Social media giant Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) surprised users Wednesday when it began labelling passages from religious texts including the Bible as “disputed.” The tags included brief explanations of the disputed content, but the near instantaneous implementation of the new religious text policy has left the twitter userbase reeling.
“I’m furious,” exclaimed the self-described Christian mother of three Cheryl Aikens on her video blog, Come and Take Them Commie! “Christ didn’t die on that cross for Jack-o-Lantern Dorsey to argue with him. I’m calling upon the army of our Lord to heed the words of Christ and take up arms against this enemy.”
Twitter has not made a public statement or responded to requests for comment on the new policy, which has spurned a whirlwind of speculation ranging from general confusion to outright conspiratorial theorizing. Christian lobbying group Focus on the Family called the labels “un-American” and urged its supporters to delete their twitter accounts immediately lest they “succumb to the machinations of the Beast.”
Bible passages that have been reported to trigger the twitter disputed tag include:
Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth.”
(twitter’s tag: “This claim about God creating the heavens and Earth is disputed”)
Philipians 4:13 – “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
(twitter’s tag: “This claim about the ability to do everything is disputed”)
Matthew 19:21 – “Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’”
(twitter’s tag: “This claim about perfection and selling possessions is disputed”)
Passages from the Torah and Quran were also labelled as disputed, causing similar uproars in those communities of users.
Throughout Twitter’s 15-year history the company has generally shied away from moderating the platform. Detractors had long criticized that decision, saying that the website’s “wild-west” rules created a breeding ground for misinformation and cyber bullying. Those criticisms came to a head following the January 6th U.S. Capitol Riot when then President Trump’s twitter was permanently banned for inciting an insurrection, an action that is frowned upon in the larger tech community.
That event seemed to open the floodgates for twitter, leading to massive blanket bans over the past two months and far more aggressive use of the “disputed tag.” However, the use of the tag for religious passages is new, suggesting that twitter’s strategy towards moderating the platform has not yet fully reached its end.