A Twitter employee announced that the platform is “exploring new controls” for a filter that automatically prevents users from having to see “potentially harmful or offensive” replies.
The next step for Big Tech censorship may be preventing users from having to see rhetoric they disagree with in the first place. “We’re exploring new controls called ‘Filter’ and ‘Limit’ that could help you keep potentially harmful content — and people who might create that content — away from your replies,” Twitter employee Paula Barcante explained in a Sept. 24 tweet. She then explained that the feature is in its early stages and that Twitter is still looking for commentary from users. “These are early ideas, so we’d love your feedback,” explained Barcante. With Filter’s help, she continued, “potentially harmful replies to your Tweet wouldn’t be shown to you or anyone else. People who open your Tweet would see a message reminding them to avoid offensive and harmful language.”
Part of what makes Filter so sinister is that it qualifies users based upon their history of activity on the platform. “If an account with a recent pattern of rule-breaking or potentially harmful behavior tried replying to your Tweet while you have Limit on, this is an example of what they would see,” wrote Barcante.
A phrase as vague as “potentially harmful or offensive” would be disastrous for online discourse, as Twitter algorithms will essentially be deciding what may or may not be too offensive for consumption by the general public.
Barcante then summarized via example: “Let’s say someone tries to send a potentially harmful or offensive reply to your Tweet. When you have Filter on, no one would be able to see their reply (except for them).”
She admitted that Filter would not always be accurate, even by the platform’s own liberal standards “These would be automated controls so they may not be accurate 100% of the time. That’s why we’re also exploring the option to let you review any replies we’ve filtered and accounts we’ve limited to undo those actions.”
Twitter has a scandal ridden history of testing controversial filters and moderation tools.
It announced a new feature in May 2020 that would nag users if they were about to post a tweet including “language that could be harmful.” Since then, “Twitter has now annoyed users further by surveying them on their ethnicity when they make a statement that Twitter finds problematic,” ReclaimTheNet reported August 13.
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