[COMMENTARY] Why is Twitter Censoring Certain Videos?
On Tuesday afternoon, The Democratic Coalition teased the launch of their newest video, “Trump Cancels Football” by asking their followers to get #TrumpCancelsFootball to trend ahead of the release. As users began to pick up on it, members of the Democratic Coalition each tweeted about the video separately.
We will release our new ad when this gets 1,000 replies to this tweet with the hashtag: #TrumpCancelsFootball
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) September 1, 2020
I can't wait to get my football back! #TrumpCancelsFootball
— Grant Stern (@grantstern) September 1, 2020
Moments later, the tweet with the video was released.
— Democratic Coalition (@TheDemCoalition) September 1, 2020
But then a strange thing happened, and in less than an hour: Twitter users began noticing a disclaimer on the tweets they shared with the video and the #TrumpsCancelsFootball hashtag, saying the content may be “sensitive”.
Watch the video below, the very same that everyone is sharing on Twitter with no changes to it:
It’s inexplicable that Twitter could censor a typical political video so quickly, which means it had to have been mass reported by bots. Ironically, this happened on the same day Twitter Safety bragged about suspending five accounts for “platform manipulation”.
We suspended five Twitter accounts for platform manipulation that we can reliably attribute to Russian state actors. As standard, they will be included in updates to our database of information operations in the coming weeks to empower academic research. https://t.co/9RqOiDNB7d
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) September 1, 2020
As soon as users began noticing the disclaimer on their tweets, they began hitting Twitter with complaints, including yours truly.
Hey @TwitterSupport why is the new video from @TheDemCoalition marked as “sensitive” when it’s literally just about how Trump ruined football? There’s nothing “sensitive” in it unless you are a triggered MAGA snowflake. Cmon @jack, fix this 🤨#TrumpCancelsFootball pic.twitter.com/tqBsujiHcx
— Tara Dublin Is Anti-Fascism #BidenHarris2020 (@taradublinrocks) September 2, 2020
This video by @TheDemCoalition was just marked as sensitive content. This is clear cut. It’s about football. No conceivable reason. Right wing bots are causing filmmakers to be censored. It’s also happened to @MeidasTouch @donwinslow @Eleven_Films & @ReallyAmerican1. Must end. https://t.co/VIxwV6VPq9
— Really American 🇺🇸 (@ReallyAmerican1) September 2, 2020
Bots are controlling what media Americans can see.
Why are you letting this happen @TwitterSupport?
— Eleven Films (@Eleven_Films) September 2, 2020
Meanwhile, some high profile MAGA accounts have been tweeting videos of their own, but theirs actually deserve those disclaimers, because those videos truly are manipulated media. The mass reporting from the right is a retaliation: if you report us, we’ll report you right back. The difference is that when we report MAGA accounts, we do it rightly, because Harry Belafonte falling asleep is not Joe Biden, and Ady Barkan’s voice should never be manipulated). And those videos were still up as of this writing, too.
As we get closer to Election Day and Trump continues to provide footage for the creative filmmakers who work tirelessly to literally show people why they need to vote for Joe Biden (truly, using Trump’s own words against him will always be the best possible campaign strategy), the other side will also keep making videos of their own. The difference is, they have to manipulate their videos to make everyone seem worse than they actually are. We just have to let Trump keep speaking for himself and share that truth.
You know, if Twitter will still let us.
[UPDATE: Soon after this story was originally filed, Twitter removed the disclaimer on the video, but not before screencaps were made. We anticipate this won’t be the last time a video has this issue on Twitter. As this is a developing story, please check back for further updates]