The beautiful thing about Twitter is it allows the public free and unfettered access to the minds of their favorite celebrities and public figures. Good or bad, wisdom or gaffe, Twitter records everything a person or group has the good fortune or bad luck to post. Remember back when Ashton Kutcher tweeted about Penn State firing Joe Paterno after the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal? His misinformed tweet caused a firestorm and forced him to suspend his personal used of his official Twitter page, at least for a time.
In a world where every public figure, celebrity, politician, etc., has a public relations team, a publicist, an official spokesperson, wranglers, personal assistants, and babysitters all watching what they do and say to maintain a (relatively) positive public image, it’s refreshing to me to see that these cardboard cutouts are actually people beneath all the gloss and sheen. Hilarious even. Mostly hilarious.
All joking aside, Twitter serves a real purpose. It gives us insight. It allows us to cut through all the bullshit and form real opinions about people. That’s why Twitter’s recent decision to suspend the various accounts of a political watchdog group is so troublesome. Essentially, the group operated several different accounts that followed various politicos in different countries. Anytime a politician, diplomat, member of parliament, or head of state tweeted something and then deleted it the group would repost that deleted tweet. Someone or someones at Twitter decided that wasn’t something that needed to happen. Here is the response the Open State Foundation received from Twitter regarding their rationale for suspending the accounts:
“Imagine how nerve-racking – terrifying, even – tweeting would be if it was immutable and irrevocable? No one user is more deserving of that ability than another. Indeed, deleting a tweet is an expression of the user’s voice.”
This would make sense if this group was reposting the deleted tweets of private citizens. They are not. Their stated purpose is to record these deleted tweets to be available for the public to see. The public these politicians purport to serve. Open State Foundation director Arjan El Fassad had this to say about the whole situation:
“What elected politicians publicly say is a matter of public record. Even when tweets are deleted, it’s part of parliamentary history. These tweets were once posted and later deleted. What politicians say in public should be available to anyone. This is not about typos but it is a unique insight on how messages from elected politicians can change without notice.”
Whatever your political affiliation, you should be slightly annoyed, if not totally furious that Twitter has decided to limit your ability to know what your elected officials actually think and say. They have decided to close the proverbial window into these people’s souls all because they believe politicians have a right to retract things they say publicly on an open forum. The list of countries the Open State Foundation was active in monitoring was quite large. It went from the US and Canada to many countries in the European Union and included countries in South America, Asia, the Middle East, and the Vatican. This was an invaluable service that can no longer be offered, and that is a damn shame.