Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Twitter goes full libnanny with ban on "hateful conduct"

Another commercial giant bows to the fears of the herd:

Twitter has updated their site rules to prohibit "behavior intended to harass, intimidate, or use fear to silence another user's voice." According to the new rules, "You may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability or disease." This follows criticism that Twitter (and other social networks) haven't done enough to prevent the ramblings of the Islamic State and other terrorist groups. -- Slashdot

As usual, the glitch here is a lack of definitions and examples. How do we know what was intended to "harass, intimidate or use fear to silence another user's voice"? That's a subjective (which means "nonsense") definition because it is interpreted by the user who is feeling the offense. That offense varies with their mental state, intelligence and mortal fortitude. For some users, simply disagreeing with them will provoke fear. For others, it is use of the "wrong" pronoun -- xe will be offended. Publishing facts, statistics and viewpoints regarding touchstones like race, sexual identity and religion could also create this fear, harassment and intimidation.

Again, I say: the wrong way to censor speech is by content. The right way is by form, saying that facts and logical arguments are OK, but slurs directed at specific users are not. Then again, Twitter has the ability to block people, so it's unlikely that even that is needed. And if ISIS -- the paper tiger bogeyman of the day -- is using it to organize, that's part of the nature of online services. Suzy uses it to plan parties, Dave uses it to organize beer pong nights, and Achmed -- well, he has his hobbies too. Deal with it. The whole world needs to grow a pair and quit being so twitchy.

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