Let's face it -- Twitter caved to Erdogan on free speech

“The Turkish government asked Twitter to censor its opponents right before an election and @elonmusk,” tweeted journalist Matthew Yglesias on Saturday, adding that this “should generate some interesting Twitter Files reporting.” In the Twitter Files, journalists with access to the company’s internal documents detailed censorship requests by the U.S. government and others, and the ways previous Twitter leadership dealt with them.

Musk responded: “Did your brain fall out of your head, Yglesias? The choice is have Twitter throttled in its entirety or limit access to some tweets. Which one do you want?”

But providing people in authoritarian regimes with a false sense of public opinion while doing their leaders’ bidding hardly helps foster civil liberties.

If Erdogan wanted to suppress opposition content and his only way to make that happen was to throttle all of Twitter, it would presumably be a more difficult call. And if he still chose censorship, it would also force him to alert—and often anger—Turkish citizens in the process.

Instead, Musk made a quasi-dictator’s job easier.

[It’s the same argument made by Google, Microsoft, and Facebook in their continuing business relationship with China. They build censorship engines and rationalize it either by claiming to help protect *some* level of open speech, or occasionally just with their bottom lines. It’s a bad argument. If Erdogan had shut down Twitter, that would have been a clear and overt act of suppression that could have had severe electoral consequences. Instead, as Nolan Brown argues, Musk make Erdogan’s censorship silent and insidious, the worst of all outcomes. — Ed]

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