In the wake of Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, New York Times political reporter Jeremy Peters mocked conservatives for suggesting Twitter was biased against conservative ideas and posts in “Vowing to Quit Twitter Is Popular. Actually Leaving Is Hard.” But the Times itself suggested otherwise in another article.
It was the moment conservative Twitter tried to cancel itself.
Major social media networks were moving aggressively to crack down on serial spreaders of false and potentially inciting information, as myths about Covid and voter fraud swirled around the 2020 election. Right-wing commentators and activists vowed en masse to delete their accounts.
This animalistic desription of a popular conservative didn't bode well for balanace:
They included political figures like the former White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, and popular media personalities like Dan Bongino, who made a chest-thumping, expletive-flecked rant urging fans to follow him to the alt-social media universe of platforms -- they now include Parler, Rumble, Gettr, Gab and the Trump-branded Truth Social -- where he said they would be free from the “tech tyrants” of Twitter, Google and Facebook.
It didn’t take. Then, as now, it often seemed that the sport of taunting partisan adversaries in a forum they shared -- “owning the libs” as many conservatives called this favorite pastime -- was how some social media users had the most fun....
Peters acknowledged, in the most passive possible way, that yeah, conservatives are being shouted down and otherwise denied free speech on college campuses, a place where free inquiry and exchange of ideas should be paramount. No big deal, apparently.
The assertion by conservatives that they are shouted down in the public square is not altogether untrue, if the metric is measured in a specific way -- say, by mainstream conservative speakers who are no longer regulars on the college lecture circuit.
But on Twitter, voices from the right remain ample and well represented. Research has shown that Twitter’s algorithms have not stifled the spread of content from right-leaning sources, nor have they silenced right-wing political parties around the world….
He cited as undisputed a study from Twitter itself suggesting otherwise, although that “audit” focused on the accounts of politicians from seven countries, not U.S. conservative Twitter users, and had other admitted limitations.
A recent audit conducted by researchers at Twitter that looked at millions of Tweets from April to August 2020 found that the algorithms that determine what content users see actually amplified Tweets from right-wing lawmakers in seven countries, including the United States, more than for left-wing lawmakers.
In contradiction, the Times itself ran a story by Charles Homans on Tuesday noting an MIT study that found
…during a six-month period immediately before and after the 2020 election, more than a third of the Republicans’ accounts they reviewed were suspended -- nearly five times as large a share as Democrats’.
Right-wing accounts were never purged from Twitter to the degree that the sometimes overblown commentary suggests, though some high-profile users have been temporarily suspended for violating standards meant to protect transgender people from harassment or to stop the spread of vaccine misinformation, for instance.
That’s an enormous caveat in bold above: Who gets to define “protecting transgender people” or “vaccine misinformation”? The Christian parody site The Babylon Bee was suspended for joking (in truth) that U.S. assistant secretary for health Rachel Levine, a biological male who presents as a "transgender woman,” was the site’s “Man of the Year.”
Twitter is now moving to ban “climate change disinformation,” whatever that may turn out to be. And somehow, Peters completely left out Twitter censoring the Hunter Biden laptop story during the final days of the 2020 presidential election.