When I first started using Twitter eight years ago, it was still a more-or-less open platform where I was able to interact with folks of all sorts of political persuasions, but by 2015, it had evolved into a space much less friendly to conservatives. I was one of the first conservatives permanently banned, allegedly because I was engaged in “targeted abuse” of a leftwing political operative. I was also one of the few to have one of my accounts restored when it turned out the allegations against me were false. Twitter appeared to have learned from that episode and became more careful in the way they describe their reasons for lockouts and bans. By being nebulous about their “Rules” they’ve managed to avoid making provably false statements about punished users, protecting the company from defamation claims.
That changed this year. Twitter is now willing to punish users who publish truthful material and to publicly state a false reason for the punishment. The case of the @nypost account lockdown is but one example. Yes, Twitter has now admitted that the Post‘s story was factual and based on documents that weren’t hacked, but as I write this, the @nypost account is still locked.
Based on what I can see, it looks as if Twitter is afraid of the likely changes in the regulatory and legal environments that could come during a second Trump administration, not just for the leftwing causes the company and many of its employees support, but also for the company’s own power in the marketplace. It’s not that Twitter has nothing to lose. It’s more like they feel they have everything to lose and are willing to sacrifice (the stock price tanked after @jack’s testimony this week) to save a failing business model—and their sense of importance and control. They’re all in.
Meanwhile in the Real World (and the part of the Internet that intersects with it), Twitter’s attempts at suppressing truthful reporting on the Hunter Biden story have backfired.
Barbara Streisand and Brett Kimberlin were unavailable for comment.
UPDATE—Twitter has unlocked the @nypost account without requiring the newspaper to take down it tweets to truthful news stories. Also, institutional investors took an aggregate loss somewhere north of 2 billion dollars over this week’s drop in Twitter’s stock price. The Gentle Reader may remember that I have suggested that the market may provide corrective action for the misbehavior of various social media companies faster than any government.