Twitter Policy Head Addresses The UK Parliament Over The Topic Of Managing Online Discourse

While addressing The UK Parliament, a Twitter spokesperson argued that the platform is not meant to be a "wholly positive or nice place", in regards to a discussion regarding online moderation.

The moderation of online discourse and censorship has been a heatedly debated topic since the advent of social media. With events such as the recent US Capitol Riots, and subsequent news about how much of it originated via platforms such as Facebook, this debate has only been kicked into second gear. The involvement of government organizations in the regulation of international platforms has made the online landscape a bit more difficult to navigate. Yet, such discussion and involvement is important in order to create a safe space online that manages to avoid infringing on the basic human right to free speech.

Representing Twitter, Katy Minshall argued in the favour of allowing online discourse to continue mostly uninterrupted, citing movements such as #MeToo and Black Lives Matter as examples of movements that would only be suppressed by censorship laws. Ms. Minshall speaks from a place of expertise as well, acting as Twitter's Head of Public Policy in the United Kingdom. In this very context, she further elaborates that platforms such as Twitter, which highly revolve around opinionated discussion, act as mirrors that reflect inner societal problems and turmoil. Representing that mirror inherently means that Twitter cannot always be held to the standards of consistently wholesome, and must sometimes be allowed to delve into harsher topics.

Regarding the matter of hurtful discourse, Ms. Minshall clarifies that Twitter does take action in certain cases. If online debates are getting out of hand and users resort to harmful language, an AI bot will send pop-ups, dissuading these users from posting. She even further clarified the matter of removing the previous US president Donald Trump from the platform while allowing other potentially hate-mongering content online. Citing the case of Ayatollah Khameni's tweets against Israel and Zionism, Ms. Minshall states that such tweets were often left up in order to have such public figures left to the collective criticism and public debate of its community.

It should also be noted that a Facebook representative was also invited to join this parliamentary discussion. Facebook's spotty history with online discourse on the platform, as well as its recent involvement in the Capitol Riots gave users across the world cause for concern about the platform's future. As the company has set up its Oversight Board, and is planning for future communication between the Board and Facebook's general userbase, the company itself has come prepared for any sort of discussion on the matter. CEO Mark Zuckerberg, however, has been quoted by The Guardian as being unconcerned by the matter, stating that the company is willing to lose a small fraction of its revenue in order to preserve its policies.

H/T: Independent.

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