When all semblance of neutrality is gone

We live in a world that for several years has been favoring extreme partisanship over dialogue - and the COVID-19 crisis is not helping...

Twitter got in hot water over the last couple of weeks, but what I find interesting is the reasons that happened. First incident involved a British grime artis, Wiley. He is extremely popular, with millions of followers. He had an argument with his Jewish manager, and went on twitter on a rampage; He used every antisemitic trope and extended his anger to all Jews. One would say that violated Twitter's terms of use... well, yes and no. Twitter acted only when British Jewish organizations brought the issue to the public protesting twitter's inaction; confronted with that, Twitter "permanently suspended the account". Once that happened, Wiley gave an interview to apologize to the Jews - and it didn't go well either. Looking at this case, one can ask oneself why Riley felt he could get away with publicly attack all Jews with antisemitic tropes. The answer? too many people have already gotten away with it and he felt that what he was doing was normal. He didn't feel he was insulting Jews, he just felt he wa sventing about those fu*** Jews who are giivng him troubles (namely his manager, who has since severed his relationship with the grime artist).

Case two: The President of the United States twitts like crazy, we all know that. No President before him twitted this much. Some of his twitts, we all need to agree, cross the line of good taste - but not more than other politicians and celebrities. One his twitts, seen as promoting violence, was put "Behind a shield" - this means that twitter put a warning about the content of the twitt, and if people want to see the twitt, they need to click again. It does look like a reasonable compromise... until you realize that so many others are doing the same thing but their twitts are not censored. Is there a double standard at play here?

Case three: Iranian leader Ali Khamanei never made a secret of his hatred for Israel and Jews. In many an occassion, he has twitted the need to destroy the Jewish State and called for Muslims to attack Jews wherever they are - especially after some bloody attack at a synagogue or Jewish institution. Some Jewish groups, given the recent move by Twitter to put POTUS's twitts "Behind a shield", asked Twitter how come they don't put Khamenei's twitts "Behind the shield". Twitter's answer: "He does not violate the terms of use" (???) When that answer was questioned, they retorted that Heads of State sometimes engage in emotionally charged comments as part of politics. It is nice that they give Khamanei some room and flexibility. I am puzzled,however, why isn't the President of the United States being extended the same courtesy?

I look back on the history of Twitter and realize that it started as a "free for all" space, when everybody was entitled to say anything. As time went by and the platform grew, some limitations were put in place; but those limitations seem to reflect what they perceive to be the mood of the market. So in that context, it is OK to foot-dragg until a Jewish organization protests rather than touching a British Grim idol; it is OK to put POTUS "behind a shield" because twitter's users do not like him (or so twitter thinks); it is also OK to let Khamenei get away with calls for Genocide because he is a colorful character and get people coming back to the platform, which is what Twitter REALLY cares about.

There have been recently similar issues with Facebook and for many of the same reasons. It also happened with TikTok and with Instagram. So you see, the issue with twitter is not the problem - it is a symptom. A symptom of a society in which the different Media is no longer driven by fairness and is no longer hold accountable; they make decisions based on the market - how many ads they can sell, how much airtime advertising, how many returning users to the Social platform. The commercialization of information is transforming Journalism in a profession more akin to a used-car dealer than a professional newsperson. Of course, there is always the internet news - carefully selected by algorithms working behind your browser to make sure you receive the news you wish to read; that way they will have you coming back...so they can sell more ads!



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