Twitter has long been a hub of public shaming, where old tweets are dug up — often by journalists— to shame and embarrass users, or destroy their reputations and careers. Some media outlets, like now-defunct Gawker, specialized in it.
Having ignored the problem for years, Twitter is now scrambling to find a solution. Why?
Following a number of scandals, some of which were exclusively reported by Breitbart News, including anti-semitic tweets from a New York Times editor and racist, anti-semitic tweets from… another New York Times editor!
Cancel culture — long a weapon of left-wing and mainstream journalists — is now affecting journalists themselves. So cancel culture must end, obviously!
According to Twitter product lead Kayvon Beykpour, the platform is exploring ways to make it harder to dig up old tweets.
From a recent interview with Beykpour by the Vergecast:
Fear of speaking in public and fear of retaliation or fear of being harassed and harassment means many different things to many people. Or fear of being held accountable for something that is not what you meant. These are some of the biggest reasons why people don’t tweet. Which is why we actually take this very seriously.
Beykpour also discussed some of the solutions Twitter was exploring to solve the problem, including potentially making tweets more ephemeral.
I’m very interested in exploring how we might give customers more control. Where ephemerality is just one of those dimensions, I think there are other dimensions that, while we can get excited and talk about ephemerality because there’s lots of other standards of how other apps do this, I think other dimensions, like control around who can see or control around who can participate, is really critical.
Many people would feel much more secure if “cancel culture” came to an end, or at least became more difficult. But it’s interesting that journalists had to feel the fear they instilled in others for so long before Silicon Valley took any action.
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.