Twitter claims to be interested in promoting healthy conversations and stopping "hate speech" on its platform, and has hired liberal academics to assist in its efforts. Not only does this project pose a threat against free speech, but Trump supporters in particular would be the likely targets of the initiative, as the team hired by Twitter leans left and opposes President Trump.
Dr. Rebekah Tromble, an assistant professor of political science at Lelden University, will be helping Twitter develop algorithms aimed at differentiating between "intolerance" and basic "disagreement or incivility."
Tromble's statement reads, “In the context of growing political polarization, the spread of misinformation, and increases in incivility and intolerance, it is clear that if we are going to effectively evaluate and address some of the most difficult challenges arising on social media, academic researchers and tech companies will need to work together much more closely. This initiative presents an important and promising opportunity for Twitter and our team of researchers to share expertise and work on solutions together.”
Tromble's own Twitter page reveals her biases, however, as she has been publicly critical of the Trump administration, Fox News observed. In August 2017, for example, she tweeted that President Trump "quintupled down on his commitment to white nationalists."
"They're just about all he's got left," she added.
She also tweeted her support of the Women's March just before Trump's inauguration: "We march for solidarity — to let you know that you are not alone...And we march to remind the world that Trump is a #MinorityPresident."
Tromble has also taken aim at Trump supporters, claiming that they've dealt Hillary Clinton "a heavy dose of sexism" in a piece she wrote for the Washington Post in February 2016, InfoWars.com reports.
Tromble is not the only liberal academic selected by Twitter to execute its campaign. Dr. Patricia Rossini and Dr. Jennifer Stromer-Galley of Syracuse University and Dr. Nava Tintarev of Delft University of Technology are also involved in the project and have also displayed their own disdain for the president on their Twitter accounts.
On July 21, 2016, Rossini tweeted that 1/20/2017 will be "the day reasonable americans will flea [sic] to nearly any country that will take them if trump wins."
Just last month, Stromer-Galley took aim at Trump's immigration policies and claimed that his executive order to stop separating families "is not a solution."
Most telling, however, is Stromer-Galley's criticism of Trump supporters. On November 8, 2016, she tweeted, "Science says: Low informed voters go for Trump."
Dr. Nava Tintarev of Delft University of Technology in Holland also joins the team of academics. And unsurprisingly, Tintarev has been vocal in her opposition to the president.
Twitter has already faced criticism over what users perceive as a bias against conservative media accounts and those held by Republican politicians and their aides. Last week, the media platform found itself in hot water for "shadow banning" prominent Republicans: restricting their visibility in search results.
"The Republican Party’s chair Ronna McDaniel, several conservative Republican Congressmen, and Donald Trump Jr.’s spokesman no longer appear in the auto-populated drop-down search box on Twitter," VICE News reported last week. "It’s a shift that diminishes their reach on the platform — and the same one being deployed against prominent racists to limit their visibility."
The Twitter accounts of a number of conservatives belonging to right-wing groups had also been shadow-banned, the Daily Wire reports, including Act for America's Founder Brigitte Gabriel, Alana Mastrangelo of TurningPoint USA, the Daily Wire's Ryan Saavedra, Chuck Ross of The Daily Caller, and Jordan Schachtel of Conservative Review and CRTV, to name a few.
Twitter's CEO Jack Dorsey does not attempt to hide his opposition to the Trump administration, and in fact, shared an article from his Twitter account in April that called for sweeping victories by Democrats in America's new "civil war."
Hiring a team of anti-Trump liberals to make determinations about "hate speech" will only stoke the flames of that criticism.
"Many of Twitter's actions continue to be concerning for conservatives," Republican Party chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said regarding Twitter's bias against conservatives. "If Twitter wants to restore healthy conversations, they should start by talking with Americans outside of their bubble."
As for the potential for free speech violations, a Twitter spokesman told Fox News via e-mail that the academics will be "evaluating communication on the service," but it's unclear at the moment what exactly they will be looking for and what will constitute "hate speech."