The Guardian Weekly - UK (2022-05-06)

(EriveltonMoraes) #1

The Guardian Weekly 6 May 2022

14 The big story

theory of online free speech and
make the platform unpalatable for
users and governments alike, or
admit that times (and Twitter) have
changed and he needs an approach
that maximises the platform’s value
for everyone, users and public alike.
David Kaye is a law professor at the
University of California, Irvine and
author of Speech Police: The Global
Strugg le to Govern the Internet

Users are right to be worried

Jillian York

For more than a decade, people
around the world have come to
rely on Twitter’s microblogging
service as if it were the global town
square. Although it has come with
its fair share of problems, Twitter’s
policy and safety teams have made
signifi cant strides in recent years to
improve user experience.
As such, those users are right to
be worried about the company’s
purchase by Musk. He’s made
numerous oblique references to
free speech on the platform, but
his minimal elaborations about
what that means to him have been
contradictory at best. Musk calls
himself a free speech “absolutist”
but has emphasised his desire to
defeat the site’s spam bots and
“authenticat[e] all humans.” Doing
so would probably require users to
submit identifi cation of some sort,
eff ectively ending real anonymity
on the platform and creating a risky
proposition for many users around
the world, who may be wary about
handing over their ID to a platform
that complies with government
requests for data.
International users should be
cautious: in a recent interview with
TED founder Chris Anderson, Musk
stated that he thinks “obviously
Twitter or any forum is bound
by the laws of the country that it
operates in ”. While true , this ignores
Twitter’s long history of aggressively
fi ghting in court to protect users’
free speech rights , and refusing legal
demands to remove content when
deemed unjust.
If Musk retains the company’s
experienced teams and can learn to
listen to experts, Twitter may be just
fi ne. But if he continues to operate
with the same level of hubris that
got him here, it may be time for us to
start looking for a new online home.

Jillian York is the director for
international freedom of expression
at the Electronic Frontier Foundation
and the author of Silicon Values:
The Future of Free Speech Under
Surveillance Capitalism

Will Twitter keep in mind the
benefi ts of anonymity?
Jeff Kosseff
Much of the discussion about
Musk’s Twitter purchase has
focused on how the platform’s
content moderation practices may
change. That is a vital issue, but it is
not the only one.
Twitter has a longstanding
policy of allowing users to
operate pseudonymously. Unlike
competitors such as Facebook,
Twitter does not require users to
operate under their real names.
“We’re not wedded to pseudonyms,”
then-Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said
in 2011, “we’re wedded to letting
people use the service in the way
they see fi t.”
Twitter’s anonymity-friendly
policies have allowed members of
many marginali sed groups to use
the platform in ways that they never
would have been able to had they
been required to post under their
real names: political dissidents
around the world, domestic abuse
victims, and so many others.
We do not know what, if any,
changes to these policies Musk
plans. In a news release announcing
the purchase , Musk included
“authenticating all humans” as one
of his goals for improving Twitter,
but did not specify how. Perhaps
authentication would mean a
technology – such as C aptcha –
that does not require disclosure of
identifying information. Or Twitter
may off er all users the option of
having verifi ed accounts, but still
allow pseudonymous posters who
do not verify their identities. A
far more troubling route would be
to require all users to verify their
identities. As Twitter fi gures out

how it plans to authenticate all
humans, I hope it will keep in mind
the benefi ts of anonymity to so
many people.
Jeff Kosseff is an associate professor
of cybersecurity law at the US Naval
Academy. The views expressed are
only his and do not represent the
Naval Academy, navy, or defen ce

A symbol of the US and a
policy fail ure
Roger McNamee
Elon Musk’s acquisition of
Twitter is emblematic of the US
in 2022: a nation dominated by
plutocrats whose freedom to
operate is unconstrained by laws or
countervailing power.
The directors of Twitter, a public
company, accepted a $46.5 bn
go-private off er from a billionaire
who approached them without
a plan, fi nancing, or having
followed Securities and Exchange
Commission (SEC) rules for such
transactions. The deal will take
place at a price signifi cantly below
where Twitter’s stock traded last
summer, and was consummated
in a matter of days, limiting the
opportunity for alternative bidders
to compete. The notion that a serial
violator of SEC rules can undertake
one of the largest go-private
transactions in history without
regulatory scrutiny is disappointing,
but not surprising.
Musk has a great opportunity.
Despite being the most important
internet platform for politicians,
celebrities and journalists, Twitter
has never achieved its fi nancial
potential, and has a cumulative net
loss since inception. The product is
deeply fl awed. Moderation policies
have failed to prevent Twitter from
becoming “a hellsite” overrun by
harmful content.
We do not know if Musk will
make Twitter better, but the fact
that unaccountable billionaires like
Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have so
much infl uence on our democracy is
a policy failure.
Roger McNamee is the founding
partner of venture capital fi rm
Elevation Partners. He was an early
investor in Facebook and an advis er
to Mark Zuckerberg. He is also the
author of Zucked: Waking up to the
Facebook Catastrophe

That billionaires have
so much infl uence on

our democracy is a
policy failure
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