By D. C. Thursday August 29 2019

  • Twitter won’t autoban ‘neo-Nazis’ because the filters may ban GOP reps.

Is booting ‘neo-Nazis’ from Twitter a simple process? Probably not. Can steps be taken at the very least to punish racist tweets? Probably, but not everyone will be happy with whose hate speech gets scrubbed as a result.

With a user base of 321 million monthly tweeters — a few millions less than the total US population — Twitter says it could help minimize the rapid spread of digital ‘hate speech’.

It turns out one Twitter employee couldn’t help but wonder why they don’t take action.

In a Company meeting on March 22nd, an employee asked why the company refrains from using its AI to kick ‘neo-Nazis’ off the site.

The answer was unsurprising – Content filters created to identify ‘hate speech’ could potentially result in elected Republican officials being banned, an executive explained.

Motherboard (link) broke down the executive’s explanation of the algorithm process:

With every sort of content filter, there is a tradeoff, [the executive] explained. When a platform aggressively enforces against ISIS content, for instance, it can also flag innocent accounts as well, such as Arabic language broadcasters. Society, in general, accepts the benefit of banning ISIS for inconveniencing some others, he said.

In separate discussions verified by Motherboard, that employee said Twitter hasn’t taken the same aggressive approach to white supremacist content because the collateral accounts that are impacted can, in some instances, be Republican politicians.”

The employee argued that, on a technical level, content from Republicans could get swept up by algorithms aggressively removing ‘white supremacist’ material.

Banning elected officials wouldn’t be accepted by society as a trade-off for flagging all of the ‘white supremacist’ propaganda, he argued.

Twitter told Motherboard that this statement from the employee “is not [an] accurate characterization of our policies or enforcement — on any level.” Meanwhile, Facebook has begun explicitly banning ‘white nationalism’ and ‘white separatism’.

This news, of course, arrives just days after Donald Trump met with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Originally, the meeting was set up to discuss ways to “protect the health of the public conversation ahead of the 2020 U.S. elections and efforts underway to respond to the opioid crisis.” 

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