Twitter Facilitates Fascism
A short, rushed piece while it’s fresh in my mind
By now you may have noticed that Twitter has been limiting features/shadowbanning/whatever-you-wanna-call-it when people have been sending tweets with curse words at prominent accounts, those primarily associated with the fascist regime currently in power in the United States.
Ostensibly, as explained in the blurb given to a person who trips this function, this is to create a safer environment when it detects what Twitter deems abusive behavior.
This is a farce.
I don’t know if this function is triggered by an automatic process or by a human at Twitter; the examples I’ve seen so far suggest that it is an automatic process. But automatic processes are created by humans so that distinction is a distraction. Regardless, this fundamentally misunderstands abuse. So far, from the examples I’ve witnessed, it is activated when detecting an invective, vulgar language, a curse word, swearing, to put it simply. Fuck, shit, asshole, bitch, etcetera.
In the realm of simply theory, abusive people can be found by looking for curse words. In the real world however, that’s not how if works. Abuse is found when a person in power uses that power to force submission out of someone more vulnerable. This requires actual understanding of context, not an algorithm that detects curse words. Can that even be called an algorithm, a basic word search? Anyway, that’s beside the point.
The current fascist administration are abusers, using their acquired power to hurt people. This is an unquestionable fact, and intolerable. The curse words directed at them are, in this context, a reaction by victims to the abuse wrought against them. For Twitter to limit them because of the use of curse words, and not the fascist regime for their abusive actions, shows that Twitter fundamentally misunderstands abuse. They childishly see abuse as curse words, while neglecting abusive actions taken without curse words. They’re abetting abuse, rather than combating it. It’s a very white person thing, the kind of thing that a person who has never had to confront the privileged worldview into which they were born falls into and rarely escapes unless forced out.
Twitter facilitates fascism in this manner because they misunderstand polite language as non-abusive and impolite language as abusive, and never the twain shall cross. They fail to understand that abuse, especially institutional abuse, is often committed with a smile and polite language.
It is that moderate white neo-liberal viewpoint that cares more about not making waves than actually protecting the vulnerable. It’s can sometimes come off as trite to borrow from Dr. King so often, but this passage from “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” bears repeating.
First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
I admit I also see a more capitalistic modus operandi that springs out of the cynical part of my mind that I struggle with. Twitter doesn’t want to make waves because they want to profit. Controversy is unprofitable, especially sociopolitical issues. They’d rather everyone on their platform be filled with the bland whiteness that sells advertising to brands. They don’t care about individual humans because a company/corporation/organization can’t care. Only humans can care for other humans, and though I don’t deny that some people working at Twitter probably do care, those feelings are irrelevant until that translate into actual action.
So, Twitter, you are one of the many things responsible for facilitating the rise of fascism, and when people start dying, blood will be on your hands. This will be true for as long as you maintain false objectivity and continue to protect abusers instead of victims of abuse.