Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Twitter CEO Personally Involved In Who gets Blacklisted

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The Wall Street Journal recently published an article outlining the efforts Twitter is making to crack down on "bad actors" on its platform.

The efforts include the personal involvement of CEO Jack Dorsey as to who does and who does not get to Tweet.

That's particularly troubling in light of a new Pew Survey that finds 29% of men under 30 have changed their political beliefs because of what they've read on social media.

Be informed.

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article titled, "Inside Twitter's Long, Slow Struggle to Police Bad Actors."

The article outlines how Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey personally steps in to make decisions on the banning of certain high-profile accounts, regularly frustrating Twitter employees who prefer the company be the neutral "platform" it was created to be rather than the "news source" it is becoming by deciding which news will be published and which will not.

Does the CEO of publicly traded Twitter really decide who gets to use it and who doesn't?

Twitter legal counsel is pushing back hard on the Wall Street story, claiming that Dorsey does not make those kinds of decisions.

But some employees say he weighs in pretty heavily. And employees complain about the suppression of diverse beliefs within the company.

In 2016, there was a similar chain of events when the firm's trust and safety team kicked off far-right Richard Spencer, saying he was operating too many accounts. Dorsey told his staff that Mr. Spencer should be able to keep one account and stay on the site, according to a person personally involved in the decision.

Twitter's chief legal officer, Vijaya Gaddle, says, "Our service can only operate fairly if it's run through consistent application of our rules, rather than the personal views of any executive, including our CEO."

Dorsey has consistently apologized for these kinds of personalized decisions while promising to "do better"---tweeting, "Truth is we've been terrible at explaining our decisions in the past. We're fixing that."

Why should people care so much what this publicly traded company does?

If you don't like it, don't use it---or read it.

Twitter and other social media platforms have become so dominate in news delivery they have the power to affect elections in America if they inject their own personal views into the flow of information they carry.

Social media platforms are licensed as "platforms" to carry all points of views represented by their users. In doing so they have created hundreds of billions of dollars of wealth for their stockholders and executives.

When they begin deciding what the public can and cannot read or know, they become "news sources", "content sources" rather than "platforms"---and they come under an entirely different set of regulations.

Clearly, they want to avoid that. But they can't have it both ways.

Jack Dorsey is scheduled to testify before the House Commerce Committee tomorrow (Wednesday). Committee Chair Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR.) says the committee will be questioning Dorsey on the silencing of conservative voices on Twitter.

He says the hearing "is about pulling back the curtain on Twitter's algorithms, how the company makes decisions about content, and how those decisions impact American citizens."

A recent Pew Survey shows just how significant the impact of social media is on American's thinking.

Pew found that 29% of men under 30 have had their political views changed by social media, while 14% of Americans overall have been affected by Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other platforms in the same way, because of something they saw on social media.

Now that the founders and those who control the platforms have made their billions of dollars of wealth, it appears there is a tendency to now want something more than the money---Influence to shape this country in the image of their particular worldview.

Social media's influence on the way Americans think and believe is exponentially more than the greatly discredited news media.

Men between the ages of 18 and 29 were the most likely people in the country to change their minds after seeing content on social media, with 29% claiming they have actually done so.

Pew says, "Social media prompted views to change more among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (17%) than among Republicans and Republican leaners (9%)."

"Within these party groups," Pew says, "there are also some differences by gender, at least among Democrats. Men who are Democrats or lean Democrat (21%) are more likely than their female counterparts (14%) to say they've changed their minds."

However, Pew says "equal shares of Republican and Republican-leaning men and women say the same (9% each)."

Social media has become the dominant news delivery system in America.

Last year, Pew reported that 67% of Americans received their news through social media. Up 5% from 2016.

And 74% of users claimed to get their news from Twitter, while 68% of users claimed to get their news from Reddit or Facebook.

About 32% of users received their news from Google's YouTube platform.

This is why it matters whether these social networks are "platforms" or "news sources."

They have the power to manipulate what is seen and read by millions of Americans, and what is not.

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President Trump has regularly been criticizing social media for discriminating against Republicans/Conservative voices. He said last week, "They are closing down the opinions of many people on the Right, while at the same time doing nothing to others."

Take away.

About 63% of those who claimed to have changed their political views through social media also claimed social media was an important tool to become involved in "political or social issues."

Use social media wisely. It is a powerful tool. You can make a difference using these platforms.

It is equally effective in sharing the gospel. And that should be the ultimate goal for every biblical Christian.

Be Informed. Be Vigilant. Be Pro-Active. Be Faithful. Be Prayerful.