Do white supremacists have the right to be on Twitter? | The Tylt
Do white supremacists have the right to be on Twitter?
Critics argue this is no longer a free speech issue—these people are dangerous. Twitter has made major efforts to purge ISIS accounts from their platform, so why not American Nazis? Gizmodo is extremely critical of how Twitter has handled the problem.
Given how much it’s gone after ISIS sympathizers, why isn’t Twitter doing more to curb the rise of white nationalist groups? Its policies prohibit the promotion of violence or terrorism, but a short visit to white nationalist Twitterland very quickly shows that it’s full of Adolf Hitler supporters and calls to “secure the white race.”
There are constitutional and practical issues around banning white supremacists from Twitter. First, the protection of free speech really does exist to protect loathsome speech—speech the majority of people approve of doesn't require protection. Second, white supremacists congregating on Twitter allows them to be tracked and observed in ways that would be more difficult if they were banned from the platform. By allowing them in the public sphere, some argue we may be safer and better off than if we banish them.
Others say this is simply nonsense. Twitter is not public space—it is a privately owned platform, and its owners are refusing to take responsibility for users who promote threats and violence. You're not allowed to walk into a school or a business and start shouting "Heil Hitler" or "Death to the Jews." Jack and Co. just refuse to deal with the problem. As the Verge notes, getting involved might cost them money:
So far, Twitter has been reluctant to get into the Nazi-fighting business....Ultimately, Twitter’s hands-off approach to free speech is as much about economics as philosophy. A tech company’s single overpowering motive is to scale, to sell the same product to more and more people until it swallows the world....The hands-off approach to speech lets Twitter adopt a view from nowhere, ostensibly treating all speech as equal in the eyes of the platform.