Short Take: Did You Hear About Twitter?

Short Take: Did You Hear About Twitter?

It’s not the Onion. It’s not even surprising. It is, however, nuts.

To what does the absurd delusion relate? Twitter. Or to be more precise, Twitter’s decision to eliminate all mention of the New York Post’s story about Hunter Biden’s laptop. Matt Taibbi tells the story in a twitstream of how internal Twitter emails show that it was a deliberate, unprincipled, choice by Twitter to eradicate this story from its site. This might have been at the behest of the Biden campaign, but the choice belonged entirely to Twitter. And Twitter had the right to do so.

This was no mystery, even at the time it happened. The Post, a conservative tabloid that tended to go off the edge of reason and reality on occasion, was nonetheless a longstanding newspaper and wrote about something it deemed newsworthy. That the story couldn’t be posted on Twitter did not somehow magically escape notice. Everybody knew about it at the time. While we’re not learning a bit more about the why, so what? Twitter favored the Dems? And the New York Post didn’t. Is anyone surprised about this?

Taibbi raises very real and serious questions about how social media functions, given how many people believe that it is the new public square or a trusted source of news. It mostly is. It isn’t always. The usual suspects were outraged at Taibbi for being Elon Musk’s “shill.”

Would NBC’s senior reporter Ben Collins not have reported the internal Twitter emails? Probably not, but it wouldn’t have much to do with PR work for Musk, but the depth of his personal bias and “moral clarity.”

But what is buried below the pissing match of “journalists” for whom politics transcends fact, wherever they’re sourced, is the power of the Twitters. The story of Hunter Biden’s laptop wasn’t concealed from view, but prominent at the New York Post. It was there to be read. It was there. No one prevented any other newspaper from running with the story other than their own decision not to do so, Why wasn’t it on the front page of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal?

Granted, Trump’s absurd shriek that this “big tech” decision to deep six a story that might have helped him was so monumentally important that the entirety of the election was now undermined by fraud, reflects his laughable grasping at the thinnest of straws to salvage what ego remains following his humiliating defeat. But that the rest of us should be aware that Twitter can, and did, play such games with the news matters.

What Taibbi’s written neither proves that government coerced Twitter to censor the Post nor taints Joe Biden. That it shows bias by Twitter seems quite clear, but so what? Twitter is under no duty to be fair or promote any political view or politician it chooses not to. And while there may be internal debates over whether it comports with policy or has any credible or principled basis, that doesn’t change its right to do it because Jack says so.

What can be taken away is the recognition that social media such as Twitter isn’t our public square, our free and fair news source. And despite Musk’s protestations, it likely won’t be any more trustworthy under him than under Jack Dorsey. No matter how badly you believe it should be subject to constraints based on your personal flavor or fairness, you’re legally and constitutionally wrong, and don’t get to dictate its internal choices unless you’ve got more than $44 billion to burn.

One other takeaway is how many place the blame on Matt Taibbi for telling this story about what Twitter did internally because it hurts their tribe. Humiliating shit, indeed.

And the final takeaway is that Trump’s downward spiral is continuing apace. But you already knew that, didn’t you?