Social-media giant Twitter’s got 99 problems, yet the politically correct company is far more worried about the ‘‘optics” of cooperating with federal agents trying to stop jihadist plotters online.
The company’s stock hit a record low this month. Half of the company’s senior executives abandoned their posts earlier this year. Ad growth is sluggish. Desperate attempts to mimic Facebook have turned off users. And the micro-blogging network’s political pandering to liberals through the formation of an Orwellian Trust and Safety Council earned global scorn.
Despite these existential troubles, Twitter bigwigs turned their attention this week to what they reportedly perceive as a real threat to their ailing business: American counterterrorism officials!
No wonder Twitter’s twumbling.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the tech titan cut off US intelligence agencies’ access to an exclusive tweet-sifting service it owns a 5 percent stake in called Dataminr. Its staff sends clients valuable analyses and alerts of ‘‘unfolding terror attacks, political unrest and other potentially important events.”
For the past two years, Dataminr has worked with government-surveillance operatives to detect and flag real-time patterns and national-security dangers found in hundreds of millions of daily tweets. It offered early warnings on the Paris terror attacks last fall, the Brussels jihad this March and ISIS attacks on oil fields in Libya.
The feds have been rightly under fire for not being on top of terrorists’ social-media organizing and communications. ISIS recruiters, propagandists and planners have spread like gangrene on the Internet. Pilot programs with cutting-edge private-tech companies like the one developed with Dataminr make absolute homeland-security sense.
You might think it would also make good business sense. Who wouldn’t want to boast of proprietary algorithms producing actionable intelligence that might save countless American lives (as opposed to just benefiting Wall Street traders)?
Answer: The preening social-justice nitwits at Twitter who, according to the Journal’s intel sources, are concerned with the negative impression some in the public might have because Dataminr teamed with the government against Muslim terrorists.
Twitter is putting progressive politics above patriotism much like Apple, which infamously refused to help the FBI unlock dead San Bernardino jihadist Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone earlier this year.
Here’s the difference: There’s no privacy principle involved in denying our intel agencies access to Dataminr’s expertise. All the tweets published on the platform are public information.
Moreover, Twitter and Dataminr are happy to sell their news alerts to other paying clients — including financial institutions, NGOs and media organizations — just as long as those clients aren’t using the data to, you know, stop bloody terrorist attacks by Islamic suicide bombers, mass murderers and machete-wielders.
Twitter’s direct message to government counterterrorism experts now shut out of the Dataminr service: Screw you. Screw America. You’re on your own.
The ACLU is ecstatic, of course. Its deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer praised the cutoff and told: ‘‘It’s completely understandable that a social-media company like Twitter doesn’t want to be seen as an arm of American intelligence agencies.”
So Twitter prefers to be seen as a de facto arm of al Qaeda, al-Shabab, ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood? Duly noted. If the social network hadn’t allowed tens of thousands of jihad operatives from around the world to infest and exploit the site in the first place, there’d be no urgent reason for our intel agencies to monitor them.
As for troublesome ‘‘optics,” nobody beats the jihadists at disseminating negative images. Just a few months ago, the Islamic State put out a video threatening Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey with bullet-riddled photos of his face and the iconic Twitter bluebird logo.
Twitter won’t help the government track terrorists with the best available tools in its arsenal. But if jihad were to strike Twitter headquarters, these same information-squelching executives will expect every last government counterterrorism agency and law-enforcement office to help them out and bring Islamic attackers to justice.