A report unveils that, in the year 2015, Twitter's CEO asked its media team to censor abusive tweets directed towards President Barack Obama.
According to a report from BuzzFeed News, the abusive and hateful tweets were part of replies to President Obama during a question-and-answer session. Costelo ordered employees to deploy an in-house built algorithm able to filter out abusive language, according to a former senior Twitter employee.
Another source said that Twitter's public quality-filtering algorithms were inconsistent and therefore the media partnerships team also manually censored tweets. Two different sources told BuzzFeed News that from fear that senior company employees would object, the censorship decision was kept secret.
According to sources, there were some senior employees inside Twitter who strictly supported the company's long-standing commitment to free speech and they were upset by the decision to censor the tweets.
According to The Hill, this revelation came as part of a larger investigation into Twitter's controversial history with handling abuse. The former Twitter CEO, Costolo, denied the report Thursday, August 11, calling it "sensationalist nonsense."
On his Twitter account, he added that the report about Twitter censorship is "total nonsense" and false. The social media network, Twitter, also issued a statement on Thursday, August 11, declaring that this story has "inaccuracies."
It is known that Twitter took numerous public stands against censorship in its early years. Twitter senior executives published in 2011 a blog post titled "The Tweets Must Flow." According to Fast Company, Twitter was even fighting a secret government order asking to provide "WikiLeaks" account information.
While it is understandable that Twitter removes illegal tweets and spam, users are expecting that the social media network is committed to making efforts to keep these exceptions narrow. Removing tweets on the basis of their content is pure censorship and it is against the image of Twitter as a supporter of free speech.