In media news today, Chris Cuomo’s suspension has been ‘challenging’ and ‘divisive’ for the network according to an insider, an NBC producer appears to admit ordering freelancer to tail the Rittenhouse jury bus, and the ACLU comes under fire for a tweet celebrating abortion.
New York Times editorial board member Greg Bensinger used the departure of former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to call for change at the tech giant, imploring new boss Parag Agrawal to do more to fight misinformation on the site and suggesting new ways to censor its users.
Bensinger urged Agrawal Wednesday to “restore trust” in the site by targeting the spread of misinformation, claimed it “sparingly enforced” community standards and suggested that, short of removing “outright lies,” it censor tweets with labels that “more convincingly” dispel myths.
“Twitter has lagged behind its social media peers in recent years, failing to keep pace in new services, acquisitions, user growth and stock price. Consider that its most memorable innovation was doubling the tweet character limit to 280, and that was more than four years ago,” Bensinger wrote.
FILE PHOTO: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on Twitter’s algorithms and content monitoring on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 5, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie/File Photo
“The site has just plodded along, content to be a plaything for corporate public relations, journalists and politicians. It’s not all that popular with regular folks, who instead turn to Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. And for many years that afforded Twitter less scrutiny, until Donald Trump became a Twitter power user,” he added.
Bensinger claimed that with Dorsey’s departure, the company had the opportunity to “inject some life into what has become a stagnant … service.” He argued that with Agrawal as CEO, changes needed to be made to “clean up the service.”
“First, Mr. Agrawal must restore trust in the site by better policing misinformation spread by politicians and celebrities,” Bensinger wrote. “Like Facebook, Twitter has sparingly enforced community standards against its best-known users, despite strong evidence that politicians are more likely to be believed than regular folks — even, or perhaps especially, when they are spouting falsehoods.”
Parag Agrawal, CEO of Twitter ( Twitter | Istock)
He cited instances of tweets from singer Nicki Minaj and former President Trump, who was suspended from Twitter earlier this year, as examples of those spreading “falsehoods,” before also calling on the company to crackdown on bots.
The New York Times opinion page has its own censorship history. The left-leaning paper caused a volcanic eruption within its ranks last year when it printed Sen. Tom Cotton’s, R-Ark., call for troops to be called in to quell violent unrest in the nation’s cities. The paper folded to pressure from liberal staffers and printed heavy corrections to the piece, leading Cotton to deride it for cowtowing to the “woke mob.”
Bensinger criticized Twitter’s current use of labels to identify posts containing misinformation, claiming “mealy-mouthed language” within the label didn’t contain enough definitive information. He did, however, praise the company’s recent announcement that it was launching a system to make labels more effective.
“If Twitter won’t remove outright lies about democracy, climate change or the pandemic, Mr. Agrawal can see to it that Twitter’s labels more convincingly dispel those myths,” he wrote.
This Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016, photo shows a Twitter sign outside of the company’s headquarters in San Francisco. Twitter will be enforcing stricter policies on violent and abusive content such as hateful images or symbols, including those attached to user profiles, the company announced Monday, Dec. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) (Reuters)
Bensinger also called on more human input when it came to monitoring highly followed accounts, claiming automated systems to detect violations were “garbage.”
He argued it was also worth considering a suggestion to require politicians’ accounts to have identifiers and more restrictions on who they can block, as well as what content they can moderate.
“Twitter can be fun, surprising, funny, irreverent and germane. There is simply no better place to rapidly find the day’s news and to fire off ephemeral comments on global events. Here’s hoping the new chief can make it a far less toxic place, too,” Bensinger wrote.