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Is Twitter Keeping Track of Your Political Leanings – Big Brother Style?

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Is Twitter using its platform to keep track of your politial leanings, kind of like the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell's 1984?
jack dorsey

If you ever read the book 1984, then you probably assumed it would never happen.  I mean, living in an age of digital surveillance is one thing, but is it possible that Big Brother knows about your political leanings? And really, who is Big Brother anyway?  I have said recently that I think there are some tech giants who are getting bigger than the government, and not in a numbers perspective.  They are now offering services that require you to hand over every piece of data possible.  Sure, the government definitely knows a lot about you, but in some cases, they won’t necessarily know to what extent.  I mean, I posted my dinner on Instagram the other night, so Instagram now knows how I like my chicken.  It’s those kinds of details that could lead us to a really scary future.

You are all probably aware of the press tour that Jacky Dorsey has been participating in.  While I won’t get into all the details about who and where, he made an interesting comment when he joined Sam Harris on his podcast.  What he said is kind of alarming, and suggests that Twitter might have intel about the behavior of journalists.

“One of the things that was very evident during the lead-up to the [2016] election was, just looking at our journalist constituency, which was—is one of the most important constituencies on Twitter. The amount of journalists on the left who were following folks on the right end of the spectrum was very, very small. The amount of journalists on the right end of the spectrum following folks on the left was extremely high.”

A spokesperson for Twitter tried to back pedal on this one, and suggested that Dorsey was referring to a study done by MIT.  But is there more to this than meets the eye?  If there was a study done by MIT, then that’s one thing.  But if there isn’t, then political opinions is something that Twitter tracks internally.   Does it matter, though, that journalists would follow people that they relate to or are interested in?  Back in the early 2000s, we saw the rise in one-sided media, so does it really surprise you that left leaning journalists would follow people on the left side of the political spectrum?  And vice versa?

Not necessarily, but there was an inference made on some of these podcasts which suggest that left-leaning journalists are also (in Dorsey’s opinion) less open-minded than their conservative counterparts.  Or at least during the 2016 Presidential Campaign they were.  I guess I’d like to better understand where Dorsey is coming from when it comes to making these assumptions.  Does the data support these facts?  And if so, why is that data not being put out there for everyone to review and understand. 

Another theory is that Dorsey is spreading misinformation.  Meaning, he’s putting information out there to start a political storm of epic proportions.  But to what end?  I think, in 2019, when we look at today’s media, we always have to consider what is actually factual.  While I’m not convinced that this is what he is doing, we do see a lot of fake news stories every day, so what could he be hiding?  Or is he trying to create a diversion to shift the conversation?  Time will tell on this one, as the truth always has a way of revealing itself.

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