This post originally appeared on the Umbel blog. The Umbel Marketing team helped edit and refine the original content.
On August 20, Dick Costolo, Twitters’ CEO, announced that his company would suspend all accounts that shared the gruesome beheadings of journalist James Foley. The internet cried censorship whereas news organizations argued that Twitter’s CEO exercised standard editorial rights. The Guardian stated that for “the first time, Twitter acknowledged it was a platform that exercises editorial judgment.”
Twitter, fundamentally, is a company that monetizes the distribution of content. Their model is the same as that of Facebook, Google, The Guardian and the New York Times. But as of August 20, Twitter has more in common with The Guardian and the New York Times than it does with a Facebook or Google – because now it discloses its editorial judgements.
On the other hand, Facebook and Google operate in black boxes, shrouded by advanced algorithms that encourage us to gradually consume more information and generate higher ad revenues. These companies disguise their lack of accountability by arguing that they know us better than we know ourselves. They can predict the news we’d like to see better than we can on our own accord, or so they say.
And this approach might work right now, but these companies should exercise what they preach in their PR materials – that is, openness and accountability. Doing so is easy and has no material harm on their businesses. If anything, it’ll ignite the same debate caused by Dick Costolo and force us to think more about the types of information we consume and the methods by which we receive it.