Twitter Takeover and the Social Media Problem

Forget censorship, it’s a restriction of trade we should worry about

Shelly Fagan

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Photo by Pat Whelen on Unsplash

More than half the planet — 4.62 billion people — use social media.

Minutes after Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, the platform was flooded with vile posts akin to 4chan. (No, I won’t be providing a link).

The Musk fiasco demonstrates the underlying problem of social media moderation — an algorithm that pushes the platform’s preferred content to viewers while concealing the rest — all performed in the background with the formula hidden from users.

No one knows what specific policies will be applied because those are never made public. These actions are often concealed under vague descriptions such as “violation of community guidelines” — that is if the user is notified at all.

Moderators who work for these social media giants usually sign non-disclosure forms prior to employment. Despite the legal grey area surrounding the enforcement of such agreements, few want to take on a battle with a global behemoth like Meta where the best outcome would be a settlement with an enforceable gag order.

When a problem does occur, there is no avenue of redress. The user may not even be notified that their content is restricted. No human is required to review actions taken by AI. There is no requirement to provide a means to appeal the action.

“The very first hours of Musk’s stewardship of the social media platform have been dominated by his supporters relishing their ability to use profane slurs and racial epithets, and a torrent of racist, antisemitic, Islamophobic, homophobic, and transphobic hate speech” Vice

In just minutes of Musk’s takeover, Twitter was dramatically transformed based on the public’s perception of change in leadership alone, demonstrating the power individuals at the top wield in the eyes of the users. Whether it’s true or not is not the issue.

No one at Twitter announced the change. None of the users know if their account will be hidden or even if the content is allowed. Twitter was not compelled to publicly address whether millions of accounts are now restricted or if bans have been lifted. The company answers to no one.

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Shelly Fagan

Complicated subjects made accessible. Politics, Basic Income, Philosophy. I follow back.