19 Comments

Guess leftwingers should've listened to Glenn Greenwald when he told you many times and in no uncertain terms that censorship by the Big Tech won't stop with the so-called "nazis", guess it's time for you to open a Gab account

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Delete the tweet and move on. You won’t win the appeal and Twitter will keep you locked out.

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Hi Asa, this is Q. Anthony Omene. I was hoping to get in contact with you to talk about this, please hit me up via e-mail when you get a moment. qaomene at rznwa dot com

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Mar 12, 2022·edited Mar 12, 2022Author

Done!

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Now they are behaving and actually doing what they said Nazis did.

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Mar 12, 2022·edited Mar 12, 2022

Rather than 'censorship' as such, this is much more likely to be a result of keyword weighting applied to that tweet, and more generally to your overall feed.

Every time someone tweets about 'sensitive' topics (mainly anything that would flag as not advertiser friendly, but I'd bet you a coke there's some 'problematic' watch-words in there too), it's weighted against various models.

The broader meaning of the tweet is irrelevant, as suggested by the instant flag, and the chance of a human ever having input on this one case, is virtually zero. The algorithm probably shouldn't work like this, but it does, like it or not.

Please don't look for conspiracy when incompetence would suffice, all you end up doing is triggering/reinforcing the false beliefs of everyone else who already believes in nonsense.

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It’s irrelevant whether this was a decision made by the algorithms alone, by human decision or by a combination of both (which is what I suspect, given the decision to reject my appeal a day later) it still amounts to censorship.

Algorithms are not some holy text or independent, dispassionate process. They are created by powerful corporations to maximise profit — often in close coordination with or influenced by the US government and its intelligence agencies. It’s nothing to do with incompetence, these are deeply political decisions. Silicon Valley has far too much power. The long censorious trajectory of Twitter is one of the main reasons I started this Substack a year ago.

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Mar 12, 2022·edited Mar 12, 2022

I spent 8 years of my software engineering career building and testing exactly these kinds of algorithms, and I can assure you first hand, very few of the systems involved are anywhere near competently built enough, or competently managed for that matter, to give the kind of results you propose.

Surveillance is a relatively easy problem to solve from an engineering perspective, but converting that into actionable intel, and using it to cansor you is a much more difficult problem. I don't doubt that some organisations are _trying_ to do so, but from a technical perspective, it's just not as easy as you seem to believe. There are no secret tentacles conspiring against you, what there are is a load of engineers trying to solve complicated problems, often under shitty management, where everyone has awful incentives and not enough time (or inclination) to investigate the ethical consequences. Sometimes they fail, less often they succeed, but virtually nobody is actually trying to silence your lukewarm observations that there are nazis in the military. There are nazis in every military, and it's always a problem. Try not to get your nickers in a twist, conspiracy is almost never the answer.

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Now you're just gaslighting. Who apart from you has mentioned a "conspiracy," "secret tentacles" or "intel"? Grow up.

In Ukraine, it's not a matter of there just being a few Nazis infiltrating the military.

An actual Nazi group, the Azov Battalion, was in 2014 wholly integrated into the Ukrainian military. A few months ago, former Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh was appointed as a key adviser to the Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian armed forces. Azov's National Corps street militia/political party has been deployed in coordination with the Ukrainian police in the past. Zelensky himself has spoken warmly of Nazi collaborator and Holocaust perpetrator Stepan Bandera. In December 2021 he handed over a “Hero of Ukraine” award to a Right Sector leader in a ceremony in Ukraine’s parliament.

This is serious stuff. Why are you trying to play that threat down?

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Mar 14, 2022Liked by Asa Winstanley

This is a really common response I see when people criticize big tech censorship - "there's no conspiracy, your tin foil hat is on too tight". The social mechanism is beside the point! The point is that conspiracy or no, it needs to stop.

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Quite typical to see people working in big tech assume that since it's all algorithm based, it's somehow less of a "censorship" and more of a software flaw or a bug (that can be gamed and alleviated - hence gaslighting and accusing of incompetence).

Reality check, Azov Battalion is no software bug.

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Mar 14, 2022Liked by Asa Winstanley

I work in tech myself and the prospect of Big Brother as an unending sequence of "mere bugs" is no less terrifying to me than Big Brother as an organized cabal. That goes for any misuse of machine learning. For instance, to the people who were wrongfully identified by facial recognition software because they were in a minority which was sparsely represented in the training data, it likely matters little whether the training data was biased as a result of malice or incompetence.

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I'm not trying to play down the threat... I'm saying you're focusing on the wrong thing.

You were not personally targeted for censorship because of your tweet, you can't solve that problem because it (almost) doesn't exist.

Your tweet was blocked because coverage and analysis of complicated or moral topics, especially ones about ethnic violence are not advertiser friendly, and they have no incentives to carry that content. Twitter is not a journalistic platform, and they have no incentives to only carry the truth.

Any tech company faced with the accusation that they censored you personally is of course going to have an easy time denying it, because they didn't.

You need to face them down with what they ARE doing, and force them to address that larger, much more complicated problem. You looking like "you are wearing your tinfoil hat too tightly" is a very easy defense when you open your objections to their actions with tinfoil hat positions.

There are people in all these tech companies trying to make these cases and push for change, but especially since 2014 when conservative and 'libertarian' (cough) investors started buying up control of their boards, the 'good people' on staff are facing more of an uphill battle as the boards see profits in working on building the surveillance state.

Focus on the real causes, not the easy ones.

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Mar 16, 2022Liked by Asa Winstanley

Do you think that Facebook just explicitly OK'ed cheering on a Nazi militia merely because it's good for advertising then? Sounds like a "complicated moral topic involving ethnic violence" to me. But they're saying, go for it, talk about it, as long as you're cheering. That doesn't seem to fit your hypothesis. If it was all about ad revenue wouldn't they just filter all the icky stuff just the same as the post that started this discussion?

https://theintercept.com/2022/02/24/ukraine-facebook-azov-battalion-russia/

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You're gaslighting. We can all see that

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The astute reader may recall Youtube's incidental purge of a great deal of history content when they enabled an algorithm targeting footage from WWII, apparently in an attempt to target "Nazis".

These are the bitter fruits of sweeping censorship implemented by imbeciles. I would not be surprised to learn that Twitter has implemented a blanket ban on that manifesto image.

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image top right reminds me of the writing on the Christchurch weapons --thats another rabbit hole

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Yes you’re exactly right: it’s a photo of Brenton Tarrant’s body armour, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. Image top left is a still from his racist manifesto.

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I'm not on Twitter but empathise. My most read post, 'Who Controls South Africa?', isn't indexed by Google. It was brought to my attention by a techie smarter than me that Gemini, it's A.I. program, won't analyse the post either. My article is well researched with many supporting links. I guess my crime is mentioning the role the Open Society Foundation and the Oppenheimers are influencing our coming, important and dangerous, elections.

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