While many across the Twittersphere gleefully cheered as the news spread that Twitter had been effectively banished from the platform, other observers including myself have expressed concern over the decision.
First things first: This is completely new ground for Twitter, an unprecedented move in its history to directly censor and dump a topic – Of any kind. Put aside any bias politically in this crucial election year in the US, this is unheard of.
But it’s also a clear statement for Twitter after previously choosing not to act on radical left-wing accounts associated with Antifa, flagged by the trump administration as a domestic terror group.
In its announcement on June 22, Twitter’s Safety account cited the move as a risk to offline harm.
The problem with this move is, that with all political bias aside, the QAnon proponents, as vocal and perhaps as misguided they are, are no more of a risk than the radical left movement. I have been a vocal critic of the QAnon conspiracy, both from a view of finding the movement as based on flimsy proof of authenticity to the negative impact its most vocal supporters have on their audience.
And though twitter is a private company, free to make their own decisions on what content they allow on their platform, the most recent censorship moves from Silicon Valley most certainly do not show trust in a private company to judge and adjudicate public discourse.
In the near future, we will be faced with a more transparent choice on how to proceed. Like Governments before have done with the mail service and telecommunications. At what point will major online service providers be accountable to a law higher than their boardroom chairs?
Regulation is not a popular move for most who value their freedoms, but the great question we are faced with is who do we trust more, a regulated media or private big tech?
And where will censorship end… where you want it to, or where the power you have put in place decides at your best interest?
Daniel is a Melbourne-based multimedia journalist with international experience as an editor, producer, designer and artist at some of Australasia’s biggest newsrooms. A longtime commentator and reporter on internet culture, he now journals his observations on digital life and counterculture for Boldly.