Twitter over the weekend was flooded with spam and suggestive ads in what appears to be an attempt to help the Chinese government hide news about rioters protesting coronavirus restrictions in China.
“Chinese bots are flooding Twitter with ‘escort ads’, possibly to make it more difficult for Chinese users to access information about the mass protests,” wrote Mengyu Dong, a researcher with the Stanford Internet Observatory, a social media research project, in a Twitter post. “Some of these [accounts] have been dormant for years, only to become active yesterday after protests broke out in China.”
Alex Stamos, director of the Stanford Internet Observatory, said via Twitter that he’d previously warned about the risks billionaire Elon Musk was taking by cutting so many of the company’s staff and that this appears to be the first major failure to stop a government interference campaign under Musk’s leadership.
I wonder how many people in China even have access to Twitter? It’s been officially banned there for a long time. Seems like anyone going through the effort to circumvent the ban would already be well aware of these protests from foreign media sources.
So in summary: there is now a crowd-sourced verification tool for Twitter’s crowd-sourced verification tool. The site’s VP of Product, Keith Coleman, followed up to clarify in his own post that site users would be responsible for determining a note’s quality, not Twitter itself.
Unchecked child sexual abuse content is already tangibly affecting Twitter’s business: Both Dyson and Forbes have suspended advertising on the platform after their ads appeared directly next to child abuse content. Contrary to Musk’s pathetic rants against companies that refuse to advertise on Twitter for supposedly opposing free speech, not wanting to associate your brand with child sexual abuse actually sounds like free speech to me.
Any doubts in advertising now? et tu Apple?
Meanwhile, as some Twitter users say they’re reporting content promoting pedophilia and being told no violations were found, Musk is busy cracking down on 15-year-olds who tweet, “maybe if elon musk didn’t buy avocado toast he wouldn’t be asking us for $8.”
I have been reading Josh Marshall’s new newsletter, and I found the following excerpt insightful:
Let’s start with the simple observation that it’s not ideal to have the owner of one of the world’s largest and most influential communication platforms operating in a social and political milieu of white nationalists and international outlaws. What captures my attention, though, is the process, the trajectory. It’s what we might call a narcissism/radicalization maelstrom and it mirrors what you could observe with Donald Trump in 2015 and 2016.
It’s clear that Donald Trump had dark political impulses and beliefs going back decades. He put his cards on the table clearly enough when he announced his presidential campaign with denunciations of Mexican immigrants as rapists and murderers. But his politics weren’t as fleshed out ideologically or as clearly articulated as they would soon become. You could watch in his online interactions how his ego followed the praise and fawning. His narcissism pulled him toward the people who became his most loyal online devotees and they were routinely and unsurprisingly the most ardent white nationalists and far-right agitators. They showed up increasingly in his Twitter timeline. He started engaging with them and promoting them. The point isn’t that Trump was some kind of naif pulled into a radicalization spiral. He had all the building blocks. I doubt very much that in mid-2015 Trump had any real familiarity with the arcana of racist and radical right groups, their keywords or ideological touch-points. But they knew he was one of them, perhaps even more than he did. They pledged their undying devotion and his narcissism did the rest.
Elon Musk is on the same path. There are various theories purporting to explain Musk’s hard right turn: a childhood in apartheid South Africa, his connection with Peter Thiel, disappointments in his personal life. Whatever the truth of the matter, whatever right-leaning tendencies he may have had before a couple years ago appear to have been latent or unformed. Now the transformation is almost complete. He’s done with general “free speech” grievance and springing for alternative viewpoints. He’s routinely pushing all the far right storylines from woke groomers to Great Replacement.
i think when you include birtherism and, even earlier, the central park five, it’s pretty clear what ■■■■■ thought. it’s more a question of whether anyone was paying attention
[in 1989] Trump infamously took out full-page ads in New York City newspapers calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty in conjunction with the arrests of the five teenagers accused of the brutal rape of a white female jogger in Central Park three decades ago. The case is now seen as an example of racial injustice within the U.S. legal system, but Trump has never apologized
( edit to make it clearer that the bit i quoted was itself a quote )
Trump’s politics got fleshed out in the sense that he collected white supremacist talking points that he was missing before. Just like his proposal to build a wall developed details like that Mexico would pay for it, because he said that once and all the worst people cheered.