Meet the Conspiracy Theorist Behind Twitter’s ‘Crisis Misinformation Policy’

Twitter’s pick to stop the spread of misinformation in times of crisis has a history of pushing falsehoods.

Yoel Roth, the head of Twitter’s safety and integrity unit, unveiled the site’s “crisis misinformation policy” on Thursday. In a blog post, Roth outlined how Twitter will place warning labels on tweets deemed to contain misinformation and prevent them from being “amplified or recommended” in times of armed conflict, natural disasters, or public health emergencies.

Roth is a questionable pick to launch the policy, given his own track record with misinformation. Roth oversaw Twitter’s decision to block the sharing of an October 2020 New York Post report on emails from Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop. Roth told the Federal Election Commission he made the decision based on “rumors” shared by the United States government’s intelligence community that the Russian government might release materials hacked from Hunter Biden.

There has been no credible evidence that Biden’s laptop was hacked, or that Russia played a role in publishing emails from it. Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey later admitted that blocking the article was “a total mistake.”

Roth came under fire earlier in 2020 for referring to Trump officials as “actual Nazis” in a 2017 tweet. He also called Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) a “bag of farts.”

Keep reading

Twitter To Ramp Up Censorship Of ‘Misinformation’ About The Ukraine War

Twitter has published what it calls a “crisis misinformation policy” announcing that it will be actively reducing the visibility of content found to be false which pertains to “situations of armed conflict, public health emergencies, and large-scale natural disasters.”

If you’ve been paying attention to the dramatic escalations in online censorship we’ve been seeing in 2022, it will not surprise you to learn that the Ukraine war is the first crisis to which this new censorship policy will be applied.

Twitter says that it “won’t amplify or recommend content” found to violate its new policy, and will also attach warning labels to individual tweets and even hide offending content behind a warning label and disable the retweet function on particularly naughty posts.

The problem here is of course the question of how to impartially establish whether something is objectively false without it turning into at best a flawed system guided by fallible human biases and perceptual filters and at worst a powerful institution shutting down unauthorized speech. Twitter says it formed its new policy with input from unnamed “global experts and human rights organizations,” and will be enforcing it with the help of “conflict monitoring groups, humanitarian organizations, open-source investigators, journalists, and more.” This will come as no comfort to anyone who’s familiar with the history of propaganda peddling that can be found in every single one of those respective categories.

Keep reading

‘They’re Going To Get Their Ministry Of Truth One Way Or The Other’: Twitter Announces ‘Crisis Misinformation Policy’

Just one day after the White House confirmed that the Department of Homeland Security’s Disinformation Governance Board had been put on hold — and that board chief Nina Jankowicz had resigned — Twitter announced plans to implement a new “crisis misinformation policy.”

The plan, according to a tweet from @TwitterSafety, would be implemented to ensure that Twitter as a platform did not amplify or contribute to the spread of misinformation.

“People turn to Twitter during crisis times to share news, find support, and stay connected. Today, we’re launching a crisis misinformation policy so Twitter doesn’t recommend or amplify viral, false content that can further harm already vulnerable groups,” the tweet read.

“We’ve been refining our approach to crisis misinformation, drawing on input from global experts and human rights organizations. As part of this new framework, we’ll start adding warning notices on high visibility misleading Tweets related to the war in Ukraine,” the thread continued.

Keep reading

Half of Joe Biden’s Twitter Followers Are Fake, Audit Reveals

Almost half of President Joe Biden‘s current 22.2 million followers on Twitter are fake accounts, according to an audit tool provided by software company SparkToro.

SparkToro’s tool found that 49.3 percent of accounts following the official @POTUS Twitter account are “fake followers” based on analysis of a number of factors, including location issues, default profile images and new users.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who is currently trying to buy Twitter, has expressed concerns about the number of fake accounts and a potential crack down could see users such as Biden lose a huge number of followers.

Musk said early on Tuesday that his $44-billion deal to purchase the social media company could not go ahead until issues with fake accounts were resolved and he appeared to criticize Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal.

Keep reading

Twitter Allows White House to Make ‘Clearly False’ Claim That COVID Vaccine Wasn’t Available Until Biden Era

Twitter’s policy has been banishment of accounts posting COVID-19 misinformation, so will the official White House account suffer that punishment?

“When President Biden took office, millions were unemployed and there was no vaccine available,” says a Thursday afternoon post to the verified White House account. It segued from there to talk about unemployment numbers.

The bold lie that there was no vaccine available is even more astonishing when considering President Joe Biden was fully vaccinated before his Inauguration Day ceremony.

Mainstream media documented the availability of COVID-19 vaccines beginning with Pfizer’s announcement of an effective coronavirus vaccine six days after the election. A December 10, 2020, report by The Washington Post credited former President Donald Trump with proving naysayers wrong by making good on his promise to have a vaccine ready within months.

Keep reading

Twitter Locks Out the Tennessee Star Over Factual Reporting

Twitter on Friday locked the Tennessee Star out of its account over reporting a factual story. 

The outlet reported on Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signing a bill into law making Ivermectin available over-the-counter. 

The article said that Lee signed SB 2188 into law after it was approved by a vast majority of both the Tennessee House and Senate.

“Lee signed SB 2188, approved by the State Senate, 66-20, and the State House, 22-6, which authorizes a pharmacist to provide ivermectin to patients 18 years of age or older, ‘pursuant to a valid collaborative pharmacy practice agreement containing a non-patient-specific prescriptive order and standardized procedures developed and executed by one or more authorized prescribers,’” the report read.

Twitter said the reporting may pose a risk to public health and thus, the outlet would be banned from posting anything for several hours.

“As a result, we’ve added a label to the above Tweet(s) and temporarily limited some of your account features,” the site said. “While in this state, you can still browse Twitter, but you’re limited to only sending Direct Messages to your followers – no Tweets, Retweets, follows or likes.” 

The Tennessee Star appealed the initial decision, then received another automated message saying the account could be locked for a week or more. 

Keep reading

Panicked CNN Guest Wonders “How We’re Going To Control The Channels Of Communications In This Country”

A CNN talking head declared Sunday that if Elon Musk is allowed to buy Twitter, the platform will have to be government regulated to prevent ‘discourse’ being open and free, and not subject to establishment controlled censorship.

While discussing the Musk take-over on CNN’s potato time with Brain Stelter, “media analyst” David Zurawik proclaimed that Musk is “dangerous” and shouldn’t be allowed to restore free speech on the platform.

Zurawik suggested that the U.S. look to Europe, which has recently brought in new laws to limit social media, and even threatened to ban Twitter if Musk doesn’t play ball.

“There’s a bigger problem here about how we’re going to control the channels of communications in this country,” Zurawik frothed, panicking at the notion of the likes of CNN not being able to dictate what Americans think.

“This is dangerous! We can’t think anymore in this country!” Zurawik whined, adding “I’m serious! We don’t have people in Congress who can make regulations, that can make it work.”

“I think we can look to the Western countries in Europe for how they are trying to limit it. But you need controls on this,” the talking slap head continued.

“You need regulation. You cannot let these guys control discourse in this country or we are headed to hell,” Zurawik further suggested.

“We are there,” he added, further claiming that “Trump opened the gates of hell and now they’re chasing us down.”

“We gave over what amounts to our airwaves or our internet waves to Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, and we are in so much trouble because those guys believe in making money,” he said.

Keep reading

Time writer knocks free speech as an ‘obsession of the mostly white, male members of the tech elite’ like Musk

In a Friday piece for Time magazine, the outlet’s national correspondent Charlotte Alter dismissed Elon Musk’s quest for free speech on Twitter as a white male “obsession,” and merely an entrepreneurial way to acquire influence and power in the world.

She also claimed that Musk’s idea of free speech is about the right to spread “disinformation” and has nothing to do with the Founding Fathers’ original intent.

Alter began her piece by insinuating that Musk should have put his $44 billion into something more worthwhile than what he sees as “free speech,” a phrase she put in scare quotes throughout the piece.

She wrote, “They say that something is worth what someone will pay for it. If that’s true, then protecting ‘free speech,’ which Elon Musk has cited as a central reason he agreed to buy Twitter for $44 billion this week, may be worth twice as much as solving America’s homelessness problem, and seven times as much as solving world hunger.”

She added, “It’s worth more (to him, at least) than educating every child in nearly 50 countries, more than the GDP of Serbia, Jordan, or Paraguay.”

The author then proceeded to wonder why a rich techie like Musk would even care about freedom of speech and how it “had become paramount concern of the techno-moral universe.”

She asked, “Why does Musk care so much about this? Why would a guy who has pushed the boundaries of electric-vehicle manufacturing and plumbed the limits of commercial space flight care about who can say what on Twitter?”

She then cited professor of communication at Stanford University Fred Turner for the answer, who agreed, “It does seem to be a dominant obsession with the most elite.” He stated, “[F]ree speech seems to be much more of an obsession among men,” and part of “the entrepreneurial push: I did it in business, I did it in space, and now I’m going to do it in the world.

Keep reading

Twitter Lawyer Who Cried in Musk Meeting Was Instrumental in Banning Trump

The Twitter lawyer who broke down crying during a meeting about the ramifications of Elon Musk’s takeover of the social media company was previously instrumental in banning President Trump as well as censoring information about the COVID lab leak theory.

Yesterday, it was revealed that Twitter’s top lawyer, Vijaya Gadde, was reduced to tears during a virtual meeting with the company’s policy and legal teams following Musk’s successful purchase of the platform.

According to Politico, “Gadde cried during the meeting as she expressed concerns about how the company could change,” and “acknowledged that there are significant uncertainties about what the company will look like under Musk’s leadership.”

Gadde was presumably upset by the fact that her power to censor individuals and content may now be restricted under Musk’s leadership.

As head of Trust and Safety, Gadde was hugely influential in defining the company’s view of “hate speech” and was also instrumental in crafting the “healthy conversations” narrative that Twitter has used an excuse to censor blatantly factual information, such as the assertion that ‘trans women’ are not biological men.

Keep reading