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[liberationtech] liberationtech Digest, Vol 115, Issue 3

Jacob Appelbaum jacob at
Wed Aug 1 18:00:48 PDT 2012


I generally avoid engaging with you Catherine but I wanted to ask you
some very specific questions that almost beg to be asked by your email.

I have kept it on the list because I felt that if you could show
evidence for your claims, we'd all be better for it. If not, I figured
it would be nice to let these things air in the open.


Catherine Fitzpatrick:
> One shouldn't have to be literalist about the obvious *intent* of rules like this. They exist to prevent harassment, not to be 
> literalized to death. Twitter shouldn't be party to a lynch mob -- that's what this was, and that's what so many things on
> Twitter are these days, like the massive hate-ins over Chik-fil-A. 

Where does the rules, terms of service, or guidelines specifically say
they exist to prevent harassment?

I looked here: - the word harassment isn't even
on the web page one single time.

I looked here: - the same
is true, the word harassment isn't on that page either.

Furthermore, I looked here:

They specifically say:

"Users are allowed to post content, including potentially inflammatory
content, provided they do not violate the Twitter Terms of Service and
Rules. Twitter does not screen content and we do not remove potentially
offensive content unless such content is a violation of our Terms of

So no, actually, the intent of such rules is not as you suggest. It does
not even use the word harassment, so I think it's a stretch to say that
they exist to prevent harassment. They EXPLICITLY exist to protect users
who post "potentially inflammatory content" and they seem to qualify
that by saying it must violate the ToS.

************** Million Dollar question for you! ************************

Do you have an example twitter web page that shows where harassment is
specifically a goal or that reducing harassment is somehow their intent?


Should it be that way? I'm not sure. If that's the discussion, I think
that is one worth having. I think there is a lot of bad behavior online
and it sucks that Twitter isn't even remotely a safe space at times.
Ironically, the short space means that people with good intentions are
often misunderstood and those with bad intentions well, they're
sometimes the only thing that gets through clearly.

As an example - I've experienced harassment on Twitter. From you,
specifically. So - shall we talk about the literal nature or the intent?
Do you believe your actions have ever crossed the line into harassment
of me?

Generally, I've found blocking you to be a good solution and it doesn't
require Twitter to compromise. It just requires me to be the bigger
person and not engage with people who are being inflammatory.


Oh and regarding the "the massive hate-ins over Chik-fil-A" - do you
dispute that people are allowed to boycott, to talk about how wrong it
is that such a company promotes discrimination?

If such a company discriminated against hiring women, people of color,
die hard capitalists, or a guy with a GIANT AMERICAN FLAG on his car -
would that make it alright to have those conversations?

> And BTW, this illustrates a problem with all social media platforms. They are all businesses, not civic institutions, and that's ok.
> They are not bound by the First Amendment, but are practicing it themselves when they decide what kind of expression they
> want on their servers, and which kind of other business partners they want. That's all fine. That's what free enterprise and a 
> liberal democracy is all about. This idea that corporate responsibility involves parroting the kind of progressive expression 
> that you want has no validity in First Amendment jurisprudence.  It doesn't. 

That's part of the image that this company is pushing. They call
themselves the free wing of the free speech party regularly.

So if you mean it doesn't matter what they say, they're not legally
bound to honor their advertised nature, well, huh. I'm not sure how I
feel about truth in advertising. I think at the very least, it invites
someone to call them out about it but clearly, it invites little more.
Twitter doesn't owe anyone anything in this - so whatever they do,
they'll be credited by the "market" and their users accordingly.

> Corporations get to express what they like and
> police expression as they wish and fortunately, we have a choice. If the state backed them or there were only state 
> corporations, we could rightly object, but they are private companies so we have no grounds for

So I guess you're fine with their policies, even though they don't say
what you wish them to say?

Do you really believe you have absolutely no grounds for objection?
None? So you think the Somalian terrorists that use twitter, there is no
grounds for objection? Or do you mean, we have no right to regulate
their choices? One is very different from the other, right?

> Once again, for all those clutching their pearls about it, if you don't like Twitter's policies and uneven enforcement of their
> policies, which is common to all these big social media services, then you go to another one or you start your own. I'm for
> a free market in social media services with a range of toleration up to First Amendment level. Then you get what you get.
> It's either 4chan or Youtube comments or getting a net-nanny warning in your face on Facebook for using the word 

Actually, there are many alternatives. Part of what makes Twitter
interesting is that their policy is one of discussion. Their policies
are not made in the dark and this kind of civil dialog shapes their
policies. So what gives us a ground for objection, or even praise? At
the very least? Twitter regularly engages and talks with people, reaches
out and seeks to create such a dialog. Not the least of which, often,
takes place on Twitter.

> "breast" or typing too many messages at once. That's life in the big city of social media. The endless fretting about this
> and admonishing of these companies is really out of place, and takes away time and effort from the real victims of
> free speech violations in countries like Russia or Uzbekistan or Syria or Sudan. 

Do you really believe that no free speech violations happen outside of
those places? Do you believe Germany, the US, Canada, the UK and so on
have zero free speech violations? Do you dispute the validity of legal
cases that say otherwise? Or do you simply not know about them?

> Have Dave Winer make a darknet and then see who shows up. Or I hear Anonymous is making some kind of 
> social network.

What's a darknet in your world? Why would discussion be alright there
but not here or on Twitter?

All the best,

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