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An Open Letter to Ella Irwin, Head of Twitter Trust and Safety (and Censorship)
The following is an open letter to Ella G. Irwin, Head of Twitter Trust and Safety, and Elon Musk, CEO of Twitter, and anyone else at Twitter, Inc. who is responsible for censoring political speech and defaming people with fake “advisory” labels, among other such “visibility-filtering” tactics.
I am publishing it as an open letter, not to bore everyone to death with my personal problems, but because the censorship and defamation I have suffered at the hands of Twitter for at least two years is an example of how the decentralized network of global corporations, Intelligence agencies, governments, non-governmental governing entities, “anti-disinformation” outfits, and other parties that together comprise what Michael Shellenberger and Matt Taibbi have dubbed the “Censorship Industrial Complex” are evolving into an Orwellian Ministry-of-Truth-type apparatus “with the power to control the information environment in ways that determine what people believe to be true and what is false.”
Twitter, Inc. has been censoring my political commentary and maliciously defaming me (i.e., damaging my reputation and income as an author) for approximately two years. Twitter has been doing this by concealing the Tweets of my “Consent Factory” account with fake “age-restricted adult content” labels, deceiving Twitter users into believing I have been tweeting content depicting “adult nudity and sexual behavior,” or “excessively gory content, sexual violence and/or assault, bestiality or necrophilia.” Twitter’s actions have damaged both my book sales and my reputation, globally. Defamation is a tort. I could sue the corporation for damages in several jurisdictions.
I have no interest in doing that, currently. What I do want, however, is a real explanation of why and exactly how Twitter, Inc. censored and defamed me for approximately two years. I want this explanation — a real explanation with documentation, not self-serving corporate-speak — not for personal reasons, primarily, but because I believe people need to be able to understand how powerful corporations like Twitter (and Facebook, and Google, and all the other entities and parties I mentioned above) are “visibility filtering” our collective reality.
The fact that these powerful corporations (and other entities) are doing this, not just on the macro level, but also on the micro level, to writers like me, who, let’s face it, are not exactly world-famous “influencers,” and to “non-public persons” who are basically just using social media to talk to their friends, does not bode well for the future of our societies. This kind of micro-perception-manipulation, this “visibility filtering” of our collective reality, goes way beyond traditional censorship. It is a hallmark of all totalitarian systems, which attempt to control, not only what people say, but what they think, how they think, how they perceive events, and facts, and each other.
Totalitarian systems do not spring into being fully formed. They develop slowly, gradually, unrecognized at first, and then ignored, usually until it is too late. We do not recognize the formation of new totalitarian systems because we are forever looking backwards instead of forwards, preparing for the storm that has passed, expecting history to repeat, rather than rhyme. Blinded by hindsight, we do not recognize the monster that is taking shape right in front of us. We glimpse a claw here, a tooth there, the flash of a pitiless blue eye, but fail to assemble the bits into an image of the beast entire, until it is inexorably upon us.
Anyway, here’s my open letter … one more bit, for the record.
To: Ella G. Irwin, Head of Trust and Safety, Twitter, Inc.
cc: Elon Musk
Dear Ms. Irwin,
This open letter is further to our brief correspondence on May 3, 2023 (on Twitter) regarding Twitter’s censorship and defamation of my @consent_factory Twitter account with fake “age-restricted adult content” labels for approximately two years.
First, thank you for taking action to cease and desist from further censorship and defamation. From what I can tell, it appears that Twitter is removing or has removed the fake, defamatory “adult content” labels from the @consent_factory Twitter account’s Tweets (or at least going back to late 2021). I trust that these fake “age-restricted adult content” labels will be removed from all of the account’s Tweets in due course, and I appreciate your prompt attention to this matter. Please accept my apology for claiming that you had lied about taking action on this. I admit, after two years of being censored and defamed, and having my complaints ignored by Twitter, I have become rather skeptical regarding your company’s behavior and statements. That said, it is clear now that you were not lying, and that you have taken action to have the fake, defamatory labels in question removed, and I apologize for publicly claiming otherwise.
Assuming the process is eventually completed and all of the fake, defamatory “adult content” labels that Twitter has been censoring the @consent_factory Twitter account with are in fact removed, I would appreciate substantive answers to the following questions:
(1) Why and exactly how did Twitter start censoring and defaming my Consent Factory account with these fake, defamatory “adult content” labels? When I asked you to explain that in our correspondence, you replied:
Clearly, the account did not “post multiple tweets containing sensitive content (nazi imagery) that resulted in the sensitive content label being applied,” because Twitter has now removed the fake, defamatory “adult content” labels from those Tweets, which contain the same “Nazi imagery” they originally contained. As I am sure you have noted, the so-called “Nazi imagery” contained in those Tweets was simply historical photos of the Nazi Germany era, which were used to illustrate critical points I was making in opposition to totalitarianism, and not at all any type of celebration or approval of totalitarianism or fascism. Any rational adult, seeing those Tweets, could not possibly mistake the anti-fascist/totalitarian intent behind them. Also, the fact that the fake, defamatory “adult content” labels are being removed gradually, in stages, rather than all at once, suggests that the application of the fake labels (or “interstitials”) in question was not the result of a blanket algorithm applied to the account. Additionally, not every Tweet (or every Tweet containing an image) by this account was censored with a fake "interstitial," which suggests that something other than a blanket algorithm was at work.
In any event, having been censored and defamed for two years by Twitter, Inc., I think I am entitled to an actual explanation of how this started, including documentation of any intra-company discussions or “log” notes in connection with the decision to begin censoring and defaming the account. Your substantive response to this request will demonstrate that the “new” Twitter is, in fact, committed to transparency, and free speech, and not just another element of the “Censorship Industrial Complex,” as Michael Shellenberger and Matt Taibbi dubbed it, before Mr. Musk cut off access to the “Twitter Files.”
(2) What, if any, other restrictions/visibility filtering tactics have been applied to my @consent_factory Twitter account from 2020 to the present? Again, I would appreciate documentation of any such "visibility filtering" or other "restrictions" and/or the removal thereof. Having been censored and maliciously defamed by Twitter for years, I believe I am entitled to know how my "visibility" is being and/or has been "filtered."
(3) What steps is Twitter, Inc. now taking to cease and desist from the type of malicious defamation the company has been engaging in to suppress political speech and damage the reputation and income of writers, like me, and independent media outlets, like, for example, OffGuardian? Twitter blocks links to all OffGuardian articles with a different fake, defamatory “interstitial” warning.
There is nothing “unsafe” about OffGuardian, or any content published on the website that could possibly “lead to real-world harm.” It is a small, independent news and commentary outlet. Twitter, Inc. is using the fake “interstitial” warning above to discourage users from visiting the site, and thus damaging OffGuardian’s reputation and income. This is just one further example (i.e., in addition to my case). Twitter’s continued use of fake, defamatory, “interstitial” labels to suppress political views is relatively widespread, as far as I can tell. Moreover, recent updates to Twitter’s Platform Use Guidelines make it clear that Twitter intends to continue using these “interstitials,” which is worrying, given the fact that the company has been using them to deceive people, and to suppress political speech, and to damage the reputations and incomes of small businesses and sole proprietors.
That’s it for my questions, for now.
Again, thank you for finally putting an end to the defamation that Twitter, Inc. has been subjecting me to, for the last two years. I must say, it is a bit disappointing that it took a happenstance encounter on Twitter to connect with someone with the power to do that. Frankly, given Mr. Musk’s initial and ongoing publicity campaign to portray himself as a champion of free speech, and a stalwart opponent of censorship, and Twitter under his leadership as the antipode of “old, bad, censorship-happy Twitter,” I had expected that immediate steps would be taken to … you know, stop deceiving people, and maliciously defaming people, and manipulating the “visibility” of political views according to some unarticulated ideological schema, but I guess these things take time.
I look forward to your substantive response to the above questions.
Very truly yours,
C. J. Hopkins
P.S. Should you happen to run into Mr. Musk there at Twitter HQ, you might also want to suggest that he resume providing access to the "Twitter Files" to reporters like Matt and Michael Shellenberger, and Alex Gutentag (if I can put a word in for her). Doing so would demonstrate that the "Twitter Files" thing was not just a limited hangout, and a PR stunt designed to whitewash the company and kill public interest in the nefarious activities of Twitter, Inc., and other powerful global corporations, and their partners at the FBI, DHS, whatever that CIS or CISA acronym stands for, and ... well, you know, "other agencies."
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