Thought Twitter Was Getting Better? New Label Shows Otherwise

May 4th, 2023 9:40 AM

Twitter says “freedom of speech, not reach” but actions speak louder than words. 

Twitter slapped a “visibility limited” label on NewsBusters News Analyst & Staff Writer Kevin Tober’s tweet when he shared a recent article he wrote. Tober’s tweet simply included the title of his article, "'Seen Him Stumble' ABC's Raddatz Confronts Chris Coons on Biden's Age." Yet, the platform labeled the tweet falsely claiming, "This Tweet may violate Twitter's rules against Hateful Conduct" and prevented Twitter users from commenting, retweeting, liking, bookmarking, sharing or embedding the tweet. 

Freedom of Speech, not reach? But freedom of speech for whom? Sure, Tober could hit send on his tweet, which now appears on his feed, but not one of his nearly 6,500 followers could share the tweet if they even saw it. What about their freedom of speech? The Twitter 2.0 approach ignores the reality of secondhand censorship. 

"'Freedom of speech, not reach,' is a catchy phrase, but it belies the fact that limiting and suppressing reach is in fact still censorship," said MRC Free Speech America & MRC Business Director Michael Morris.

What’s worse is that when Tober attempted to expose the blatant censorship in a second tweet, that tweet received the same label and restrictions. 

These restrictions come after Twitter announced its “freedom of speech, not reach” stance on content moderation last month. “Twitter users have the right to express their opinions and ideas without fear of censorship,” Twitter Safety wrote in a blog post. “We also believe it is our responsibility to keep users on our platform safe from content violating our Rules.” 

Unfortunately for Twitter owner Elon Musk, this is once again a more severe restriction than even the previous Twitter regime’s ubiquitous misleading content restrictions. Although abysmal themselves, the yesteryear restrictions allowed users to at least quote-tweet the content.

A recent MRC Free Speech America study found that this is a trend for Twitter. The damning study pointed out that censorship increased under Musk’s leadership and that the penalties for violating Twitter’s rules had become harsher and affected smaller accounts.  The platform recently changed its hateful conduct policy – which previously prohibited misgendering and deadnaming trans-identifying people – after the same study noted that a large section of Musk's Twitter censorship silenced those critical of the transgender ideology. 

Twitter head of Trust and Safety Ella Irwin did not respond to MRC Free Speech America’s request for an explanation by the time of publication

Conservatives are under attack. Contact Twitter at (415) 222-9670 and demand that Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency, clarity on so-called hate speech and equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us at the Media Research Center contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.