Twitter Chairman supports free speech even when it is uncomfortable to him
An Iranian immigrant and tech leader, Omid Kordestani stated his philosophical opposition to censoring speech on Twitter: including dark ones. Kordestani was once the highest paid Google employee. He then later quit and joined Twitter for his current position. In his recent interview with Bloomberg, he expresses the idea that “passionate opinions” from all viewpoints need to be given a voice. The 53-year old entrepreneur believes that giving a voice to those without one is a key part of Twitter’s core service. This comes after recent drama on Twitter involving Jonathan Weisman, a writer at NY Times. Weisman apparently left twitter following a barrage of racist tweets directed at him.
This could be at odds with the direction that others like CEO Jack Dorsey, have insinuated publicly. Jack Dorsey is not alone in this. It is not a secret that technology companies struggle with hate speech. Every company in the Valley has its own way of dealing with this issue.
Finding A less tyrannical solution to obtain clean digital media
One of the few, oft-overlooked rights that exist in the free world, is the right for an individual to express themselves. As the form of expression in the modern day has shifted to social media, tech giants are faced with the very hard problem of drawing boundaries for their users. While one side argues that censoring words create equality, the other side defends the liberty to insult. These type of political debates are naturally most heated around those media that are the most popular – such as Twitter. However, it is far from being the only company with this problem.
A good example of a company going to extreme measures would be Facebook’s 3000 new hires to counter hate speech. This is part of FB’s larger campaign to provide a uniform and “safe” platform for users. Some argue that this is nothing more than thinly veiled thought-policing. Despite having a noble cause, Facebook’s approach is rather brute force.
The Snap Solution
Snap (formerly SnapChat) is another large media giant, that does seem like it may have to have to deal with these kinds of issues. However they have a smarter, and less tyrannical solution to the fake news problem. Snapchat makes it a point to not show users how many followers they have. Users spread their own popularity by making content that people may choose to view, without considering how many followers they have. This is an elegant solution, as hate speech is largely amplified by few leading voices, and legions of support choruses.
Snapchat also controls hate speech, and fake news by providing distinct platforms for individuals and content-makers. While not censored, it is impossible for a bigoted individual to gain the kind of footing on Snapchat that a media organization would.
In today’s cat-and-mouse world of censorship, and rule breaking, it will be interesting to see who breaks the cycle and comes up with an organic, win-win technological solution.