The idea that tech’s vast reach makes it too big and complicated to control might suit the social media giants, but it’s just not true
If you’re not on Twitter, don’t start. It’s like smoking: highly addictive and no good will come of it. But if you are, log on and put “Elon Musk” in your handle. Twitter has had enough of fraudulent Musk imitators and has decided to put a stop to their merry japes. Your account will be immediately blocked until you’ve proved you’re a real person (which you do via a text to your phone).
So there is no reason at all why Twitter couldn’t deal with hate speech, disruptive bots or Russian troll factories: all they’d need is a few Nazi keywords, a flag on anyone with a name like @GREATBRITISHSTEVE2876776, a quick Musk-style block and an identity check. There are anxieties, of course, around fixes that come from the social media platforms themselves. This leaves political and moral adjudication to tech giants, whose only known skill is virtual domination. The likes of Mark Zuckerberg have no obvious competencies in ethics. But they could start really simply, by ejecting known racists and troll accounts. Sure, it’s a wide net that could easily ensnare the president of the United States, and who knows what mischief he’d be up to if he weren’t on Twitter. They could move on to the more generalised groups that simply sow bitter hatred and division with misinformation, those whom the Indian press recently called “mischief mongers”.