In the wake of banishing President Donald Trump from the platform permanently, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey told his company’s employees they could expect more in the future.
“We are focused on one account [Trump] right now, but this is going to be much bigger than just one account, and it’s going to go on for much longer than just this day, this week and the next few weeks. It’s going to go on beyond the inauguration,” Dorsey said in a video captured by a whistleblower and shared by Project Veritas.
Meanwhile, conservative accounts have continued to see an across-the-board drop in follower counts on Twitter.
I’m not sure if this is due to mass-nuking of conservative accounts by Twitter, conservatives leaving the platform voluntarily in protest of the Trump ban, or some combination of both, but accounts with large conservative followers are seeing a massive plunge in follower counts: pic.twitter.com/I7sC8WNnRj
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) January 9, 2021
The social media giant confirmed it was in the process of culling accounts, telling the Daily Caller News Foundation that it would “take strong enforcement action on behavior that has the potential to lead to offline harm, and given the renewed potential for violence surrounding this type of behavior in the coming days, we will permanently suspend accounts that are solely dedicated to sharing QAnon content.” Twitter declined to say how many accounts were involved.
Whether or not Donald Trump deserved to be memory-holed will long be a bone of contention, although it’s worth noting the reason given for the ban was two of his weaker tweets, issued after he’d been locked out in the wake of the Capitol riot.
In one, he said he wouldn’t be attending Joe Biden’s inauguration; in the other, he talked about his supporters having a “GIANT VOICE long into the future” and said, “They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”
Twitter took both as an incitement of violence and said the second was proof he wasn’t going “facilitate an ‘orderly transition.'” As pretexts go, that’s weak, and it came after an election season in which almost every Republican who brought up any questions about election integrity — especially Trump — got a warning label slapped on their tweet.
Meanwhile, QAnon is one of the more daft conspiracy theories of our or any time — and certainly a popular crackdown target after the Capitol riot. Whether or not these were all QAnon-related accounts remains to be seen, if it can or will ever be shown, however. We’re just supposed to trust a platform with a very low trust rating right now.
The language that Twitter used is interesting, though — about how it would “take strong enforcement action on behavior that has the potential to lead to offline harm.” Apparently, Chinese state officials excusing and denying the existence of Uighur concentration camps in Xinjiang province doesn’t have any potential to lead to offline harm.
“Forced labor” is the biggest lie of the century aimed to restrict and suppress the relevant Chinese authorities and companies and contain China’s development.
— Hua Chunying 华春莹 (@SpokespersonCHN) January 14, 2021
That’s Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying tweeting Thursday that claims of Uighur “‘[f]orced labor’ is the biggest lie of the century aimed to restrict and suppress the relevant Chinese authorities and companies and contain China’s development.”
In a further tweet, Hua shared a propaganda video that tried to play off the work camps as job-training facilities and claimed the United States was lying about them for our own benefit.
The #US both creates lies and takes egregious actions based on its lies to violate intl trade rules and principles of market economy, undermine global industrial and value chains, and damage the interests of companies and consumers all over the world including those in the US.
— Hua Chunying 华春莹 (@SpokespersonCHN) January 14, 2021
“The #US both creates lies and takes egregious actions based on its lies to violate intl trade rules and principles of market economy, undermine global industrial and value chains, and damage the interests of companies and consumers all over the world including those in the US,” Hua wrote.
The first tweet links to the transcript of a news conference on the subject of Xinjiang which Hua believed, against her better judgment, was exculpatory to the Chinese case.
“First of all, I want to make it clear that there has been no so-called ‘concentration camps’ in Xinjiang. However, some foreign politicians and media are holding ill-intentions, labeling vocational education and training centers in Xinjiang as ‘concentration camps,'” one official said.
“The vocational education and training centers legally established in Xinjiang were actually schools with the character of de-radicalization, which are no different in essence from the ‘community corrections’ enforced in the U.S., the [Desistance and Disengagement Programme] in the UK, and the de-radicalization centers in France, all being conducive attempt and proactive exploration for preventive counter-terrorism and de-radicalization. All of the trainees graduated in October 2019 and secured stable employment with the help of the government and started a happy life with increasingly improved quality.”
Every single one of them.
Twitter told Fox News this didn’t violate its terms of service and that Hua’s tweets were already labeled as coming from a Chinese government account.
“We believe this is an important step so that when people see an account discussing geopolitical issues from another country, they have context on its national affiliation and are better informed about who they represent,” Twitter’s guidance on the matter reads.
But not better informed about the Uighur camps that China insists, against all evidence, are voluntary vocational centers.
In 2018, according to Reuters, a United Nations human rights report found credible evidence that up to 1 million Uighurs, a majority-Muslim ethnic group, were in these camps.
In 2019, a data leak of official Chinese Communist Party documents obtained by the BBC and NBC News detailed that far from being voluntary, the camps were run like high-security prisons. “Never allow escapes,” “[i]ncrease discipline and punishment of behavioral violations,” “promote the repentance and confession of the students for them to understand deeply the illegal, criminal, and dangerous nature of their past behavior” and “[ensure] full video surveillance coverage of dormitories and classrooms free of blind spots” was some of the language used.
Video obtained by the BBC purported to show the conditions inside the camps.
Reportedly taken by a model named Merdan Ghappar, who relatives said was forced to enter the camps in August 2019 then sent back to Xinjiang months later following his initial release, the footage shows him handcuffed to his metal bed frame as anti-Uighur re-education propaganda blares from a loudspeaker outside.
An Associated Press investigation published in June 2020, meanwhile, found that China was cutting the birth rate in Xinjiang province by forcing Uighur women to have abortions and undergo IUD implantation or sterilization procedures.
In the face of all of this evidence, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman is allowed to peddle the real “big lie” — that there are no human rights abuses against the Uighur people and they couldn’t be happier their communist overlords in Beijing are giving them all this relevant vocational training — because apparently people should be able to get the relevant context from the fact it’s flagged as a Chinese government account.
It’s worth pointing out that Twitter did draw the line at a tweet from the Chinese Embassy in the U.S. that said, “Study shows that in the process of eradicating extremism, the minds of Uygur women in Xinjiang were emancipated and gender equality and reproductive health were promoted, making them no longer baby-making machines.” After an outcry, that was taken down.
Uyghur women are not “emancipated” by forced abortions and sterilizations. pic.twitter.com/BZPEnUn6bq
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) January 11, 2021
Meanwhile, when it comes to conservatives on Twitter, Jack Dorsey and co. are planning on enforcement and censorship that’s “going to be much bigger than just one account,” something one can assume from context doesn’t just involve a few straggling QAnon believers.
You can also assume from context that it won’t involve Chinese government accounts, either.
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