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Temporary Lapse of President's Twitter Account Raises Lasting Questions

Temporary Lapse of President's Twitter Account Raises Lasting Questions
(Dolphfyn/Dreamstime) 

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Friday, 01 December 2017 04:22 PM Current | Bio | Archive

A deafening silence recently fell across the Twitterverse as President Donald Trump’s Twitter account was deactivated. After 11 minutes had passed, the dust had settled, and President Trump was back to firing off tweets about everything from gun control to tax reform, a question loomed — who was responsible for coming between the world’s most powerful man and his favorite megaphone?

Twitter was quick to pin the blame for the deactivation on a rogue employee, scrambling to distance themselves from the incident as much as possible. The company even went so far as to subsequently change their story, alleging that the infraction was caused not by a full-time employee but a third party contractor.

These damage control efforts amounted to little more than a backhanded apology — the damage was done. You don’t simply let your platform’s most famous account disappear, an account which happens to belong to the current U.S. president. (Shortned/Softend)

Ironically, the incident came on the heels of a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism hearing on social media platforms and Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The hearing saw the general counsels of Twitter, Facebook, and Google defending their companies’ efforts to combat the problems, at the same time emphasizing their roles as public squares for political conversations.

In light of Trump’s haphazard and temporary Twitter deactivation, it is this last bit that is particularly questionable. How can Twitter and its peers in Silicon Valley act as public forums for political discourse when incidents like this happen?

If it were not for Twitter’s record of conservative censorship, passing the temporary block off as a misnomer would be believable. People make mistakes, Twitter is a big company, and no c-suite executive can realistically be held accountable for the minutia of their employees’ daily workloads.

But Twitter already has a record of censoring political sentiments of a certain kind. And that record makes it tough to believe that this incident was not the result of a certain level of bias extant in at least a segment of the Twitter corporate culture.

Twitter seems to censor conservatives every day. During the aforementioned Senate Judiciary hearing on Oct. 31, Twitter admitted to blocking anti-Hillary Clinton tweets during the 2016 presidential election. Weeks before that admission, Twitter temporarily blocked a campaign video posted by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., from being promoted on the platform calling it "inflammatory" for including pro-life sentiments. And aside from these very high profile and directly political instances of censorship, countless other examples are out there.

Making matters worse, the company, along with Google and Facebook, worked a few years back with the Obama administration to implement 'net neutrality' rules wrangling internet service providers and allowing themselves to throttle content as they please.

Whether micro-managing users on their own platforms or trying to pass national regulations enhancing their influence, these companies are clearly on a tear to control as much information as possible.

So as Twitter passes off deactivating Trump’s account as the work of a rogue operative and the story fades from recent memory, it is important to realize the systemic threat to free speech that this instance and others like it expose.

If Twitter and its contemporaries are to be public forums for political discourse, they must realize that that undertaking is a one way street. There is no way to compromise on free speech — it’s all or nothing.

It may have been one employee who temporarily deprived our president of his Twitter account, but we cannot help but think that "the one that got away" was an average employee, with average views molded by at least an appreciably biased portion of Twitter's corporate culture.

Christie-Lee McNally is the founder of Free Our Internet. She was the Maine Statewide Director for Donald J. Trump for President in 2016, is a concealed weapons permit holder, and a USAW Certified Olympic Lifting Coach. To read more of her reports — Click Here Now.

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ChristieLeeMcNally
It may have been one employee who temporarily deprived our president of his Twitter account, but we cannot help but think that "the one that got away" was an average employee, with average views molded by at least a biased portion of Twitter's corporate culture.
deactivating, facebook, google
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2017-22-01
Friday, 01 December 2017 04:22 PM
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