The squealing commentariat are overlooking important details about the suspension of Independent journalist Guy Adams’s Twitter account, writes Milo Yiannopoulos.
Hang on just a second. In all the hullaballoo about Twitter’s supposedly outrageous betrayal of free speech in proactively muzzling Independent journalist Guy Adams, aren’t we forgetting a few things?
Chiefly, aren’t we overlooking how irresponsible it is for a professional reporter to tweet the private email addresses of an executive, however peeved said journalist might be at the actions of that executive’s company?
Because that’s not what reporters are here to do. Crossing the line from reporter to activist comes with consequences: namely, you relinquish your right to be treated as an impartial transcriber of fact. That’s why the level of manufactured outrage and feigned surprise is getting on my goat. I mean, this is hardly the first time Twitter has sucked up to someone rich and sinister.
This is what happens when start-ups become successful: they become corporations. Twitter is a corporation just like any other. And when you start throwing around strong opinions, giving up any pretence to impartiality, corporations protect themselves, their friends and their commercial partners.
Public discourse must always be moderated, to protect against hate speech and persecution, but, in any case, this isn’t a question of free speech. Did we fight wars to secure the right of journalists at Left-wing newspapers to incite harassment at any senior figure they’re ticked off with today?
That might sound like a rather strong accusation, but what’s the motivation to a journalist of publicising an executive’s private email address to their large and trusting follower base, if not to encourage puerile mischief?
We can argue over the definition of private, but what’s not in dispute is that it was a personal address, which, until journalists like Adams and Marketplace’s Heidi N Moore started disseminating it, was not remotely so visible. (It was accessible via Google but only appeared on one or two web pages.)
As a result of publishing Gary Zenkel’s email address, Adams violated Twitter’s Terms of Service. It’s true that Twitter seems to apply those terms somewhat capriciously – Justin Bieber was never suspended for once tweeting personal information – but, frankly, they’re at liberty to apply their own rules as they please.
Journalists are understandably upset that their favourite toy has turned out to belong to one of the bigger kids in the playground. But did they ever really believe otherwise? If you want to get angry with anyone, perhaps it should be bloggers and the media for mis-selling another cookie-cutter American technology company as the key to freedom and democracy.
After all, it’s not Twitter’s fault that the press, whose job it is to be sceptical, has bought so entirely and so embarrassingly into the company’s cynical marketing spiel about openness and free speech. All this bluster seems so hopelessly, even wilfully, naïve.
So I don’t think Twitter should have apologised as the company did, wheeling out its in-house counsel to apologise in a nuanced way for what happened. (That was another bad move: it made the company look guilty.) But perhaps Guy Adams should re-examine his behaviour over the past few days.
Because it seems to me that this unedifying little episode has only hastened the moment when Twitter is no longer seen as a trustworthy medium for the media to communicate with. And when that day comes, we will all be the losers.