YORK: It’s time to check Twitter censorship | Opinion

Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk promises to reform the social media platform. “Free speech is the foundation of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital public square where issues vital to the future of humanity are debated,” Musk said in a statement after his bid to $44 billion to buy the company has been accepted.

Many, many conservatives hope Musk will succeed. But as much as Twitter needs greater freedom of speech, it also needs to tell the world precisely what it has been up to in recent years. That’s why it should conduct a full and thorough audit of all instances in which it has suspended users, banned users, reduced the visibility of tweets, and otherwise censored or deleted information on its platform. -shape for political reasons.

How many times have you heard that someone you might follow on Twitter has been suspended for a day, or warned or kicked off the platform altogether? And for what reason ? And how do you even know when you don’t see a tweet that, had it not been for Twitter’s deletion, you would have seen?

We all know the most famous and outrageous examples of Twitter deletion. For example, at this very moment, Twitter has taken down humor site Babylon Bee for declaring transgender Biden administration official Rachel Levine “Man of the Year.”

More importantly, we know what Twitter did in the Hunter Biden laptop case, when, at the height of the 2020 presidential campaign, Twitter locked the account of a major newspaper, the New York Post. , for publishing an article detailing suspicious business dealings by the Biden family. Twitter demanded that the Post remove the story. Twitter blocked users from sharing the story. And all of this on the false premise that the laptop information was hacked or inaccurate or somehow Russian disinformation. Meanwhile, Twitter did not censor the statements of those who made the false Russian disinformation claim.

After the election, when it became impossible for all but the most diehard ideologues to deny the laptop was real, then Twitter chief Jack Dorsey admitted that the company had made a mistake. “We recognize that this is a mistake we made, both in terms of the intent of the policy and also the enforcement action of not allowing people to share it publicly or privately. “, Dorsey told the Senate in late November 2020.

But Dorsey, who is no longer CEO, never explained how Twitter came to make the decisions it did. Who made them? By what process? How did Twitter decide to silence some accounts while leaving others untouched? Who exactly did he censor and when?

As Musk looks to the future, acting to secure free speech and “make Twitter better than ever,” he must also look back, to reveal to the public what Twitter has done in recent years to limit speech and censor viewpoints.

Meanwhile, some on the left are panicking about the possible end of censorship on Twitter. They loved him as he was. Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren said the sale of Twitter was “dangerous to our democracy”. Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich denounces the deal. Actresses Mia Farrow and Jameela Jamil say they are leaving. Director and actor Rob Reiner is angry at the prospect of Musk restoring former President Donald Trump to Twitter.

“The question for all of us is,” Reiner tweeted, “will [Musk] allow a criminal who used this platform to lie and spread disinformation in an attempt to overthrow the US government to come back and continue his criminal activity? And if he does, how do we fight it?” For his part, Trump says he won’t return to Twitter, that he will stick with his own site, Truth Social, although there is some skepticism on this subject.

In a truly delightful irony, some on the left fear that if Musk takes over Twitter, the platform will censor certain users. Imagine that! On his MSNBC show on Monday, host Ari Melber painted a chilling picture of what Twitter might look like under Musk.

“If you own all of Twitter or Facebook or whatever, you don’t have to explain yourself,” Melber said. “You don’t even have to be transparent. You can secretly ban a party’s candidate or all of their candidates, all of their candidates. Or you can just secretly deny the scope of their business and increase the scope of other thing, and the rest of us might not even know until after the election.”

Melber said it all with a totally straight face, like that wasn’t precisely what Twitter was doing lately, except favoring the side he likes best.

So now Musk begins the task of taking over Twitter. There are a lot of changes that need to be made to ensure fairness. And he will no doubt have to face fierce resistance from within the company he has just taken over. But what needs to be done first is go fully public – establish real transparency – by exposing precisely how and how often Twitter has suppressed legitimate political speech in recent years.

This content originally appeared on the Washington Examiner at washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/time-for-audit-of-twitter-censorship.

Byron York is the Washington Examiner’s chief political correspondent.