Thomas Rid Profile picture
12 Jan, 12 tweets, 4 min read
The pernicious rise of conspiracy theory—accessible, attractive, violent—is arguably the biggest threat to open societies today. This threat is most acute in the US. Twitter's choice to deplatform aggressively, including Trump, is the right one, no matter what Merkel & Navaly say
Open societies must defend themselves against closed systems of political thought. Conspiracy theory is a closed system of thought, inaccessible to corrective feedback. When the threat gains strength in unprecedented ways, our defensive mechanisms must adjust.
Deplatforming violent conspiracy theory is not "censorship"—what we are witnessing is an attempt to push Qanon back into the fringe, to ostracize it, a bit like extreme displays of violence or pornography; it remains accessible & legal, but is harder to get to, harder to spread.
Let's use the word "censorship" with a little more caution and nuance. Think first.
Excellent question. Last week it was not politically viable to have anybody other than large tech companies make that call. They rose to the occasion. We now need to have a long, careful conversation about how to assess and improve their emergency measure.
Fair, late. But better late than not at all. And arguably it needed a cataclysmic event like the storming of the Capitol to enable a decisive response. I thought that yesterday's discussion on Pod Save America was helpful…
David Kaye makes an excellent point here. Most of those citing Merkel's critique of Twitter don't appear to understand what they are inviting
Or: Q is now a national security problem.

An excellent short essay here, don't miss it:…
Shorter Merkel on Twitter's Trump ban: the problem isn't the decision; the problem is that a company made the decision, not the government.

And that take, in my view, is simply naive in the context of last week's events and the US political situation.
And just for the record, I've been fiercely critical of Twitter in the past. But credit where credit is due.
This morning it sunk in for me just how misguided, naive, and counterproductive it was for Angela Merkel to weigh in on U.S. technology companies (among others) trying to help minimize the risk of political violence in the United States, at a most critical moment.
As expected: harder to get to, harder to spread — but also harder to monitor, and likely more radical…

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More from @RidT

14 Dec 20
Here's a high-res image of SVR headquarters (former First Chief Directorate, KGB) that I purchased for my book, by Marina Lystseva Image
Also, a subtle point on terminology: exfiltrating data from regular foreign intelligence targets — however stealthy, targeted, or labor-intensive — should not be called an "attack." An intrusion becomes an attack when adversaries modify, delete, or leak targeted files.
Read 8 tweets
5 Nov 20
Trump’s very impressive results in 2020, even if he loses, should put another big nail in the coffin of the theory that he owed his win in 2016 to Russian interference (or Comey’s).
Yes. Healthy democracies face their problems and try to fix them, not blame them on others.
“Impressive“ because this election should not have been this close, not by any measure.
Read 5 tweets
23 Oct 20
An extraordinary find. We are apparently looking at the photo of a WhatsApp endpoint, a Blackberry, allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden, while logged into a Russian cellphone network. This picture is unlikely to come from the mysterious Delaware laptop. So many questions.
If this text was sent to Hunter, as opposed to received by him, that raises even more unpleasant questions: how did this photo make its way from an MTS ROS cellphone network to Fox News, and was Giuliani the conduit?
Read 4 tweets
19 Oct 20
Today's GRU indictment is an incredible document. The Five Eyes intelligence communities, I would suspect, must have stunning visibility into Russian military intelligence operations if today's disclosures are considered dispensable…
Note: Russian military intelligence camouflaged as North Korean
Whoever wrote that paragraph probably had a smirk on their face
Read 8 tweets
15 Oct 20
Oh, it appears that Rudy Giuliani misspoke to the WSJ this morning, about those leaked files. Here, I fixed it.… Also, let's add a few examples of hack-forge-leak. Image
March 2014 example of hack-forge-leak, from ACTIVE MEASUREs, p. 354–359. The real hacked emails, of a Ukrainian colonel, are in the "all" folder. Three juicy forgeries are in "more interesting" folder. Image
Two examples of forged emails slipped into this genuine March 2014 hack (and then leaked). ImageImage
Read 6 tweets

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