(Headline USA) After relishing the ability to heap abuse on their idealogical opponents with impunity due to Twitter’s censorship double-standard, leftist snowflakes have appeared to be in hysterics over the prospect of allowing free speech to reign on the platform.
They claim to fear that a more hands-off approach to policing the platform will embolden purveyors of “hate speech,” bullying and disinformation to ratchet up their bad behavior—a possibility that new owner Elon Musk has done little to dispel.
I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 25, 2022
Much as Twitter enabled many other examples of rampant leftist hypocrisy, the platform itself has now become cancel-culture’s latest target.
“No one feels safe in a public square where as soon as you speak, a hostile mob screaming obscenities descends upon you,” griped Michael Kleinman, an activist with Amnesty International. “That’s no longer a public square. That’s an arena.”
Yet, even the most precious and fragile of users who claim to have faced extreme harassment on Twitter say they are unlikely to quit the platform.
Despite the negative psychological toll, they still place a high value on Twitter as a place to express their views and engage with others.
Renee Bracey Sherman, a blue-checked biracial abortion activist, complained that her barbarous views and offensive posts on controversial topics subjected her to a steady stream of criticism on Twitter and, occasionally, an eruption of vile tweets: messages calling for her death, photos of aborted fetuses and, recently, her likeness photoshopped as a Nazi.
“It is a montage of hate and gore and violence,” Bracey Sherman whined.
She claimed her online footprint has even spilled into real life, with people placing stickers of swastikas and monkeys, on her potted plants and the front door of her home.
“What am I supposed to be able to handle?” she quivered delicately. “The fact that you are sending me photos of Nazis and telling me I should be raped over and over and over again?”
But while some famous people have promised to quit Twitter because of the liberal Musk, more typical users like Bracey Sherman say it’s not that simple. They cannot easily get attention wherever they go, cannot leave Twitter and expect their followers to join them.
To mitigate the criticism of her personal choice to post problematic content, Bracey Sherman has blocked thousands of people, and she uses filters to hide some of the most extreme messages.
She also reports some of the most egregious messages to Twitter, although she says the platform rarely does anything about them.
Quite to the contrary, Twitter has a longstanding reputation for shadow-banning and outright censoring many conservative viewpoints using overly vague “community guidelines” with an inconsistent appeals process as its justification.
While Twitter did not immediately respond for comment, the company says on its site that it does not permit targeted harassment or intimidation that could make people afraid to speak up. And it says it does not tolerate violent threats.
However, it continues to give platform to terrorist groups including the Taliban and Russian President Vladimir Putin since their violent threats and authoritarianism do not come into direct conflict with the leftist idealogy.
Musk has called himself a “free-speech absolutist” and believes Twitter will thrive as a forum for public debate with fewer restrictions.
“The extreme antibody reaction from those who fear free speech says it all,” Musk tweeted Tuesday.
The Left’s current uproar over Twitter echoes what other social media companies have experienced in the recent past, such as when Facebook was slow to act to remove then-President Donald Trump from the platform. But history shows that leftists’ attempts at boycotts rarely succeed.
Technology experts say leaving social platforms is not easy: Your friends or business associates are on it, and there are few alternatives—a problem that conservatives know all too well.
And even when fed-up users do leave, a steady stream of new users comes in right behind them. It’s not the angriest users who leave, experts say, but those who simply find no use for the platform.
Blue-checked “progressive” activist and failed congressional candidate Brianna Wu understands that arena as well as anybody.
Wu has since worked closely with Twitter’s trust and safety team to improve censorship on the platform.
“It terrifies me” to hear Musk talk about rolling back—if not completely wiping away—activists’ efforts, she groused.
4/ I’ve been right on this a hell of a lot more than I’ve been wrong.
And I’m telling you right now, Musk’s plans to dismantle Trust and Safety policies will make Twitter a drastically worse hellhole for women, LGBT people, and people of color.
Anyone want to bet me?
— Brianna Wu (@BriannaWu) April 27, 2022
“We fought very, very hard to improve the platform for women, for LGBTQ people and people of color,” said Wu, who claims to be bisexual.
But Wu has no plans to leave Twitter, which she relies on for personal and professional relationships.
“I’ve developed life-long friends on Twitter,” she said of her unhealthy social-media addiction. “I think it’s really sad that to get that human connection I’m going to have to deal with harassment again that damages and deadens your humanity.”
Bridget Todd, a spokeswoman for the militant neofeminist group UltraViolet, said she doesn’t intend to leave the platform either.
“Our voices are so powerful on platforms like Twitter,” she said. “I don’t necessarily think that this signals the end of that, because I know our voices can really endure.”
Evan Feeney, campaign director for the Black Lives Matter-linked Marxist group Color of Change, called Musk’s push to relax censorship standards on Twitter “an alarming development” while trying to recruit supporters for his radical group.
Pissed off about the Musk news today? Join my team and help lead the fight against tech and corporate oligarchs! I’m hiring a Senior Policy Manager to support our tech worker organizing, and develop strategies to take power back from tech billionaires. https://t.co/UP7pCWGVpG
— Evan Feeney (@EvanFeeney) April 25, 2022
“It is never good when a single billionaire who purposely conflates freedom to harm with freedom of speech controls one of the [largest] social media platforms in the world,” Feeney said disingenuously, while ignoring the financial support that most other billionaire oligarchs have extended to groups like his.
“We’ve spent years pushing Twitter to implement polices we think have made the platform better,” he cried. “It’s alarming that with a flip of a switch those could be rolled back.”
Harassment on Twitter also spills over into the real world, and it highlights just how much victims sometimes are forced to put up with.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press