Social Media

Evil twin Twitter and the media

Musk took over Twitter, immediately fired most of the executive staff, and has seemingly lowered the restrictions on some of the more notorious Twitter offenders (of which sadly pathetic but proud killer Kyle Rittenhouse is one).

Musk’s own tweets would seem to support our worst fears of his impact on the site. This screenshot of a Hillary Clinton tweet and a Musk reply is a good example. Instead of joining with Clinton to condemn what was a heinous attack on Paul Pelosi, Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Musk decided to jump onto the most-cringeworthy, fringeworthy conspiracies.

Musk implies there's 'more to story' on the Pelosi attack

What’s worse is the despicable and disgusting lie about Paul Pelosi is being allowed to flourish on Twitter. So much so that I’m wondering if Musk has told the people that handle moderation to cease their activities.

Good-bye Good Twitter

To celebrate Musk’s take over, the right burst forth in hate speech, including an astounding 500% increase in the use of the N word.

tweet about increase

Tom Fitton, that miserable excuse for a human being who wants to destroy the quality of life we still have, is claiming that Twitter is censoring a report on illegal ballot harvesting in Florida. The above-mentioned Rittenhouse is looking into it.

The reality is: there is no illegal ballot harvesting in Florida. The claims are a lie. A fact-checked lie. So Twitter is preventing an election lie, and that has the right so very unhappy. Which says a lot about the right.

But how long will the lies be caught and tossed? Already, the appalling and ugly-as-hell rightwing-generated myth surrounding the Paul Pelosi attack that Musk tweeted is dominating the service.

Meet Evil Twin Twitter

All the ugly activity—the Pelosi attack myth, the racism and bigotry—will end up driving sane people off the site. Many folks have quit already; moving on to singular writing or other social media sites. This leaves the toxic and the even more toxic to control what happens at the site.

Normally, folks who want to stay with Twitter would have a solution: just block everyone who is toxic. And in a way this would work. We could resurrect Good Twitter, and float it above its evil twin.

The problem, though, is the media. The media is used to examining Twitter trends to figure out what stories to cover, and for how long. If extremists on the right have excessive influence on these trends, and the media continues it’s lazy, click-bait behavior, Musk and Evil Twin Twitter could have a profound impact on what news is published.

Twitter and other social media sites have already had a wrongful impact on how news is covered—with major news organizations determined to normalize extremist rightwing activity in order to appear to be ‘balanced’ in its coverage based on loud howls of protest on social media.

I shudder to think how much worse this will all get with Musk in control.


Rethinking our Twitter Twitchy Actions

Cleaning up after the bird

Very interesting piece by Sam Bibble at Gawker on Justine Sacco. Sacco was the PR person who tweeted a bit of satire that blew up in her face, and almost destroyed her career.

The problem with Twitter is every post lacks context. You don’t know the person to know if they’re joking. You haven’t seen the build-up to know if the post is ironic, satirical, or a true belief. And it’s so damn easy to retweet the actions and reactions, and to get caught up in the rush to condemn. That’s the bad, the very horrid part of Twitter.

At the same time, Twitter can be damn useful. Anyone who closely follows the Ferguson events will tell you that you can find more up-to-date information in Twitter than any in any news site. We can find a lot of racist crap, true, but we also found livestream links, breaking news, and even thoughtful insight, 140 characters at a time.

Bibble’s advice for weathering a Twitter storm is good—don’t engage, you’ll only had fuel to the fire. But maybe we should seriously re-think our twitchy actions. There are two kinds of outrageous tweets at the core of these storms. The first is the satirical tweet, taken out of context; if we retweet these, we can be harming an innocent person. The second type of outrageous tweet is from those who want attention; if we retweet what they post, all we’re doing is giving them the attention they want.

I watched this happen with person claiming to be a journalist, who tried to write himself into Ferguson’s history and failed. Every new and outrageous tweet of his that got caught up and magnified resulted in him getting at least a hundred new followers. In our outraged reaction, we gave him exactly what he wanted, and now he’s been featured in publications such as the New York Times, Slate, and the Washington Post. We didn’t create the monster, but we sure gave it juice.