The Associated Press is one of the anchors of the garbage media in its newsprint form. The garbage manifests in a wide variety of aspects. See, for example, its story “Musk says granting amnesty to suspended Twitter accounts.” The headline is a bit difficult to decipher and the “reporter” who wrote it is not identified. The story, however, is datelined San Francisco. Perhaps that is all ye need to know.
The story is saturated with hostility to new Twitter, as I call it. The AP is, shall we say, unhappy that Musk is undoing the work of Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council. Members of the Trust and Safety Council are also unhappy with new Twitter. Despite the patent hostility of the story to Musk and to new Twitter, the AP has tweeted out the story (below). The tweet draws on the story’s opening paragraph to provide an unintentionally hilariously variation on the “experts say” ventriloquism (as Steve Hayward calls it) that gives away the story’s tilt.
New Twitter owner Elon Musk said he is granting “amnesty” for suspended accounts, which online safety experts predict will spur a rise in harassment, hate speech and misinformation. https://t.co/aZ0NyUP7Fp
— The Associated Press (@AP) November 24, 2022
Here is the opening paragraph:
“New Twitter owner Elon Musk said Thursday that he is granting “amnesty” for suspended accounts, which online safety experts predict will spur a rise in harassment, hate speech and misinformation.
The troublesome Mr. Musk noticed and counterpunched while posing a good question about the identity of these “online safety experts.”
But you have piqued my curiosity … who are these “online experts” you speak of?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 25, 2022
The AP decries the shape of things on Twitter with a minimal glimpse of specifics. Read on and it becomes clear: those “online safety experts” are members of old Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council. Is this some kind of a joke?
Reinstating banned accounts could mean bringing back the “worst offenders” including neo-Nazi trolls, people who maliciously posted intimate images of people without their consent and other accounts that repeatedly violated Twitter’s rules against hate speech, cyberstalking or harassment, said Danielle Citron, a law professor at the University of Virginia.
“It’s a disaster waiting to happen,” said Citron, who is also vice president of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative and sits on Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council, a group of outside advisers who haven’t met since Musk took over. “It’s crazy because the whole point of the permanent suspension is because these people were so bad they were bad for the business.”
Citron said an “amnesty” plan goes against years of work — supported by then-Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey — to build a platform for healthy online discourse that wouldn’t drive away average users fearful of being harassed. In most cases, Twitter only permanently suspended accounts that didn’t respond to other restrictions, such as temporary suspensions or restricted posts.
“So many people actually learn from suspensions and don’t re-violate,” Citron said. “You have to get pretty bad to get a permanent suspension.”
Another member of the Trust and Safety Council, Alex Holmes, said he is still awaiting feedback on the status of the council, which is due to meet in mid-December.
“With this latest decision, I can’t see this sitting right with the council or indeed what is left of the policy team, whose job it is to create effective policies that keep the platform safe,” Holmes said.
In the month since Musk took over Twitter, groups that monitor the platform for racist, anti-Semitic and other toxic speech say it’s been on the rise on the world’s de facto public square. That has included a surge in racist abuse of World Cup soccer players that Twitter is allegedly failing to act on.
The anonymous reporter goes deep on the rot at new Twitter:
The uptick in harmful content is in large part due to the disorder following Musk’s decision to lay off half the company’s 7,500-person workforce, fire top executives, and then institute a series of ultimatums that prompted hundreds more to quit. Also let go were an untold number of contractors responsible for content moderation. Among those resigning over a lack of faith in Musk’s willingness to keep Twitter from devolving into a chaos of uncontrolled speech were Twitter’s head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth.
Major advertisers have also abandoned the platform.
On Oct. 28, the day after he took control, Musk tweeted that there would be no “major content decisions or account reinstatements” until Twitter formed a “content moderation council” with diverse viewpoints that would consider the cases.
On Tuesday, he said he was reneging on that promise because he’d agreed to it at the insistence of “a large coalition of political-social activists groups” who later ”broke the deal” by urging that advertisers at least temporarily stop giving Twitter their business.
A day earlier, Twitter reinstated the personal account of far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, which was banned in January for violating the platform’s COVID misinformation policies.
And that’s not all:
Musk, meanwhile, has been getting increasingly chummy on Twitter with right-wing figures. Before this month’s U.S. midterm elections he urged “independent-minded” people to vote Republican.
Say it ain’t so! Experts say that the source of the AP’s patent animus against new Twitter can be found in this paragraph.