Here's how to kick nazis off your Twitter right now

Here's how to kick nazis off your Twitter right now
From TechCrunch - October 14, 2017

While you wait for Twitter to roll out more aggressive rules regarding hate speech, which CEO Jack Dorsey promised are coming within weeks as oflate Friday, heres a quick workaround to kick nazis off of your Twitter feed right now: Go to the Settings and privacy page and under the Content section set the country to Germany (or France).

This switches on Twitters per country nazi-blocking filter which the company built, all the way back in 2012, to comply with specific European hate speech laws that prohibit pro-Nazi content because, yknow, World War II.

Switching the country in your Twitter settings doesnt change the language, just the legal jurisdiction. So, basically, you get the same Twitter experience, just without so many of the Swastika wielding nazis.

In Germany incitement to hatred is deemed a criminal offense against public order, and nazi imagery, expressions of antisemitism, Holocaust denial and so on are effectively banned in the country.

Free speech is protected in the German constitution but the line is drawn at outlawed speechwhich, as programmer and blogger Kevin Marks has noted, is actually a result of the post-war political settlement applied by the triumphant allied forcesled by, er, the U.S

In a further irony, Twitters nazi blocking filter gained viral attention on Twitter last week when a Twitter user creatively couched it: One Weird Trick to get nazi imagery off Twitter. At the time of writing hertweet has racked up 16,000 likes and 6.6k retweets:

Dorseys pledge of effective action against hate tweets followed yet another storm of criticismabout how Twitter continues to enable harassment and abuse via its platform. Which in turn led to a spontaneous 24 hour boycotton Friday. Just before Dorsey tweet stormed to say the company would be rolling out new rules around unwanted sexual advances, non-consensual nudity, hate symbols, violent groups, and tweets that glorifies violence.

(i.e. the stuff women and other victims of online harassment have been telling Twitter to do for years and years.)

Yet in 2012, when Twitter announced the rollout of per country content blocking, it was absolutely sticking to its free speech guns that the tweets still must flowi.e. even nazi hate speech tweets, just in all other markets where this kind of hateful content is not literally illegal.

Indeed, Twitter said then that its rational for developing per country blocking was to minimize the strictures on free speech across its entire platform. Meaning that censured content (such as nazi hate tweets) would only be blocked for the smallest possible number of Twitter users.

Starting today, we give ourselves the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific countrywhile keeping it available in the rest of the world. We have also built in a way to communicate transparently to users when content is withheld, and why, the company wrote in 2012, saying also that it would evaluate each request [to withhold content] before taking any action.

So Twitters nazi filter was certainly not designed to be pro-active about blocking hate speechbut merely to react to specific, verified legal complaints.

One of our core values as a company is to defend and respect each users voice. We try to keep content up wherever and whenever we can, and we will be transparent with users when we cant. The Tweets must continue to flow, it wrote then.

Weve been working to reduce the scope of withholding, while increasing transparency, for a while, it went on to say, explaining the timing of the move. We have users all over the world and wanted to find a way to deal with requests in the least restrictive way.

More than five years on from Twitters restated conviction that tweets still must flow, tech platforms are increasingly under attack for failing to take responsibility for pro-actively moderating content on their platforms across a wide range of issues, from abuse and hate speech; to extremist propaganda and other illegal content; to economically incentivized misinformation; to politically incentivized disinformation.

Its fair to say that the political climate around online content has shifted as the usage and power of the platforms have grown, and as they have displaced and eroded the position of traditional media.

To the point where a phrase likethe tweets must flow now carries the unmistakable whiff of effluent.Because social media is in the spotlight as a feeder of anti-social, anti-civic impacts, and public opinion about the societal benefits of these platforms appears to be skewing towards the negative.


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