As we previously discussed, Twitter has become a lightening rod for the free speech community — repeatedly accused of content-based censorship and a liberal bias. Now Twitter is again being accused of a departure from the policy of unfettered free speech in the filtering of negative comments against President Barack Obama. The culprit of this latest violation is former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo who in 2015 allegedly ordered employees to remove abusive or offensive replies to President Obama during a Q & A session.
While Twitter and Costolo deny the story as inaccurate, they have refused repeatedly requests from the media to explain what precisely was inaccurate. They also failed to respond to requests from BuzzFeed before it ran the original story.
BuzzFeed cites former Twitter staffers who say that Costolo ordered them to deploy an algorithm to filter out abusive language directed at Obama. Staffers are described as upset by the decision. Theres is also an allegation that the site removed comments directed against Caitlyn Jenner.
It is bizarre that Twitter has not responded in detail to the story to refute the allegations. It was the same dismissive response shown earlier in the elimination of the account of Milo Yiannopoulos. The story may be inaccurate but, given Twitter’s past controversies, the onus is on the company to establish the facts. It is clear that Twitter is viewed by a wide array of users as hostile to the free speech principles that once defined the company. Twitter appears little concerned over these misgivings and appears even less inclined to take steps to guarantee an open and free forum for the exchange of ideas.