‘Twitter talking down to people, as if they are not intelligent enough’
The social-media giant announced that it was preparing a tool to warn users if they were communicating with so-called “Russian trolls” during US election campaign in 2016. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube testified before the Senate on Wednesday about alleged Russian interference in the campaign.
RT: How reliable are Twitter's tools for bot and troll identification?
Adam Garrie: Based on the evidence that the Project Veritas has unearthed, I would say, not very reliable at all. They should be very careful before they accuse people of something in a malicious way, because there is such a thing as a liable lawyer, and many people ought to have them on speed dial if necessary. The whole thing though does boil down to the contempt for the average public that’s clearly expressed by these senators at the hearing and by those in charge of Twitter. A person engages with content online if they find it interesting, amusing, educational, or some various combinations of the three. Whether one is engaging with someone they know personally, a stranger, an organization, a pseudonym, or some algorithmic robot machine - the quality of the opinion and its ability to educate, to entertain or to amuse is what the people are after.
How stupid do Twitter really think us, the members of the public are, that we need to be warned about this, as though it was something that actually matters – like credit card fraud, or allegations of trading up seeing images online? This is just an exchange of opinions. By barking up the tree of trying to expose the source – it is just trying to talk down to people, as if they are not intelligent enough to make informed decision based on a variety of opinions that they come across online from a number of different sources in every country on Earth just about.
RT: Isn’t there also a risk here that Twitter could end up discrediting genuine accounts by calling them out as bots?
AG: That is the very important legal question. It is of course an ethical and a moral question, but when it comes to fighting a megacorporation like Twitter, people need to be legally armed in the sense of having the knowledge, information and legal expertise at their fingertips to protect themselves from what amounts to corporate defamation of an individual. They are a big company, and if they try to defame small individuals, well, the words ‘class action lawsuit’ mean something in the US – where most of this is going on. So, this is something Twitter needs to be very careful about. Do they really expose themselves to these kinds of claims just to make their friends and Congress happy about an election that’s well over a year old? At this point it is ridiculous. If the lawsuit starts to come in, and if people’s pockets start to be crunched, then we’ll see possibly a slightly more rational reaction.
‘Twitter is doing this to keep US politicians happy’
Twitter by its actions is seeking to make headlines, and that makes American politicians happy, Paul Rosenberg of Cryptohippie online privacy firm told RT.
RT: In your opinion, how reliable are Twitter's tools of identifying bot and trolls?
Paul Rosenberg: I don’t think it is particularly reliable – they are looking for one particular group that they have somehow identified as Russian in origin. But the whole endeavor is theater – it doesn’t really matter. Twitter is doing this to keep politicians happy. They are probably just throwing an engineer or two on it to keep the politicians happy… It makes headlines and the politician is happy. That is really the way it works.
RT: Could Twitter end up discrediting genuine accounts as bots?
PR: Very, very easily. You have to remember that these companies don’t really have their users’ interest at heart. The users don’t pay them. The users use Twitter, Facebook or Google or whatever for free. So, you’re not the client, not the customer – you’re the product. And they are selling you and your personal information to whomever gives them money, or whatever in recompense for it. The real needs of the users are not primary to them; they are certainly not primary to their bottom line.
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