Friday, November 20, 2020

Twitter and media freedom

This is Joseph

I remain astounded by this particular story.  Probably not for the reasons that one might think. Twitter is a private platform and should have the ability to curate it's content. People are sore because the article was banned, even though it was published by a news organization. But it seems to be a basic tenant of any viable platform that it can control the types of content allowed. 

In terms of the impact of the article, it was clearly a non-story. Hunter Biden, so far as I can tell, is not currently running for any known electoral office nor is there any serious talk of him taking on an advisor role to the president-elect. There is not really any good principle for holding the actions of one's relatives, against them and, if there were, it is not 100% clear that this principle would suggest Hunter Biden as the greatest point of interest in the 2020 presidential election. Ivanka Trump, actually employed the white house, would seem to be fair more on point for discussion about political conduct. 

But this really highlights the problem with mass private communications and the attempts to "work the refs". It is clear that all editors have a bias or a spin, which is why TV shows used to be regulated. But obviously there is going to be a strange standard of platform accountability if it simply fails to let users promote a specific article, especially in an unpaid way. But its business model requires it to have some policies for content, even if only for copyright, and these are always going to expand to focus as well.

It is the case that we need to puzzle out the best way forward. The end of the fairness doctrine has been very helpful to organizations like Fox News, who want a partisan spin.  And it is clear that twitter has viable competitors (Facebook, Parlour, MeWe) who could fill the void if they alienated their base. Nor was anybody upset at the end of GooglePlus, they merely migrated their social media activity to other social media platforms. 

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