The actions reflected how the platforms have increasingly cracked down on content that is hateful or threatening to groups based on race, religion and other factors over the years.
But a changing ownership and legal landscape for the industry could soon change that.
Instagram, owned by Facebook parent company Meta, suspended Ye on Friday after he suggested another rapper was controlled by Jews, a common anti-Semitic trope.
Shortly after, Ye was kicked off his Twitter account for separately tweeting that he would go “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.”
Like my colleague Will Oremus and I wrote last night, “a conservative-led movement to curb what some see as ‘censorship’ by Silicon Valley giants is poised to change their approach to such decisions.”
Under an embattled Texas law signed last year, social media companies can’t ‘censor a user’ based on their ‘view’, a protection that could shield posts like Ye’s from the rules. social networks against content widely decried as hateful or threatening.
The law exempts cases where the content “directly incites criminal activity or consists of specific threats of targeted violence against a person or group” based on characteristics such as race or religion. But it’s unclear whether Ye’s Twitter remarks would meet the legal standard of incitement, given that they have not yet been linked “directly” to criminal activity.
The platforms also might not view the remarks as a sufficiently “specific” threat of violence, given that Ye used a euphemism and spoke broadly of a protected religious class.
Ye’s previous Instagram post that relied on anti-Semitic tropes appears less likely to be protected by the law’s exemption, given that it contained no overt threats or calls for violence.
Under Texas law, users like Ye could argue that such remarks are considered a legally protected viewpoint that social media platforms are not allowed to “censor.”
Twitter and Instagram declined to say which specific rules Ye’s posts violated.
“Texas law denies websites the choice to decide whether this content is appropriate for their users or not,” Carl Szabovice president of technology trade group NetChoice, said of Ye’s tweet.
Netchoice, which counts Facebook, Twitter and Amazon among its members, is pushing for the Texas law to be struck down in court. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
Uncertainty about whether a vague but threatening anti-Semitic message would be protected by Texas law could prompt platforms to play it safe and leave it, fearing legal repercussions if they take it down.
“It illustrates the incredible difficulty of knowing what you are supposed to do as a platform operating in Texas,” Daphne Keller, who directs Stanford University’s program on platform regulation, told Will. “Certainly the safest thing to do is leave it on, and that may be what the law really requires.”
Legal experts have warned that the dynamic could have a chilling effect on companies’ moderation efforts and lead to a proliferation of hate speech online.
Elon Musk, who recently renewed his push to buy Twitter, also hinted that he is likely to scale back the platform’s content moderation practices, albeit in vague terms.
Musk called himself a ‘free speech absolutist’ and denounced some of Twitter’s most high-profile decisions, including its suspension of the former president. donald trump.
Musk initially declined to comment on Ye’s tweet, while giving the rapper a warm welcome back to the site, tweeting on Saturday, “Welcome to Twitter my friend!” But Monday, Musk tweeted“I spoke to you today and expressed my concerns about his recent tweet, which I think he took to heart.”
A slew of conservative leaders have called on Musk to take the reins of Twitter and crack down on “censorship” of the platform, saying it would be a victory for “free speech”.
Some Republican lawmakers have openly called on Musk to scale back the company’s efforts to specifically address hate speech. Here is the rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Arizona):
Twitter is expanding Birdwatch, and covid-19 topics have been checked most often
Last week, the platform’s fact-checking tool was extended to all users, the Verge’s Corin Faifé reports. Twitter executives suggested the tool would be the most powerful for moderating posts that aren’t covered by Twitter’s misinformation policies or don’t get fact-checking resources from the company. but the topics dominating the tool are already covered by the company’s disinformation policies, Faife reports.
“Birdwatch data posted by Twitter shows that covid-related topics are by far the most common topic discussed in Birdwatch notes,” Faife writes. “Additionally, many accounts that posted the annotated tweets have since been suspended, suggesting that Twitter’s internal review process detects content violations and is taking action.”
Shares of major Chinese tech companies and chipmakers tumble following US curbs
A Chinese semiconductor index fell nearly 7% and some chipmakers had an even worse trading day, Reuters reports. The reaction from Chinese markets came days after the US government announced sweeping restrictions to limit Chinese access to chips.
“The measures will hamper China’s chip industry and sabotage many growth plans and potentially stunt innovation in both East and West,” AJ Bell analyst Danni told Reuters. Hewson. “Many boardrooms will be hosting high-level meetings over the next few days given the implications of US export controls.”
Billionaire tech investor says he’s officially renounced Russian citizenship
Yuri Milnerborn in Russia, tweeted Monday that his family “officially completed the process of renouncing our Russian citizenship” this summer, but he did not explain the timing of the tweet and a spokeswoman declined to comment, the Wall Street Journal reported. Joseph Pisani reports.
Milner’s technology investment firm, DST Global, has invested in Facebook, Twitter, Snap and Airbnb, among others. On his website he says he has no assets in Russia and has not been there since 2014.
- representing Ro Khanna (D-California) and President of MIT L. Raphael Reif discuss American innovation at a Washington Post Live event today at 1:30 p.m.
- Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) and Governor of Indiana. Eric J. Holcomb (R) Discuss flea law and science at a Washington Post live event Thursday at 1:30 p.m.