Conservatives have been wondering if all the banning and shadowbanning (essentially artificially limiting the reach of accounts by controlling who can see their content) happening on Twitter is targeting one side of the political aisle over the other for some time now. Spend any time on the platform and one comes across users openly wondering why their replies aren’t being seen or their tweets aren’t showing up in followers feeds. And they’re almost exclusively conservatives.
It’s not hard to imagine that what’s going on is something more than paranoia when Jack Dorsey (“Just Jack” as I like to call him for you Will and Grace fans) is thumbs-upping articles about how conservatives should basically be shadowbanned from political dialogue forever and for good.
“At some point, one side or the other must win – and win big. The side resisting change … must be thoroughly defeated, ” the piece recommends. Jack thought is was a “great read.”
And for rational conservatives, the recent bans of accounts that walk the fine line of promoting limited government mixed in with the rhetoric of alt-right craziness like Milo Yiannopoulos or InfoWars’ Alex Jones, while disconcerting and troubling from a free speech perspective (they spew nonsense but they have a right to spew it) , didn’t ruffle feathers quite like what happened this week when Marine veteran and radio host Jesse Kelly was permanently banned from the site. And apparently for no real reason.
Kelly has written about Twitter’s banning of Alex Jones and warned that the speech police will be coming after conservatives next. “They do not want to compete in a marketplace of ideas. Their goal is to silence dissenting voices,” he wrote.
The “no real reason” part would appear to be in violation of Twitter’s terms of service, but the company is not really behaving contrite about it. And, while Kelly certainly rubbed liberals and non-Trump conservatives the wrong way frequently, some of those he criticized seem to have come to the defense of — if not him — anyone who finds themselves on the wrong end of a private company that may have a political agenda and is used as a platform for speaking out.
Jesse Kelly can’t stand me. And I think his tribal war scalping stuff is stupid and wrong.
But that doesn’t matter much compared to the bigger picture here: The trend of de-platforming and shutting down speech is a bad precedent for our free speech society. https://t.co/V11v6uDZY3
— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) November 26, 2018
Many have wondered why Kelly should be banned when accounts that threaten people with violence or refer to Jews as “termites” (like Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan’s) or are overt funders and supporters of terrorism (like Hamas’ official account) remain open.
It’s an excellent question. But until Just Jack chooses to answer, it’s not unfair to wonder if perhaps Dorsey is using his platform to shut down voices he thinks are “resisting change” and amplifying others. And if that’s the case, he may not like where that takes him given that the platform has long been used by conservative voices who found themselves shunned by traditional media.
They are, whether he likes it or not, his base.
It’s an interesting strategy, Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off for him.