We are witnessing the dawn of the age of Digital Platform Censorship (DPC), which is censorship on a global scale.DPC doesn’t originate from any government, but, in its way, it can have a far greater impact than any nation-wide ban. For in the Current Year, if you don’t exist on Twitter or in a Google search—or if you’re book doesn’t appear on Amazon—you effectively don’t exist.
The fact that DPC is not occurring at the behest of a state—and does not have any overt partisan agenda—means that it is difficult to understand and is easily obscured through langue. In fact, those who administer Digital Platform Censorship do so in the name of “free speech” (and many of them genuinely believe that they are protecting “free speech.”)
Exhibit A: Twitter’s new, Orwellianly named “Trust and Safety Council.”
Twitter is famous for 140-character concision. But its statement is vague, rambling, and opaque. Let me try to translate.
On Twitter, every voice has the power to shape the world. We see this power every day, from activists who use Twitter to mobilize citizens to content creators who use Twitter to shape opinion.Translation: We don't want every voice to have the power to shape the world.
To ensure people can continue to express themselves freely and safely on Twitter, we must provide more tools and policies.Translation: True free expression requires more regulation and diversity councils.
With hundreds of millions of Tweets sent per day, the volume of content on Twitter is massive, which makes it extraordinarily complex to strike the right balance between fighting abuse and speaking truth to power. It requires a multi-layered approach where each of our 320 million users has a part to play, as do the community of experts working for safety and free expression.Translation: No one body can keep up with billions of tweets. So we need self-policing. Don’t suspect a follower of racism or sexism—report him!
That’s why we are announcing the formation of the Twitter Trust & Safety Council, a new and foundational part of our strategy to ensure that people feel safe expressing themselves on Twitter.Translation: Now that we are openly banning people for thought crimes, you’ll finally feel safe to express yourself.
As we develop products, policies, and programs, our Trust & Safety Council will help us tap into the expertise and input of organizations at the intersection of these issues more efficiently and quickly. In developing the Council, we are taking a global and inclusive approach so that we can hear a diversity of voices from organizations including: Safety advocates, academics, and researchers focused on minors, media literacy, digital citizenship, and efforts around greater compassion and empathy on the Internet; Grassroots advocacy organizations that rely on Twitter to build movements and momentum; Community groups with an acute need to prevent abuse, harassment, and bullying, as well as mental health and suicide prevention.Translation: Rent-seekers galore!
We have more than 40 organizations and experts from 13 regions joining as inaugural members of the Council. We are thrilled to work with these organizations to ensure that we are enabling everyone, everywhere to express themselves with confidence on Twitter. Twitter Trust & Safety Council - Inaugural Members: Anti-Bullying ProMost of these groups are child safety advocates, which gives the council an untouchable, “how could you possibly be against this!?” aura.
Center for Democracy and Technology
Circle of 6
Crisis Text Line
Cyber Civil Rights Initiative
Dacher Keltner, Professor of Psychology and Faculty Director of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center
Dangerous Speech Project
EU Kids Online
Family Online Safety Institute
Fundacion para la Libertad de Prensa
Internet Watch Foundation
Marc Brackett, Director, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence
National Cyber Security Alliance
National Domestic Violence Hotline
National Network to End Domestic Violence
Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales
Southwest Grid for Learning
The Alannah and Madeline Foundation
The Wahid Institute
UK Safer Internet Centre
Without My Consent