A New York Times op-ed calls on Twitter to “issue badges of status or of shame based on signals about how people actually use, or abuse, Twitter.”
In the article, titled “Twitter, It’s Time to End Your Anything-Goes Paradise,” author Farhad Manjoo pretends Twitter is a free-speech friendly platform, before calling on the company to give up this alleged support for the First Amendment.
“It’s time for Twitter to scrap one of its founding principles: the idea that it is an anything-goes paradise, where anyone who signs up for a voice on its platform is immediately and automatically given equal footing with everyone else, and where even the vilest, most hateful and antisocial behavior should be tolerated,” Manjoo declared.
“At the core of this problem is confusion over what kind of network Twitter should be. Twitter’s founders always talk about the service as a kind of public square, where everyone should be able to have a more or less unfettered voice,” he complains. Instead, Manjoo believes Twitter should adopt a system where some voices are more equal than others.
“Twitter should begin to think of itself, and its users, as a community, and it should look to the community for determining the rights of people on the platform,” Manjoo suggests. “The better you used the service — where ‘better’ is determined, as much as possible, based on how others react to your account — the more status you’d earn, and the more you’d be allowed to do.”
Despite Manjoo’s claims that Twitter has an obsession with free speech, the platform frequently suspends and sanctions dissident users, many who are conservative.
This month, Roger Stone’s “Stone Cold Truth” account, center-left commentator Bunty King, and Sam Hyde’s comedy group Million Dollar Extreme were all permanently suspended from the platform, while anti-Islam commentator Tommy Robinson and journalist Laura Loomer were stripped of their verification badges.
The suspension of Stone Cold Truth comes after Roger Stone’s own suspension from the platform in October after he insulted CNN anchors. In September, Twitter also suspended two popular right-wing transgender commentators, Theryn Meyer and Michelle Catlin.
Last week, Twitter announced that they would start sanctioning users for their offline behavior as well.