Businesswoman and expert public policy advocate, Renée DiResta, continues her aggressive campaign against Twitter’s tolerance of free speech, cloaking her crusade in a Trojan Horse called victimization. New interviews by Bloomberg TV and Washington Post have her repeating allegations that Twitter continues to sit idly by while she is stalked online. Each time a news outlet cranks out another assembly lined, one-sided hit piece, vulnerable free speech is obfuscated by the allure of a “damsel in distress.” Cunningly designed to pull heartstrings and take advantage of people’s natural protective instincts, DiResta’s fictitious narrative goes unquestioned. Put your pitchforks down people, there is more to this story.
DiResta’s targeting Twitter and her alignment with those suppressing alternate opinions are nothing new. In April of 2015, long before the Facebook censorship story broke, DiResta boasted to an opponent from her notorious @VaxFactcheck account, that “…fortunately Google and FB are stepping in to shut down the fonts of bullsh*t…”
Twitter, however, unlike Google and Facebook, has not been quick to comply with DiResta’s vision of information control in social media. So the day before a significant hearing at the California State Capitol in June of 2015, she took aim in an article published on Wired.com, “Anti-Vaxxers are Using Twitter to Manipulate a Vaccine Bill“.
She complains that, “One small, vocal group can have a disproportionate impact on public sentiment and legislation.” By this ridiculous standard, anyone attempting to move the cultural dial on the status quo is treated as a “problem.” DiResta further approvingly quotes Gary Finnegan, editor of Vaccines Today, “… it is essential that when people go online for information they are left with the clear impression that vaccines are safe and effective.”
How else would this clear impression be accomplished except through censorship?
More recently, she has written an article titled “Social Network Algorithms Are Distorting Reality By Boosting Conspiracy Theories”.
In it, she claims that “Algorithms, network effects, and zero-cost publishing are enabling crackpot theories to go viral.” Her conclusion alarmingly demands social media platforms do even more to tilt ranking algorithims towards preferences that are socially acceptable to the “mainstream.”
This kind of thinking stands in direct opposition to Ben Franklin, founding father and staunch defender of a free press. PBS.org quotes journalist Walter Isaacson on the subject, saying, “Franklin is one of the first American publishers to understand that freedom of the press and tolerance are part of what it is to be a newspaper editor, and what it is to be a printer. And part of the genius of America is that we’re open in our discourse.”* In today’s society, that open discourse extends to social media. Controlling information is an audacious and menacing deprivation of the foundation and life blood of American freedom.
So is DiResta’s recent hubbub against Twitter really about an innocent woman being harassed? Or is it a carefully planned and timely executed issue campaign using an unfair ploy to promote a false impression of the “danger” of alternate ideas and the ensuing need to censor? Whatever her motivation, the method and the goal are uncalled for. Many accused people’s reputations are at stake. Let’s hear their side before they are marched to the stocks. Why have news outlets not responded to requests to be interviewed to clear their names? Why does there seem to be a coordinated effort by the mainstream media against Twitter over this? Clearly, the real victim under attack is the free flow of non-conforming ideas and information.