The social network formerly known as Twitter has been undergoing more than just “superficial” branding transformations as of late, going from a reliable ally of state-driven censorship, to a platform that became the first major one to try to shed light on the mechanisms and practices of deep censorship.
The Twitter Files disclose more than just a private company exercising the right to be wrong in suppressing users’ free speech: they also implicated the US federal government with damning proof of serious transgressions, such as (explicitly unconstitutional) state collusion in censorship.
However, the US Supreme Court has now refused to consider X’s request to be able to publish some relevant numbers.
The original filing dates all the way back to 2014, in the wake of the revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden, that sent shock waves both among citizens and politicians.
But those behind the company/platform, now called X, seem well-aware that this story by no means ended with some government concessions (regarding disclosure) made after the Snowden revelations, or with the Twitter Files.
And so, possibly as a defense tactic going forward, X tried to be granted the right to reveal the number of times federal law enforcement “gets in touch” to get information, framed as pertaining to national security.
The Supreme Court decision came after X appealed when a lower instance court said that the FBI had every right to constrain X in sharing the information about the “national security investigations requests” number with the public.
The Supreme Court found the original court judgment did not violate First Amendment free speech protections.
It didn’t help that X frames its request as an attempt to (finally) set up “clear standards” pertaining to the right of tech companies to come clean with their users about the magnitude of government surveillance (even if only in terms of request number over a six-month period.)
With the dark cloud of US elections looming over the entirety of the political, social, and internet landscape in the US, this quote from the X petition rings pertinent:
“History demonstrates that the surveillance of electronic communications is both a fertile ground for government abuse and a lightning-rod political topic of intense concern to the public.”
But the US Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, confirming an earlier judgment, and stating that “the government’s restriction on Twitter’s speech is narrowly tailored in support of a compelling government interest.”
X owner Elon Musk reacted by saying it was “disappointing that the Supreme Court declined to hear this matter.”
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