Yesterday, Twitter took twelve hours to add a “manipulated media” label to viral tweets from verified celebrities that included a photo of a man who appeared to be the Minneapolis cop who killed George Floyd, wearing a hat saying “Make Whites Great Again.”
The picture was, of course, a fake, and quickly proven as such. Sometime after 8:00 p.m. eastern, Twitter added a note warning users that the photo was “manipulated media,” linking them to stories proving the photo was false.
But Twitter had delayed that action by far too long. By the time it added its label, the first viral tweet of the photo, from rapper Ice Cube, which had been posted a full twelve hours before Twitter finally took action, had accumulated over 40,000 retweets. In Minneapolis, the riots that would destroy parts of the city were already well underway.
How many of those rioters had, earlier in the day, seen Ice Cube’s tweet? The tweet in question added Ice Cube’s inflammatory comment above the doctored image: “A wolf in wolves clothing. The demons are among us. ”
Since 2016, we’ve heard constant complaints from establishment media and commentators about the need to clamp down on “harmful misinformation.” When tech platforms fail to take down fake news, so says the media, it can lead to violence, destruction of property, and even genocide.
We are told that it is mere happenstance that these concerns, coupled with calls for unprecedented censorship and control of online information, suddenly burst into the spotlight right after Donald Trump won the presidency with massive online support. Just a coincidence!
Whatever the reasons, tech companies have meekly followed the establishment’s demands. With the recent coronavirus, tech platforms have moved to give themselves even more power to take down their users’ content on the grounds of “misinformation.”
In April, Twitter updated its terms of service to prioritize action against “misinformation” that can lead to real-world “social unrest.” You know, like rioting and vandalism in Minneapolis!
The update was focused on claims around the Chinese virus, but you’d think that someone in the company would have noticed the burgeoning unrest in Minneaopolis and the potential for Ice Cube’s fake news to further incite it. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, is, after all, an expert on such matters — he marched with Black Lives Matters protesters in Ferguson, MO, also the scene of violent riots.
Personally, I’m against tying responsibility for the violent actions of some individuals to the non-violent words of other individuals, regardless of whether the words constitute “misinformation,” “hate speech,” or whatever else. But Twitter has laid down the rules, so it should make them apply equally to everyone.
But, as we all know, the rules weren’t created so they could be equally applied to everyone. It wasn’t a coincidence that this doctrine of social media censorship, and this panic over “misinformation” emerged right after Trump won. It’s an agenda pushed by the left and the establishment, with the express purpose of censoring the right.
That’s why Twitter took just a couple of hours to add a “fact check” label to a perfectly valid Trump tweet about voter fraud, while taking a full twelve hours to add a warning label to Ice Cube’s tweet.
It’s why Twitter will almost instantly kick off conservative journalists who post tweets that are factually accurate but uncomfortable to the left, while leaving the hate speech of a New York Times writer who compared white people to “dogs pissing on fire hydrants” live and untouched.
It’s why the platform took days to remove violent threats against MAGA-hat wearing high school kids.
It’s time to wake up to reality. The “rules” were never meant to apply to both sides.
Are you an insider at Google, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, or any other tech company who wants to confidentially reveal wrongdoing or political bias at your company? Reach out to Allum Bokhari at his secure email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.