Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Twitter's political censorship on the NHS

@blockthebill was the Twitter account campaigning against the 2011 Health and Social Care Bill: that introduced by David Cameron's government and his health secretary Andrew Lansley to implement the permission of private healthcare corporations to takeover hospitals in Britain for the purposes of profiteering, and eventual erosion of the UK's universal healthcare system, already deprived by frontline cuts and overwhelmed by corporate bureaucracy, into a marketised insurance-based one. For some reason, Twitter deemed it justifiable and necessary to suspend this account directly themselves. We can give Twitter the benefit of the doubt and assume that they hold a rationale that views the account as futile, seeing as the political establishment have managed to force the act into law, even with immense opposition from healthcare practitioners and a contempt for any transparent accountability on its consequential harm.  But to me at least, the administrative effort of Twitter in deleting an account just for promoting a specific political advocacy is something of an anomaly in its code of conduct. It may be a private company, but it is at least a profound mistake and contradiction on their part if conducting themselves as a public medium under the auspices of promoting open political debate and freedom of expression.

Nevertheless, the same campaigners opposed to the privatisation of the NHS are now standing to totally end its destruction by neoliberal forces as @AxeTheAct. I encourage all those concerned to follow them. For as long as their account exists, anyway. With the aim to give Twitter no supposed legitimacy to delete them.

UPDATE: Twitter have SUSPENDED the Axe The Act account opposed the UK government's NHS privatisation. 

This is absolutely outrageous and appalling political censorship. Perhaps corporate sponsors with vested interests in the healthcare market have some role in such draconianism. 

Update: I have received a great amount of attention for this post, which I appreciate. I acknowledge the possibility that these accounts may have been taken down due to Twitter's spam algorithms. But it is the frequency at which these accounts were taken down is what really invoked my suspicions, especially since Twitter's corporate sponsors include companies such as Virgin who are involved in the government's healthcare privatisation. I would say that the primary purpose of my objection and suspicion is to hold Twitter to account: regardless of whether my suspicions are wrong or not, we must seek and press for a transparent, reasonable direct reason if Twitter wishes to take down accounts in this manner. And we should make a clear deceleration that it will be held accountable by us if any kind of political censorship of accounts is exerted or attempted.

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