Twitter plans to ban users that tweet “dehumanizing” statements about any “identifiable group” even when no specific person is targeted, say a company blog post published by a top ranking Twitter employee.
You may not dehumanize anyone based on membership in an identifiable group, as this speech can lead to offline harm.
For instance, if one were to criticize Islam in a manner that was deemed dehumanizing, they would be subject to a penalty even if they were not talking about any particular Muslim. The Twitter Safety Team emphasized this in a tweet:
Here are some example Tweets this policy is looking to address: pic.twitter.com/JvmeKyveLj
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) September 27, 2018
All identifiable groups. Please do not dehumanize ANY of the above or Twitter will ban you.
Twitter will ban every American by next Christmas. Bipartisan purge coming. https://t.co/jD3cQxCokf
— Brett MacDonald (@TweetBrettMac) October 2, 2018
Del Harvey, Twitter’s vice president for Trust & Safety, and Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s Legal, Policy, and Trust & Safety lead published the blog post announcing this policy shift. Unfortunately, neither of these two thought things through very far.
Let’s examine the potential consequences of enacting this policy:
The policy itself is either impossible to administer fairly or a platform-crippling decision. If Twitter were to implement this new rule and truly consider every “identifiable group” equal, a lot of political rhetoric in America will be off-limits.
Here’s how they define such groups:
Identifiable group: Any group of people that can be distinguished by their shared characteristics such as their race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, serious disease, occupation, political beliefs, location, or social practices.
Remember the #PunchANazi trend, liberals? Or, does anyone enjoy a good Pinochet meme? Those would be strictly prohibited. For that matter, even when not describing Republicans as Nazis, the Nazis themselves constitute an identifiable group, do they not? And liberals are ever adding to their long list of words the dehumanize criminals, be they illegal aliens (no, no, no human is illegal!) or rampaging thug (thug is code word!), liberals will find a way to take issue and curb your speech.
Even MS-13 is an identifiable group by Twitter’s standards. Better watch out Mr. President!
Fake News Media had me calling Immigrants, or Illegal Immigrants, “Animals.” Wrong! They were begrudgingly forced to withdraw their stories. I referred to MS 13 Gang Members as “Animals,” a big difference – and so true. Fake News got it purposely wrong, as usual!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2018
Another terrorist attack in London…These animals are crazy and must be dealt with through toughness and strength!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2018
Anyways, you see the problem here, right? It gets worse.
Their definition for “dehumanization” practically makes harsh criticism impossible:
Dehumanization: Language that treats others as less than human. Dehumanization can occur when others are denied of human qualities (animalistic dehumanization) or when others are denied of their human nature (mechanistic dehumanization). Examples can include comparing groups to animals and viruses (animalistic), or reducing groups to a tool for some other purpose (mechanistic).
Just to go on record here, I have already protested to Twitter over the banning of Mark Zuckerberg robot tweets (mechanistic dehumanization). But seriously folks, I can’t tell you the number of times I have referred to Democrat politicians as “parasites” for some action of theirs that was genuinely parasitic. Under these rules, I’m a dead man walking if I don’t scrub my Twitter!
While civility is certainly an ideal worth aiming for, sometimes it is quite difficult to politely describe the most malevolent actors in our political circus. When these men and women truly behave in an inhumane, or, excuse me, an in-human manner, why must we refrain from commenting with distaste commensurate with their degree of barbarism? The suggestion that we shouldn’t respond in-kind is laughable!
As for the examples of bad behavior provided by Twitter…
Before we wrap this up, let’s turn out attention to just one last detail in the madness, the first example Twitter posted:
Twitter is unclear about which part of this tweet is the offending portion and that might be done intentionally to provide them the most room to work with later when adjudicating reports.
This is a major problem since the first sentence is a necessary component to political speech. Sovereign peoples must be able to discuss foreign groups and determine whether or not they have any interest in integrating them into their society. To be able to express that you do not want X to enter your nation is perhaps the most basic principle of nationhood.
Further, if it is just the latter statement that matters, the animalistic portion, Twitter should clarify this immediately. Unfortunately, they’ve already set a precedent for how to handle tweets discussing Islam in the past, so this really doesn’t need much clarification.
It was President Trump’s retweeting of a Britain First leader’s tweet that resulted in her account being terminated for hate speech. She merely criticized Islam broadly and posted videos to support her argument—not that the media afforded her fair treatment, of course.
Considering these details, I can only assume that this decision will either blow up in Twitter’s face as an unmanageable disaster, or be applied so unjustly that things are essentially business as usual with an extra dose of purging.
Twitter has cast its die
Rep Mullins reading from Sarah Jeong's tweets about white people during the hearing with Jack Dorsey earlier today. pic.twitter.com/TIN9pMa5nL
— Brett MacDonald (@TweetBrettMac) September 5, 2018
Twitter has been under fire from multiple fronts as all sides of the political spectrum have been scrutinizing the behavior of the tech giant’s handling of content posted on their platform. While conservatives have reasonably requested that Twitter simply keep their hands off any content that is lawful in the region that it was posted in, liberals have been actively pressuring the micro-blogging platform to flex its private property prerogative and further restrict the statements that it allows users to make.
Now that Twitter is intending to cave to leftist reactionaries, the future of the platform is uncertain.