Discord and Twitter had a rough week with content moderation policies
posted Sunday Apr 23, 2023 by Scott Ertz
We've talked many times about the issues with social media sites and moderation. Some platforms moderate content fiercely. Some allow nearly anything to go. And some try to find a place in the middle, where they don't focus on it, but do it when needed. And two of those platforms found themselves in the spotlight this week: Discord and Twitter.
Discord's content woes
Generally, Discord leaves its users alone. When things get really problematic, the company will intervene, such as when users share content that is unsafe or illegal. So, it was no surprise when a recent leak of classified documents from an Air Force National Guardsman, who will not be named here because of corporate policies, came from a Discord server. Discord provided a way to potentially remain anonymous while still getting the documents into the wild, though the anonymity didn't quite work out.
This scenario created a situation for the communications platform. What should they do about the content that had already been shared, and should they prevent it from spreading through their platform? Despite the company's general behavior, they decided that this time they would need to intervene. And so, they decided to prevent further sharing through the platform.
This decision wasn't terribly surprising, as other platforms had already moved in that direction. Generally, social platforms prevent the sharing of leaked and stolen documents, dating back to the Edward Snowden and Julian Assange era, when Twitter and Facebook were instrumental in disseminating that information. Now, stolen data, particularly those that are sensitive or classified, have long been banned as the legal status puts the platforms in danger, as well as the posters.
Twitter's content woes
It wasn't just Discord having to carry out strong content moderation decisions this week. Twitter's community guidelines state that no user may share data stolen from someone or solicit stolen data from another user using the platform. However, that is exactly what Wired journalist Dell Cameron did.
The stolen data came from a potentially significant and severe hack of Daily Wire host and documentary filmmaker Matt Walsh. Walsh's phone was hacked, either through a SIM card duplication or an Apple ID clone, giving the hacker unfettered access to the personal and professional data of the controversial host. Among this data were over a decade worth of personal emails, full access to his Twitter account, and more.
Cameron obviously wanted to get more information about what happened. That is his job, after all. In this search, he got in contact with the hacker, who has gone by the online monicker Doomed, an apt name for someone who likely has a lengthy legal battle ahead. The hacker gave the reporter enough information in order to prove his legitimacy. This puts Cameron in possession of hacked and stolen material.
Posessing this information could potentially violate the company's policy. In addition, writing a story that references the stolen material could also be in violation of the overall policy. However, there is an exception for newsworthy content, so long as it does not directly publish said material, which the Wired article does not. However, because of Walsh's position in the community, he may or may not fall into the category of newsworthy.
The end result is that the Twitter account of Dell Cameron has been permanently suspended for violating policy. Wired has called on Twitter to reverse its decision, but it does not look like tat is in the cards, as the company has previously said that it sometimes uses "editorial judgment" when a case is borderline. It is possible that things could change, but the lack of a media department at Twitter suggests that it will not.