November 21, 2016
Twitter is a highly popular social media platform primarily used by brands and celebrities to engage with their customers. It is also a widely utilized method of communication between other sorts of content creators and their audiences. Twitter is how information travels in 140 characters; it dominates that space, of sending short bits of sharable text out for consumption on the entire Internet. No other platform provides a close alternative with a comparable userbase.
Thus when Twitter—which bills itself as a free speech promoter—arbitrarily bans high profile users from the platform without any transparency despite having allowed their presence for months and even years, it is questionable. It is questionable that MIT-cited election influencer Ricky Vaughn was banned from Twitter, despite being in the same impressions bracket as Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). It is questionable that Richard Spencer, a verified user with no notable history of Terms of Service violations was banned, along with the accounts of his organizations.
But what isn’t all that questionable is what the root of the Alt-Right purge is, an imperative to no-platform White nationalists and other heretics. Now, your first instinct—and that of many people both left and right—might be to say that Twitter is a corporation and therefore not required to uphold the first amendment. You don’t have the right to speak your mind on Twitter; you have the right to not be locked up for it by the government. That’s true, but it’s also not in the Alt-Right’s interest to be banned from Twitter for political speech, as Twitter is an important front in the meme war.
In many ways, being anti-speech goes against the ethos of the United States. And so Twitter, by banning people who have heretical opinions, also goes against that ethos. But no one really believes in that anymore, or not as widely as they used to. Appeals to “American values” are as caustically cynical as they come. Case in point: those who decried Trump as anti-American and aberrational now torch American flags in demonstration against him and wave the Mexican tricolor. So much for that.
But back to Twitter. To be excluded from the corporate-owned virtual public square is de facto exclusion from the public square itself. And that is precisely what goes against the customs of the American people. Twitter is so massive and unrivaled as to be a utility company more than anything else, and by banning people for political speech it effectively violates their right to participate in the public space.
Or something. The point is, we just had an election where social media dominated traditional media, and Twitter wants to ban nationalists from participating in it. We must oppose this and propose alternatives, and the best alternative is to nationalize the platform. The government already collects all your data anyway and can request it be turned over from a third party if they want it, so really what is the financially slumping, publically-traded Twitter even in business for? Getting people to click sponsored content?
Nationalize the damn thing. It would be in the Alt-Right’s best interest to have a “right” to use Twitter. You people like rights don’t you?