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‘Tweets Still Must Flow’. . .Except When Twitter Stops Them



Free speech is one of those topics that always sends people in a tizzy. Most would agree that censorship is a bad thing, but at the same time, it’s not right to yell “fire” in a crowded theater. Unless, of course, the theater really is on fire.

This idea is tricky enough when you’re talking about books and speeches and what people say on TV. Social media, makes it even trickier. Take Twitter. It’s a public forum where people can feel free to say whatever they want — to a point. Twitter doesn’t allow excessive spam or threats and they don’t allow you to print the contact information for your ex-girlfriend. Common sense stuff.

But what happens when people want to Tweet about controversial issues? What happens when they come down on the pro side of an issue most people would say no to? Should Twitter step in and delete offending posts?

I can hear you all shouting, “no way.” And that was Twitter’s stance last year. This year, they’re singing a slightly different tune.

Twitter has announced their ability and intention to block selected content by country. As an example, they refer to the ban on pro-Nazi content in France and Germany. Sounds like a big job. Still, they say they can do it and they’ll even notify the Tweeter with information on why they were cut off.

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I’m sure, some people will get upset about this type of censorship, but not me. Even if you bypass the rules of decent human interaction (which many do), it’s Twitter’s playground. They allow us all to come and play on their swings, but in the end, it’s their place and they can do what they want.

For the sake of doing business, Twitter does try to please all of the people all of the time. That’s obviously why they’ve decided to make this wishy-washy statement about how they “might” take down content that offends a whole nation.

I wish Twitter would take an even stronger stance and delete Tweets with inappropriate sexual content, foul language and abusive language. If people want to communicate like that in private, go for it — in an email — but I don’t see why it’s okay to put it on a public forum where everyone can see it.

What do you think? Should Twitter have the right to delete posts as they see fit? Or is this just the first step toward wholesale censorship?

  • Ian Burman

    “I wish Twitter would take an even stronger stance and delete Tweets with inappropriate sexual content, foul language and abusive language. If people want to communicate like that in private, go for it — in an email — but I don’t see why it’s okay to put it on a public forum where everyone can see it.”

    Where does that stop then? Who decides what’s foul and abrasive? I honestly think that censoring hate speech, as terrible as it is and it violates the laws in certain countries, is something that shouldn’t be done. All it does is make it impossible to counter the claims of the clueless and evil because you can’t hear them.

    I wish I could remember the exact thing that Henry Rollins said in one of his speaking performances, but it was along the lines of how on Jerry Springer shows and such (it was recorded in the mid-90s) would have the KKK members on and the audience would just yell and scream and not let them talk. Rollins’ thought were “Let them speak! How can you know what you disagree with them on if you don’t know what they think?”

    No one’s telling you that you have to listen to the abrasive tweets, that you have to follow them, that you have enjoy them. It’s a public forum, owned by a private company for sure, but everyone has a different idea of what should and shouldn’t be said in something like that. Stopping any of it for whatever reason is just not right.

    “Not only is it extremely cruel to persecute in this brief life those who do not think the way we do, but I do not know if it might be too presumptuous to declare their eternal damnation.” – Voltaire