Twitter Flags Foreign Policy Expert Tweeting Criticism Of China

Twitter LogoWe have previously discussed Twitter’s robust censorship program that repeatedly has been denounced for bias in taking sides on scientificsocial, and political controversies. The problem is that, when you have an army of censors with their thumbs on buttons to flag or bar comments, the tendency is ever expanding levels of censorship. Indeed, much censorship is not thumbless through automatic systems to remove certain comments. That was evident this week. Not only did Twitter flag a picture of a veteran wishing the country a Happy Fourth of July (presumably due to his combat scars) but it flagged New Zealand foreign policy expert Anne-Marie Brady who mocked the Chinese government.  The incident is particularly notable after Twitter recently admitted to censoring criticism of India’s government.

Brady is a professor at the University of Canterbury and an authority on the Chinese regime. Like many, Brady mocked the recent Communist Party’s over-the-top celebration of Chinese President Xi Jinping. She soon found that some of her tweets were “unavailable,” Twitter’s version of being “disappeared.”

What happened next is all-too-familiar: nothing. Brady tried to get someone to respond to the censorship and received no answer. Indeed, Twitter makes it extraordinarily difficult to reach anyone on such issues. While professing commitment to transparency, the company is notorious for being unresponsive and closed to criticism, even efforts to learn why actions have been taken on such tweets. It was only after Edward Lucas, a journalist for the Times of Britain, inquired that the company finally responded to him rather than Brady.  Her account was then restored without an apology or acknowledgement. Brady dryly noted “Seems like @Twitter may have briefly forgotten they don’t work for Xi Jinping.”

The assumption is that this is the work of Chinese agents who submit a torrent of complaints to trigger a flagging. Various groups have used the same technique to cancel opposing views. Twitter does nothing about it. Rather than have a presumption in favor of free speech, it automatically flags material pending proof that it is worthy of publication. That often means that it does not disagree with Twitter’s own view of certain sensitive subjects. Absent media coverage, the Chinese would likely have succeeded in silencing Brady with the help of Twitter.

As discussed earlier, members of Congress are now pushing for public and private censorship on the internet and in other forums. They are being joined by an unprecedented alliance of academics, writers and activists calling for everything from censorship to incarceration to blacklists. For example, an article published in The Atlantic by Harvard law professor Jack Goldsmith and University of Arizona law professor Andrew Keane Woods called for Chinese-style censorship of the internet, stating that “in the great debate of the past two decades about freedom versus control of the network, China was largely right and the United States was largely wrong.”

Much of the effort by politicians and activists has been directed at using Big Tech to censor or bar opposing viewpoints, seeking to achieve indirectly what cannot be achieved directly in curtailing free speech. Congress could never engage in this type of raw content discrimination between news organizations under the First Amendment.

However, it can use its influence on private companies to limit free speech. The move makes obvious sense if the desire is to shape and control opinion — the essence of state-controlled media. Controlling speech on certain platforms is meaningless if citizens can still hear opposing views from other sources. You must not only control the narrative but also eliminate alternatives to it.





71 thoughts on “Twitter Flags Foreign Policy Expert Tweeting Criticism Of China”

  1. We must strengthen, not weaken, the controls that Google, Twitter, Facebook, and all the other Presstitutes have over our lives. They are the guardians of our Kangaroo Court System’s Communazi foundation and their vital roles in promoting the Communazi ideology shall not be infringed or diminished in any way.

  2. Meanwhile China plans to move into the vacuum left by the departing US and NATO forces in Afghanistan and spend trillions on their road and rail system. I’ve been through the Kyber Pass on several occasions. It is one of the only road systems that connects the east to the west. Whoever controls it, controls a strategic bottleneck in transportation. If China wanted to bring the west to their knees, they could stop shipping things like shoes, clothes, and key industrial products. It wouldn’t take long. US firms and politicians have sold out our workers and our people for their 30 pieces of silver. How can we compete against slave labor? Who here would work 72 hours per week for a salary of 400 dollars per month? Good thing they have nets around the stairs and windows of their factories to prevent the workers from jumping to their death. Who speakers for their exploited workers?

    The CCP are not our friends. If I were them, I would be thrilled to watch people fighting among themselves in our country and acting like babies. We’re doing the work for them. We live in a dangerous world and our hope of survival is to stay unified. I would love to know who is really behind this movement to stir people up and stoke anger and discontent. The propaganda methods we are experiencing are classic and this movement feels orchestrated.

  3. As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Trump approaches 1
    Books variation on Godwins Law:

  4. It is a strange world indeed. Tweet anything negative about Russia you like, no problem. Tweet any thing negative about China and they shut you down. Maybe there’s more money to be made in China. Twitter and the NBA are just shootin a few hoops and havin a few brewskis together in Red Square.

  5. Sam, if a privately owned newspaper would not allow Black people to respond in the papers comment section would you say that the paper is justified because they are a private enterprise. You would protest from the rooftops that their right to free speech Was being trampled upon. For those with whom you do not agree you exclaim “your a private business so you have a right to shut them down”. We know you for the great freedom fighter you are.

    1. “You would protest from the rooftops that their right to free speech Was being trampled upon.”

      No I wouldn’t. I would protest that such a policy is racist and immoral. But there is no such thing as the “right” to force others to provide you with a platform for your speech. It is the government’s function to protect individual rights, including property rights — not to legislate morality.

      For those who believe that Facebook, Twitter, et al. are guilty of “censorship” — how do you define “censorship”? If you claim to see it and know what it is, you ought to be able to define it.

      When Leftists throws around terms such as “extremist” and “racism,” the Right (quite properly) excoriates them for not defining their terms. Now the shoe’s on the other foot.

  6. “I don’t like those ideas and opinions. The government should use its police powers to ban them.”

    “I do like those ideas and opinions. The government should use its police powers to compel companies to publicize them.”

    Some of you reject the first, while promoting the second — which is, of course, a contradiction. (And, incidentally, a bizarre argument from those who are allegedly worried about “big government.”)

    Additionally, some of you are framing this as a “free speech” issue (which it is *not*). Perhaps you have not read or do not understand the meaning of the First Amendment:

    “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech. . .”

    1A is clearly and expressly a limitation on *government* power, not on private action. Nowhere does 1A state, as some of you are implying: “Government has the power to compel private citizens to publicize the speech of others.”

    You’re angry. I get it. But please do not use your emotions to sully the Bill of Rights, and to gut the meaning of “free speech.”

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