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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

If Twitter Is A ‘Human Right,’ Why Does It Censor?

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How can a company consider its product to be a human right if it then goes ahead and denies its access to others? This question would presently be plaguing Twitter if the Big Tech giant had even a modicum of self-awareness.

Twitter was recently banned in Nigeria after the site deleted a tweet from the country’s former dictator-turned-President Muhammadu Buhari and temporarily suspended his account. The offending tweet reportedly read, “Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.” Twitter claimed the message was “was in violation of the Twitter Rules,” and deleted the tweet while putting Buhari on 12-hour read-only mode.

In anger at the censorship, Buhari decided to ban the platform from his entire country, blocking access on the network and threatening to prosecute anyone who does not comply. He said the move is not merely a reaction to his brief Twitter suspension, but rather a broader push to fight disinformation from the platform. This decision, however, is a clear push against free speech from the Nigerian government.

Twitter sprung into action, tweeting about the importance of a “free and open internet” as “an essential human right,” with the message being that inability to access Twitter violated said right.

We are deeply concerned by the blocking of Twitter in Nigeria. Access to the free and #OpenInternet is an essential human right in modern society.

We will work to restore access for all those in Nigeria who rely on Twitter to communicate and connect with the world. #KeepitOn

— Twitter Public Policy (@Policy) June 5, 2021

This is a really interesting position from a company that has very publicly been censoring its users’ content, including deleting tens of thousands of users along with then-President Donald Trump in January.

For what Twitter calls a human right, the tech giant sure is selective on who it allows to use its platform

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