Big Tech is preparing to punish social media users for their behavior. OFFLINE.

Apr 12th

I don't see any way this self-proclaimed power could be abused.

Don't like the sound of Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, planning to use a major social media platform he controls to "take action" against users "who display certain harmful behaviors" anywhere at any time including while not even on his platform?

What, you support "deadly violence?"

There's a reason they start off with "deadly violence," as one of the "certain harmful behaviors" over which they will take action, and a reason why their media enablers do as they're told and make sure that's right up there in the headline.

It's to shut you up.

Their "initial" list of unacceptable offline behavior you can't possibly oppose without being accused of being a terrorist/hater/bigot/misogynist, etc. is below. It comes from a document the title of which perfectly captures that chilling corporate-noir antiseptic ambiance we have all come to know and love:

"Off-Service Conduct Policy."

You need to conduct your life in a manner Twitch finds agreeable if you want to use their platform:

Prohibited actions (for now):

  • Deadly violence and violent extremism
  • Terrorist activities or recruiting
  • Explicit and/or credible threats of mass violence (i.e. threats against a group of people, event, or location where people would gather).
  • Leadership or membership in a known hate group
  • Carrying out or deliberately acting as an accomplice to non-consensual sexual activities and/or sexual assault
  • Sexual exploitation of children, such as child grooming and solicitation/distribution of underage sexual materials
  • Actions that would directly and explicitly compromise the physical safety of the Twitch community
  • Explicit and/or credible threats against Twitch, including Twitch staff

Even this initial list is problematic. Take "known hate groups." Who gets to determine that? I did a quick Google search and came up with these returns.

How about attending the "wrong" political event? Will that be a problem?

In the meantime, Twitch will be perfecting the platform and opening that ever-growing Overton Window of what is considered acceptable so that it can then be expanded at their discretion. They aren't even being coy about it. In fact as the very first question they address in their FAQ was "Why doesn't this new policy address other serious offenses?"

Though Twitch will initially tackle a handful of listed serious offenses, the platform said it aims for the guidelines to be iterative.

I bet it does.

Since offline harm can be difficult to verify, the company first prioritized categories it felt would be most harmful to its community.

More in a moment on how they plan to "verify" what you're doing when you're not on their platform which is totally their business now because that's what they've decided.

The notion of Big Tech booting people off their platforms for their real-life behavior is not entirely new, but the Twitch approach is something new.

Other social media platforms also take into account real-world harm propagated by users on their platforms, but Twitch's new policy is unique for its explicitness in tackling completely offline behavior and for some of the types of offline behavior it prohibits. For example, Facebook's community standards prevent mass murderers and members of terrorist, hate, criminal or human trafficking organizations from having any sort of presence on its platforms. Twitch's policy encompasses other offline behavior that might not be part of an organized criminal group, such as committing sexual assault.

YouTube has been dipping its toe into this area as well.

Last month, a Business Insider investigation highlighted a woman's accusation against Dominykas Zeglaitis, a member of the so-called Vlog Squad, which is led by popular vlogger David Dobrik. The unnamed woman said Zeglaitis sexually assaulted her on a night she and her friends appeared in one of the group's videos, when she said she was too intoxicated to provide consent. Zeglaitis declined to comment on the allegations to Insider.

Google-owned YouTube said following the report it would temporarily prevent Dobrik from monetizing his account through ads. YouTube's policies for creators say that off-platform behavior including violence or cruelty could result in penalties, such as losing out on promotional opportunities or on having their videos surfaced in recommendations for users.

He was accused. By an unnamed woman.

And now his livelihood has been taken away.

There is no due process in this new corporatist world, no checks and balances. No redress of grievances. Only power.

In fact, Twitch is basically hiring its own police force the better to verify behavior they find distasteful.

In order to be as thorough and efficient as possible in these situations, we're bringing on a highly-regarded third party investigative partner to support our internal team with these investigations.

"Highly regarded."

I guess that's why they don't name them.

This partner is an experienced investigations law firm that is dedicated to conducting independent workplace and campus investigations including those related to sexual discrimination or assault. They have deep expertise in these types of cases, as well as training in conducting investigations with respect and sensitivity to all parties involved. This partnership will allow us to more thoroughly investigate and respond to reports of off-service misconduct. We've also increased the size of our internal law enforcement response team which is extensively trained to manage sensitive, confidential investigations and partner with law enforcement.

And just to put the totalitarian cherry on top, there is of course the snitch line.

Additionally, we've created a dedicated email address where anyone can report egregious, off-service misconduct in the categories above committed by a member of the Twitch community. That email address is [email protected]

Big Brother!

...and sister, and son, and grandmother, and second cousin, and neighbor two doors down...

How can they get away with this?

They're private companies. They own the assets and you have no right to use their property if you don't abide by their terms.

It's a reasonable argument that makes sense in reasonable times.

These are not reasonable times.

What has changed is that the corporations' interests have aligned with one political party including corporate media interests. Taken together, they have the power to control the political conversation. They might be "private" but given their ideological collusion and power, they are far more.

Just this past weekend you had over 100 CEOs gather to discuss how to use their power in a coordinated action to further the political interests of one political party over another.

And, ladies and gentlemen...


Comments

There are 109 comments on this article.

Ready to join the conversation? Start your free trial today.

Access comments and our fully-featured social platform, completely free of charge.

Sign up Now
App screenshot

You must signup or login to view or post comments on this article.