Welcome to 1984: Twitter to monitor, sanction users for offline behavior

On Friday, Breitbart.com reported that Twitter now plans to monitor the offline behavior of so-called “verified” users — those with a blue check mark by their name — to determine whether their actions are within Twitter’s rules.

According to The Verge:

The gist is this: if a user breaks Twitter’s rules on Twitter — that is to say, by tweeting — that user will still be disciplined in all the usual ways, a spokesperson said. What’s new is that Twitter now plans to do at least some monitoring of verified users’ offline behavior as well, to determine whether it is consistent with its rules. If it isn’t, users can lose their badges. And so a hypothetical verified user who tweeted nothing but pictures of kittens but organized Nazi rallies for a living could now retain his tweeting privileges, but lose his verification badge.

Here’s the key phrase: “Reasons for removal may reflect behaviors on and off Twitter.”

That’s right.  What you do OFF Twitter will now be used against you by the site.

Twitter, Mashable said, has “given users until December 18, 2017, when it will then begin enforcing the rule.”

Breitbart added:

“The month-long wait is due to regulations in the European Union that require companies to inform users of a new policy change 30 days prior to enforcement,” they claimed, adding that the “deadline also applies to using ‘hateful images or symbols’ in profile images or profile headers.”

“Twitter will also monitor for hate speech in usernames, display names, and profile bios,” Mashable concluded.

On Wednesday, several conservative users lost their verification badges, which were originally implemented on Twitter to show that an account was official.

Anti-Islam activist, author, and commentator Tommy Robinson, and commentator Laura Loomer both lost their verification badges, along with alt-right thought-leaders Richard B. Spencer, Jason Kessler, and James Allsup.

So how will Twitter enforce this rule?  With spies?

The Verge addressed this as well:

Many questions remain unanswered. What will the company’s “review” consist of? How will it examine users’ offline behavior? Will it simply respond to reports, or will it actively look for violations? Will it handle the work with its existing team, or will it expand its trust and safety team? The company declined to comment.

For most of its life, the verification program existed only to authenticate the identities of high-profile Twitter users. That changed in January 2016, when the company stripped far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos of his badge. For the first time, the badge seemed to carry a hint of endorsement from Twitter itself.

With this week’s changes, Twitter has now made that endorsement explicit. A badge is now more than a marker of identity — it’s a badge of approval, as well. This seems likely to increase the number of public battles Twitter faces over who deserves to be verified — and who deserves to lose their badge. The final policy is still in development. But the direction it’s heading in looks clear.

Indeed.  It looks very much like something George Orwell might have included in his novels.

Welcome to 1984…

Exit question: How long before Facebook decides to implement this rule?


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Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad
Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad – Source: Author (used with permission)

Joe Newby

A 10-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Joe ran for a city council position in Riverside, Calif., in 1991 and managed successful campaigns for the Idaho state legislature. Co-author of "Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad," Joe wrote for Examiner.com from 2010 until it closed in 2016 and his work has been published at Newsbusters, Spokane Faith and Values and other sites. He now runs the Conservative Firing Line.

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