If Twitter conspires with a foreign government to silence a dissident, and then that dissident is murdered by that government, does Twitter have any responsibility?
Jamal Khashoggi has vanished. An insider in the Saudi monarchy for many years, he fell from favor after criticizing Pres. Trump in December 2016. Then the Washington Post hired him as a columnist, probably because of his opposition to Trump. He had been a journalist for decades, but only after he became an enemy of Trump did the Washington Post hire him. Now he has disappeared.
In a column he wrote in the Washington Post on September 18, 2017 (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2017/09/18/saudi-arabia-wasnt-always-this-repressive-now-its-unbearable/), he observed:
“My friends and I living abroad feel helpless. We want our country to thrive and to see the 2030 vision realized. We are not opposed to our government and care deeply about Saudi Arabia. It is the only home we know or want. Yet we are the enemy. Under pressure from my government, the publisher of one of the most widely read Arabic dailies, Al-Hayat, canceled my column. The government banned me from Twitter when I cautioned against an overly enthusiastic embrace of then-President-elect Donald Trump. So I spent six months silent, reflecting on the state of my country and the stark choices before me.”
According to the Spectator, “With almost two million Twitter followers, he was the most famous political pundit in the Arab world…” It is interesting that Twitter cancels the accounts of Saudi dissidents upon request from the Saudi government.
Parenthetically: In October 2015, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the Saudi billionaire controlled 5% of Twitter stock: Arrested by the Crown Prince this year and accused of various kinds of corruption, he was forced to disgorge billions of dollars in assets. It is unclear who controls that Twitter stock now. This stake would appear to be the second largest holding of Twitter stick.
And so the question stands: If Twitter conspires with a foreign government to silence a dissident, and then that dissident is murdered by that government, does Twitter have any responsibility for that murder?