Illustration: Liu Rui/GT
Russian officials are poised to announce a ban on Twitter within weeks, if the US platform fails to comply with demands to take down unlawful posts featuring child pornography, calls for suicide and drug use, according to RT on Tuesday.
Russia has filed over 28,000 preliminary and repeated orders to Twitter to delete unlawful links and publications, but Twitter failed to completely meet relevant requirements. As a response, Russia said earlier this month it would begin slowing down the speed of traffic on Twitter.
In Western public opinion, this is once again classified as an issue of “violating” the freedom of speech.
But the actual situation is: When can Twitter take real action against content that viciously slanders Russia and China? Under the control of Twitter, the voices maliciously attacking the two countries have always been flowing freely on the platform. But pro-China and pro-Russia voices have been restricted. The public opinion situation on Twitter is lopsided. Should this be the situation of a social media platform that claims to be free and balanced?
Twitter is full of vicious rumors and slander against China and Russia, but Twitter chose to turn a blind eye to the situation. For example, an American netizen said on Twitter that “Russia is going to hack into our government” and many others are calling Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines “fake.” Russia’s most basic demand for Twitter is to delete illegal content including those that incite the suicide of minors, contain indecent images of children, and information on drug use.
This is a basic moral requirement that is universal. But Twitter has failed to meet even these requirements. “There is a lot of disgusting content on Twitter, but Twitter calls it ‘freedom,'” a Chinese netizen said.
And recently, some observers in Myanmar aroused anti-China information on Twitter. A netizen shared a picture of a cannonball-shaped bottle, saying that is “proof China is helping Myanmar terrorist military coup.” However, the truth is that the bottles are actually containers for Chinese-made liquor. Also, Kyaw Win, founder and executive director of Burma Human Rights Network, said on Twitter on Friday that “If one civilian killed one Chinese factory will become ashes.” Such intimidating contents still exist on the platform.
However, Twitter announced in June 2020 that it removed more than 30,000 accounts linked to China, Russia and Turkey related to “state-linked information operations.” And according to VOA, during the 2019 chaos in Hong Kong, Twitter also deleted more than 900 accounts that regarded Hong Kong rioters as violent, saying these accounts were part of “a coordinated state-backed operation.” It is not that Twitter does not have a censorship mechanism, but its censorship is defined from the perspective of US interests and values. And such censorship is not rules-based management, but ideological actions.
In this case, Twitter’s so-called freedom of speech and censorship standards seem increasingly absurd. Obviously, Twitter has been promoting guidelines that are consistent with the interests of the US government.
The “freedom of speech” that the US promotes is one-sided. This kind of trick seems naive and hypocritical. It has only one purpose, that is to set up an iron curtain of public opinion against China and Russia.
For China, Russia and other countries that have different ideologies with the US, Twitter’s moves are a provocation. Social media platforms such as Twitter are actually helping the US government launch a disinformation war against countries that it considers hostile. Other countries will not allow Twitter to openly slander them while operating on their land without any limits.