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[liberationtech] Where can I find the Twitter censorship handbook?

Uncle Zzzen unclezzzen at gmail.com
Fri Dec 14 17:42:05 PST 2012


Warning for the politically-correct: this message contains the N-word. I
believe it is in context :)

I'm sorry I didn't respond to this in time and I now don't have links to
the tweets I mention, but I'm pretty sure other people on the list had
similar experiences.

In short: Twitter is excluding tweets by me and my friends based on
arbitrary (until proven otherwise) criteria. Here are 2 incidents.

1) The N-word incident
About a month ago, @MrChuckD ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuck_D ) has
tweeted that in his opinion, Twitter should censor tweets containing the
N-word. Me and another friend (independently of each other) have replied.
* I said something like "if you don't oppose censorship, you don't deserve
to be called a nigger"
* My friend said something like "and that's from someone who has a song
called [I don't wanna be called] yo nigga"
i.e. the n-word was "misspelled" in that case :)

Note: The content of these tweets is not brought here in order to express
or debate our opinions or style (we're both huge fans BTW), but to show
what might have triggered censorship filters (if that is the case), and the
actual semantics of the tweet.

We were then IMing about this to each other, and found out that when
looking at @MrChuckD's tweet (where all replies can be seen), none of us
could see our tweets or each other's.

2) The Bitcoin incident
A merchant friend has tweeted something as "we now accept #bitcoin [+ link
to "buy" page]"

Nobody (including the person who tweeted this) could see the tweet at the
#bitcoin hash tag. #bitcoin seemed to be fairly active during that time and
there were tweets within minutes (maybe even seconds) before and after that
tweet.

Now the first incident is alarming enough IMHO (I'm actively considering
moving my "business" to the identi.ca/OSub world), but I could live without
using the N-word (and half of my forking vocabulary) if there was a
"Twitter Censorship Handbook" or "Newspeak Dictionary" I could consult
(although from a usability perspective, I'd prefer getting a "please
rephrase that" pop-up). But the second incident gives me the creeps:
* What the fork WAS wrong with that tweet?
* Maybe it's a bug?
* Maybe twitter's filtering algorithm was hacked by competitors of that
merchant?
* Is there a way to contest such a decision (or even get an admission from
twitter that a tweet of mine WAS blocked, and preferably why)?

If twitter is a platform that is supposed to mobilize future "Arab
Springs", we have a real problem here - because the alternative is facebook
:)
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