In the latest twist of logic for Elon Musk, his chaotic version of Twitter has now decided to flag Byline Times as an ‘unsafe’ site. Worse still, the article selected as “potentially spammy or unsafe” is an article by Josiah Mortimer on voter suppression, entitled “VOTER ID ‘It’s Far Worse than Any US State’“. Mortimer’s article examines the rushed roll out of mandatory voter ID for next May’s local elections, which have been widely condemned as voter suppression, particularly when it comes to young people.
Musk’s reader suppression
On 7 November, Byline Times published the article on voter suppression. This was tweeted out by the Electoral Reform Society, a leading and well-respected democracy campaign group. In fact, a group that already had the verified Blue Tick on Twitter (not one of the new ones you can buy for $8)!
But Twitter immediately added content warnings for anyone attempting to retweet the post or click through to the article.
Byline Times article
We would recommend that readers access and share the original article published in Byline Times, which as this Twitter user says, is ironically “one of the few remaining groups of real journalists in the UK”.
As Mortimer says, “the Government has been accused of ‘gerrymandering’ and ‘legalised voter suppression’ by pushing ahead with mandatory voter ID for next year’s May local elections, amid renewed concerns that young people will be locked out of voting”. It’s a move that commentators have said will “mirror US voter suppression”.
Musk has made much of being an advocate of free speech, and claimed before his takeover of Twitter that the social media platform would remain politically impartial. Yet within days of this, on the eve of the US mid-terms, Musk publicly called for people to vote for the Republican Party. So it begs the question, exactly what was it about the Byline Times article that the Twitter algorithms identified as ‘malicious’, ‘spammy’, ‘violent or misleading content’ or in any way broke Twitter’s rules?
Perhaps those rules have recently changed.
For modern news companies who rely on platforms like Twitter as part of their overall business model, this is a worrying turn of events. Peter Jukes, founder and executive editor at Byline Times responded to this blatant suppression of free speech, saying:
“This has never happened to us before. This sort of information suppression doesn’t bode well for Twitter, and it doesn’t bode well for democracy”.
You can read the original article on the Byline Times website here.