Some More Thoughts on ‘Winning Twitter’

Last week, some asshole with a blog wrote:

But maybe if there isn’t One Social Media App to Bind Them All, we won’t have to fight for Twitter.

What I mean is ‘winning on Twitter’ is (was?) critical because it could potentially shape how reporters covered things and how a subset of policy makers (inside and outside of government) perceived the world. So there’s no choice but to run to ramparts on, well, nearly every political issue.

Philip Bump gets at what is motivating the right wing (boldface mine):

What’s odd about the Twitter-Threads fight, though, is that the right theoretically got what it wanted from Twitter. It has an owner who is amenable to their arguments and who refuses to curtail misinformation. Quite the opposite. So why do they want to go on Threads in the first place? It’s as though Sean Hannity was mad that NBC wasn’t letting him have a segment on the “Today” show. Just say your thing on Fox News!

The difference is that, for many of these users, the fight is the point. Musk said it himself in a tweet disparaging Meta: “It is infinitely preferable to be attacked by strangers on Twitter, than indulge in the false happiness of hide-the-pain Instagram.” It’s an intensely weird thing to say, particularly as the proprietor of a social media platform that is ostensibly centered on encouraging use. Actually, Musk insists, having a bad time is good.

But this is what he wants from social media. It is what Trump wants and what many others on the right want. The appeal of Twitter in general was that it allowed everyone the chance to interact with famous people. The appeal for many on the right was that it also offered the opportunity for them to lash out at those strangers (and less famous ones). If they all leave, what’s the point? Maybe Musk thinks it’s preferable to be attacked by strangers, but I suspect, say, Katie Couric doesn’t.

Social media has now splintered in the same way the traditional media did, with unclear long-term effects. It means that while Truth Social and Twitter are competitors, it’s largely only in the same way that Breitbart and One America News are. There is one central difference, though: The right’s use of social media is not only about presenting competing information in the political war but in using the platforms themselves as battlefields.

And why? Because being banned for abuse or being called out for misinformation happens publicly — allowing it to be reframed as left-wing censorship efforts and, therefore, small victories in their own right. It’s the recent pattern of right-wing political actors publishing emails from journalists as though something nefarious is afoot, but at scale.

One of the things I like about Bluesky (and I’m trying to get my Twitter followers to the promised land, but it takes a while with only a few invites at a time) is that there aren’t a bunch of rightwing assholes trying to make everyone else miserable. And when they do get the occasional invite, Bluesky has a hard block feature (though the assholes can be aware of your block), meaning they can’t interact with you at all: no having to see their bullshit because someone quotetootskeetposted their inanity. Their reach, especially after blocking campaigns*, is very limited, in no small part, because it’s so hard for them to be aggravating.

Anyway, like I wrote last week, maybe not having One Site That Binds Them All is a good thing–and it sure as shit shouldn’t be genocide-enabling Meta.

*You have a right to free speech and the rest of us have a right to make it as unpleasant and difficult for you to inflict that free speech upon us. Enough with the Debate Me, Bro crapola.

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