Twitter has always been free and open for anyone to use. While there are rules to abide by and ethics to follow, there was no known censorship of any sorts on the platform. As long as you followed the rules, you were free to tweet about anything. Twitter was controlled by its users, but Twitter censorship in various forms has started to show itself.
Twitter opted for censorship – to silence you
Twitter has recently announced that three new changes would come into effect on the platform. The idea behind the move was because they wanted to “combat abuse and harassment.” The changes that were to be applied included:
- Extra measures to be taken so users who had been banned from Twitter would not be able to create new accounts.
- Implementation of “safer search results.”
- Removal of tweets that were deemed, by Twitter, to be “potentially abusive” or “of low quality.”
By ensuring safer search results, Twitter intends to remove “sensitive” tweets from blocked or muted users. The removal will hide large numbers of replies to tweets that they deemed to be inappropriate. Although they said the replies would be discoverable they also added, rather confusingly, that they wouldn’t “clutter search results any longer.”
Does Twitter have the right to censor?
Before we go into the matter of rights, we need to note that Twitter is a privately-owned company. They are not a government agency, therefore free speech rights do not apply. This gives them the right to kick anyone off of their platform so long as the decision doesn’t breach anti-discriminatory laws.
Another thing that needs to be noted is that talk of politics is allowed on the platform.
"In the truest sense, freedom can be bestowed; it must be achieved." -Franklin D. Roosevelt
— Political Quotes (@quotespolitics) January 18, 2014
Whatever political inclinations you may have, the thought that your tweets could be removed should make you wonder what else they are removing. As soon as people started noticing this Twitter censorship they were up in arms. The law is now mulling whether it isn’t akin to robbing the rights of people who are saying what’s on their minds in the setting of modern day versions of public “Main Streets.”
— #TrishTheDish (@RealTrishDish) March 18, 2017
When was the Twitter censorship put in place?
Twitter censorship is said to have started around 2015. The social media platform, quite understandably, doesn’t see it as censorship but as the filtering of abuse.
To clarify matters, two of the company’s execs admitted that Twitter was developing new tools for censorship. Vice President of Engineering Ed Ho said that they aimed to make the platform a safer place. In a series of tweets that he sent out earlier this year, he added that they would be rolling out a number of product changes. Some of these changes, he said, would be visible while others would be less so.
We’ll be rolling out a number of product changes in the days ahead. Some changes will be visible and some will be less so.
— Ed Ho (@mrdonut) January 31, 2017
What can you do to get around Twitter censorship?
The most important thing people like you are now asking is what they can do about Twitter censorship. Below are some steps you can take to get around it:
Buy Auto Engagements
Our Auto Engagements service will push your tweets into the Twitter-sphere and let your hashtag climb to the top as it continues to trend. No matter how much Twitter will try, if a hashtag is trending or millions of people are aware of your message, you will have gotten it through. They would need to allocate immense resources just to stop you.
This service will help to popularize every single tweet you send out. You will be heard.
Keep an eye on the biggest accounts of the internet
You should start to hope that threats from Anonymous stating that they will create an alternative to “feudal” Twitter come to fruition.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) July 21, 2016
WikiLeaks joined the fight against the Twitter censorship after the hacktivists made it clear that they would not stand for any sort of censorship, no matter what the reason. They believe that any social media platform is exactly that – a platform for any, and everyone to express their thoughts.
— AnonNews #SLY 🌐 (@4n0nc47) March 21, 2017
Play with words
Use your own blog and post your tweets for those you want seen on it. Misspell hashtags on purpose to get around intentionally blocked keywords. Come up with codewords. You can communicate with your followers or the public in general by creating your own words.
Don’t sit this one out
Let your voice be heard. Say “NO!” Spread the word. Protest.Take it into the real world. One thing we seem to have forgotten is that we have lived for millennia without requiring social media to voice our concerns. Write using paper and pen, meet face-to-face, organize out there. Speak and share. Gather friends and support on Twitter, and then take it to the streets.
— R3dD4WG (@RedDizzlah) March 19, 2017
You are not entirely helpless. You can fight back against Twitter censorship by doing everything from buying retweets to taking the fight into the real world and letting your voice be heard loud and clear.
What does the Twitter censorship ensue?
In 2016, and in a bid to curb what it saw as being inappropriate use of its platform, Twitter didn’t hide the fact that it was not going to let the alt-right roll all over its platform. The decision came after the KKK decided to join the 21st century and use Twitter to spread its white supremacist beliefs.
Can Twitter censorship play a good part?
Obviously, the Internet is a powerful tool that, if let to run amok, could be open to abuse. Illegal, offensive, and harassing material could do more damage than good to those of us that use the platform to share our thoughts. We all remember the abuse that led to Leslie Jones temporarily leaving Twitter.
I leave Twitter tonight with tears and a very sad heart.All this cause I did a movie.You can hate the movie but the shit I got today…wrong
— Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) July 19, 2016
Most of us would agree such misuse would be well off of the Internet. Most social media companies go to extreme efforts to have such content blocked, and Twitter is no different.
What is the harm in censoring tweets?
Protective censoring, if not reined in by saner minds, could lead to abuse of that power. The people (or companies) that have the power to put the censorship in place can easily be tempted, convinced, or even forced into stopping any information they deem inappropriate from getting through.
Whether or not the information that is blocked is harmful to the general public will be subject to only their decision. Twitter’s decision to curb what it calls “low-quality” tweets is akin to such a move. The question people are asking is who it is that gets to decide what is classified as a low-quality tweet and to whom it is as such.
Can you control it either way?
While you have no control over the tweets that you have sent out, you can control the ones that you read. The ones that you send out into the Twitter-sphere fall in the company’s realm. But, if you think you need to read anything that you want to, there is a way to get around Twitter’s censorship:
- A Twitter feature that is automatically enabled lets you block tweets that are considered to be “harassing.” The company calls it “Quality filter.”
- You can disable it by following these instructions.
Who has been affected by the Twitter censorship?
It isn’t clear whether Twitter’s decision to censor tweets targets any specific group of individuals. What is known is that a number of online celebrities and political figureheads have felt the brunt firsthand.
The PewDiePie suspension
YouTube star PewDiePie has become quite a phenomenon in his own rights. He has one of the most visited channels on the video sharing platform. For a person who obviously knew how social media platforms worked, it came as a surprise when his account was briefly suspended in August of 2016.
Pewdiepie has been suspended and unverified on Twitter for making a joke about joining ISIS pic.twitter.com/06QQcbmc7H
— Ned Donovan (@Ned_Donovan) August 31, 2016
According to the YouTuber, things started to go downhill when he first intentionally unverified his account by tampering with his handle. A parody account then tweeted falsely that PewDiePie had lost his Twitter verification because he had “suspected relations with ISIS.” For reasons only he knows, PewDiePie then retweeted the fake story and Twitter decided to step in and temporarily shut his account down.
The DNC hacking suppression
In July of 2016, America held its breath as news broke that the DNC servers had been hacked. Twitter lit up and people were keeping track as #DNCLeaks trended right at the top. Then, suddenly, the hashtag disappeared from the trending bar for about 20 minutes and tweeters were up in arms. Twitter, realizing its blunder, quickly decided to put it back.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) July 23, 2016
The problem was that the new hashtag was #DNCLeak – without the “s.” One word immediately resonated across the platform – “censorship.”
Leslie Jones abuse
As mentioned above, comedian Leslie Jones was greatly abused by… Let’s just call him a troll. She had recently released the new Ghostbusters movie. Many people were critical of her, and rightly so the movie should have never been made, in my opinion. Movie criticism aside, Leslie did not deserve any of the abuse heaped upon her.
I feel like I'm in a personal hell. I didn't do anything to deserve this. It's just too much. It shouldn't be like this. So hurt right now.
— Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) July 19, 2016
This abuse lead to a troll, who will not be named, from being suspended permanently from Twitter. Is this a form of censorship? Well, is sending criminals to prison also a form of censorship? I’m pretty sure the answer is no, and those who spur violent language towards others should be punished.
These three examples serve as proof that Twitter has been tinkering with tweets or accounts that it deems “inappropriate.” This is the bone of contention that has everyone worried about whether Twitter will be able to remain the truly free platform it originally started out to be. If not, guess who the true victim will be? Hint: It’s you.
Twitter censorship shouldn’t happen
We can’t predict what the future holds. What we can say is that the spirit of kinship people feel when they are oppressed or denied their freedom is indomitable. No authority, big or small, has really ever succeeded in holding people back or down. Sad as it may be, Twitter has the full right to allow or deny access to anyone they want. They are a private company, they are not Congress. But then again, you do not have to take it sitting down. You have options for circumventing the Twitter censorship. Take back control by:
- Using our Auto Engagement service to spread your word far and wide; invest in your own freedom.
- Do no accept censorship, it is not the norm and it shouldn’t be.
- Use tricks and intentional misspelling of hashtags to get around the censorship.
- Take the fight into the real world; real-life activism is as effective as ever.
The only way Twitter censorship can be effective in stopping you from saying or reading what you want is if you let it happen. Take a stand, and let your voice be heard.