So, the other day, Richard Spencer, whose goal is to one day have a Whites only State, had his Twitter account reinstated and verified by Twitter. Let’s be blunt, since I get to talk here in this space; Spencer is a White Supremacist. His views are hateful and vile. In the US, with certain narrow exceptions, the government cannot interfere with his right to say vile things.
Twitter has always said they value free speech. Even speech that others don’t like. Twitter is not the government, however. It’s their platform, and they get to set the rules of engagement. Twitter recently shut down ISIS related accounts. I’ve not heard they’ve been reinstated and verified.
What Twitter has done is say that this white male voice counts more than all the voices that have been and will be silenced or driven off the platform. They’d rather let this man speak than all the others Spencer and people like him target.
This isn’t an isolated experience.
Woman after woman after woman after woman, especially women of color, have been and are currently silenced because Twitter allows accounts that spew hatred to continue spewing hatred. They do this without giving the targets of that hated any tool to stay safe on Twitter or in their real lives.
Right now, there are a bunch of righteous white men at Twitter going, yeah, he’s vile, but he gets to speak! Free speech!
They say that because they’re part of the problem. They can’t hear women and people of color. They never have. They don’t hire these voices (because MERITOCRACY!!). And if somehow they do, they don’t listen to them.
Twitter gave Spencer back his voice back because the white men of Twitter, quite literally, cannot hear all the voices their policies and inaction have silenced. They think they’ve make a difficult decision to allow a man to voice his hatred. At twitter, one white man still counts more than a person of color or a woman.
If that weren’t true, there’d be effective tools for the targets of hate speech to keep their voices and their safety.