Josh Hawley Thinks We Should Break Up Twitter Because He Doesn't Like The Company's Editorial Choices
from the you-fascist-karen dept
As I just made clear, I’m no fan of Twitter’s new “private media” policy, which I think comes from a well-meaning place, but will lead to widespread abuse by malicious actors seeking to hide evidence of bad behavior (indeed, there’s evidence this is already happening). But that’s no excuse for Senator Josh Hawley (supporter of the January 6th insurrection, and who seems to think his job as Senator from the confused state of Missouri is to product manage internet services). Hawley reacted to this new policy by saying that it’s a reason to break up Twitter. He says “we oughta break them up” at the end of a very bizarre interview with Fox News host Pete Hegseth.
We’ll get to the other nonsense from Hegseth and Hawley in a moment, but let’s start by focusing on the “we oughta break them up” line. First off, he’s clearly saying that the company needs to be broken up in response to the company’s editorial decisions. That’s… just a blatant violation of the 1st Amendment. Hell, just imagine how he (or Hegseth!) would respond to a Democratic Senator saying Fox should be “broken up” because of the company’s editorial bias. I imagine both Hawley and Hegseth would go nuts about such unconstitutional overreach. But here, Hawley suggests breaking up Twitter in response to its editorial choices, and Hegseth seems happy to support that position.
That’s because neither of them have any principles. They’re fine with ignoring the Constitution if it allows them to attack their perceived ideological enemies.
Second, under what possible theory would you “break Twitter up” here. Twitter is relatively small as a social media player. Reports from about a month ago show Twitter as the 15th largest social media service globally. Even in just the US, it appears that Twitter comes in at least 7th place and possibly lower, depending on WhatsApp and TikTok’s growth.
So the company, in no way, qualifies for any sort of antitrust treatment no matter how you look at it. The only possible reason to suggest that we should “break up” Twitter is because you disagree with their policies, which is a blatantly authoritarian position. Which, well, fits when we’re talking about Josh Hawley.
As for Hegseth, his little bit of pandering is ridiculous as well. After mispronouncing both the first and last name of Twitter’s new CEO, Parag Agrawal, he blames Agrawal for the new policy (that surely was planned much earlier). He then goes on a rant about how this policy is “meant to protect” antifa and Black Lives Matter protestors, but insists that it won’t be used to protect conservatives.
Of course, as we showed in our original post, nearly all of the examples of enforcement so far have gone the other way. The policy has been used to takedown images and videos of Trumpists and white nationalists who didn’t like being called out by others. But, never expect a Fox News host to let facts get in the way of winding up the ignorant base. Hegseth also fails to mention the fact that the policy doesn’t apply to public figures or newsworthy events — and names multiple public figures and newsworthy situations that he insists will be “censored” under the policy. Basically, pure disinformation.
He then says:
It gives the social media platform even more control, which is scary. More control over what can be shown. And more proof that they are, indeed, a publisher, and not simply (eyeroll) an unbiased platform.
Except basically all of that is bullshit. Twitter has always had control over what it does and does not allow on its platform. That’s how terms of service work. It’s no different from the fact that Fox News and Hegseth would never have me on Fox News to explain to his face why he’s an ignorant, pandering fool. Because that’s their editorial discretion. That’s the right of Fox News, just as it’s the right of Twitter. Hell, Twitter allows WAY MORE speech on its platform that its executives disagree with than Fox News ever has and ever will.
And to then trot out the bogus and meaningless “publisher” / “platform” distinction (and throwing in a gratuitous and meaningless “unbiased”) makes no sense. A publisher has 1st Amendment rights to choose what to host and what not to. And Twitter was never an “unbiased platform.” That’s just something that people made up to attack the company.
Hegseth then claims that Twitter will now use this to censor content “they don’t want you to see.” Which is… not at all how this works. He then brings on Hawley, who rambles on bizarrely and disconnected from reality. He insists that this won’t be used to “protect the privacy of conservatives,” which is nonsense. Again, all of the examples we’ve seen of content being taken down are examples of it being Hawley’s fans and supporters who are abusing this new policy to hide their own bad behavior. Hawley then flat out lies about how Twitter operates, claiming that Twitter “tracks us around the web” builds a “dossier” on us and “sells our information.” Twitter… doesn’t actually do that? None of these companies “sell our information.” They sell advertising, which is targeted based on our information but that’s very different. And while you could say that Google and Facebook “track us,” Twitter really doesn’t except in the most limited of ways.
This is just random rage from Hawley in which he throws in a bunch of catchy sayings that don’t actually apply to Twitter, because it riles up his ignorant base (the only kind of people who would ever support Hawley, apparently) and then calls for the company to be broken up. It’s cynical, hypocritical and disgusting — or basically a Josh Hawley specialty.