Twitter’s Censorship Spreads to Other CountriesBy Sofía Hanna | Wed, 01/27/2021 - 18:17
Twitter's new way of handling fake news has been highly criticized by users. Recently, the company announced a new measure to verify the information being uploaded to the platform, leading to the suspension of four accounts that caught the eye of the public. Concerns have reached such a level that in Mexico, discussions now address the creation of a new social network.
Birdwatch is Twitter’s new initiative to detect fake news. Through a selected group of users, the company verifies the information and adds commentaries or data that deny or contribute to what is being stated. Until now, this is just a pilot version being tested on a platform outside Twitter and so far, 1,000 people have been given the opportunity to verify data. The idea is to reach 100,000 people, approximately, according to Forbes.
Users are pointing out their concern regarding censorship and drastic restrictive measures. The debate reached a peak when Donald Trump was banned from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, as previously stated by MBN. "We can either stand for free expression … or we can decide the cost is simply too great. We must continue to stand for free expression," said Mark Zuckerberg after this. However, confusion remained.
On Jan. 22, Twitter also banned an account linked to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, due to threats against Trump. The company explained that the account had violated its "abusive behavior" and "spam" policy, as reported by CBS News. Even Mexico experienced this censorship. On Jan. 22, three accounts were suspended for alleged manipulation of the platform. The accounts belonged to people connected to Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration, all of them with an elevated number of followers, according to Forbes. "We do not allow spam or any other type of manipulation of the platform. This includes misleading information in the account profile to carry out spamming, blocking, or harassment," stated Twitter through its Twitter Seguro account.
Given these recent events, López Obrador said he will be bringing this issue up during the next G20 meeting and that his government will be exploring the possibility of creating a Mexican social network. "We care a lot about freedom. Therefore, we will address this issue so there is no censorship in Mexico," he said, according to Excelsior.
Mexico would not be the first country to develop its own social media. China developed Weibo in 2009 with the goal to replace other networks, which ended up being a way to keep people under surveillance and control. However, economically speaking, developing a Mexican social network is not among the top priorities, stated Pascal Beltrán del Río, a Mexican journalist, in an article by Excelsior.