.

  8. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testifying under oath to congress in 2018:-

    “I want to read a few quotes about Twitter’s practices and I just want you to tell me if they’re true or not,” Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Penn., said. “Social media is being rigged to censor conservatives. Is that true of Twitter?”

    “No,” Dorsey responded.

    “Are you censoring people?” Doyle asked next.

    “No,” Dorsey answered.

    “Twitter’s shadow-banning prominent Republicans… is that true?” Doyle followed.

    “No,” Dorsey said

  9. Bloke in North Dorset

    Either Twitter was set up so that Jack had plausible deniability or management was so bad that staff just did what they licked and management didn’t care.

    Given what we know now and it usually safest to bet the way of the shaving guy I’m going with the latter explanation.

  10. Bloke in North Dorset

    Its doubtful those costs changed much in the interim years, other than increasing faster than revenue, so its easy to see why Elon took an axe to staff numbers.

  11. ‘… what happens to a federal body that infringes the constitution in this manner ?‘

    From observation – nothing.

  12. The part that’s confusing, if Jack really didn’t know anything, is the fact that he showed up on Joe Rogan’s podcast with Vijaya and heard a lot of the solid accusations from Joe and Tim Pool. Even if he was oblivious to a lot of things, most people would at least say “I’ve got to look into this” after that interview. He was being told to his face that Proud Boys were being censored and AntiFa wasn’t. And he was sitting next to the lady giving the corporate lawyer answers. He had to have known and been okay with some of the stuff.

    And you certainly don’t appear before Congress if you’re not well aware of your company’s goings-on.

  13. Somewhat tangentially, as of Tuesday, The Times is demanding that those posting there do so under their real names (which they already know, because it’s restricted to subscribers). I don’t understand the thinking behind this. It won’t affect me as I have always used my real name, as on here (not particularly ‘brave’ as there are thousands with the same name across the UK unlike, say, Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes). But I know several people who are likely to withdraw and cancel their subs as a result. And it will, sadly, end the stream of Ian Hislop impersonators, who sometimes argue about which of them is ‘real’.

    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/help/articles/what-are-the-rules-when-commenting-on-the-times-website
    (I don’t think the usual paywall applies)

  14. @Ottokring – “The uncovering that the FBI had an inside man in Twitter is a rather serious First Amendment issue.”

    Not by itself – though it is highly suspicious. If the FBI make legitimate complaints to Twitter in a non-biased way, that’s ok. If they pass on complaints received from the public (after investigation that they are legitimate), that’s ok too. The problem arises if the FBI are creating biased complaints.

  15. Bloke in North Dorset

    From The Grumpy Economist:

    From Rob Wiesenthal at the Wall Street Journal re Elon Musk and Twitter:

    Minutes after closing his purchase of the company, he started a process that reduced the workforce from 7,500 to 2,500 in 10 days….

    Mr. Musk is trying to cure a degenerative corporate disease: systemic paralysis. Symptoms include cobwebs of corporate hierarchies with unclear reporting lines and unwieldy teams, along with work groups and positions that have opaque or nonsensical mandates. Paralyzed companies are often led by a career CEO who builds or maintains a level of bureaucracy that leads to declines in innovation, competitive stature and shareholder value….

    Mr. Musk set his new tone immediately. He eliminated a 12-member team responsible for artificial-intelligence ethics in machine learning, the entire corporate communications department, and a headquarters commissary that cost $13 million a year (despite prior management’s pandemic decree that Twitter employees would be “remote forever”)….

    he knows he doesn’t need five layers between him and the employees who actually do the work. His recent email to the engineering team stating, “Anyone who actually writes software, please report to the 10th floor at 2 pm today,” makes it clear he doesn’t want a membrane of corporate yes-men between him and the people who actually build things….

    As sole owner, he can also quickly terminate the members of Twitter’s black hole of middle management, that cold and lonely place where great ideas go to die at big companies….

    The days of nap pods, emotional-support dogs, corporate pronoun guides, personal wellness days and email blackouts after 5 p.m. are quickly vanishing….

    Those employees who relish getting things done will thrive.
    My emphasis as its something BoM4 pointed out when it happened.

    The rest is a good read as he goes on to point out Standford is going the way of Twitter before Musk arrived.

    https://johnhcochrane.blogspot.com/2022/12/twitter-and-universities.html

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