Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Goodbye Twitter!

Been thinking a lot recently about Negative Engagement. As Mr. Brennan told me, "Love me or hate me... but don't ignore me..."

Elon Musk, at the time the richest man in the world (more on that later), took over Twitter in October 2022. One of the first things he tweeted after he took over was regurgitating a homophobic far-right conspiracy theory about the attack on Paul Pelosi. Many took that as a signal of what was to come, and, indeed, a steady stream of far-right tropes and memes from come from Musk ever since. Despite Musk claiming to be a "moderate" or "centrist", he has encouraged people to vote Republican and offered support for Ron DeSantis and Kevin McCarthy. Beyond that, he's reinstated people banned for past transgressions, including some unsavory white supremacists, anti-semites, misogynists, fascists, Holocaust deniers, COVID deniers, and Putin supporters. Musk interacts on Twitter almost exclusively with fanboys, tech nerds, and alt-right freaks and geeks like Ian Miles Cheong and Kim Dot Un, amplifying their messages. Offering a platform on Twitter to would-be outliers like the Nazis at the Daily Stormer and jailed rapist Andrew Tate only helps to normalize them.

I turned to Twitter a couple of years ago to get away from Facebook dependency. I was annoyed by many things at Facebook and found Twitter to be an attractive alternative. That all changed under Musk. I liked Twitter for the politics. For the views of women and people of color. News from the frontlines in Ukraine. 

Now it's very much tilted toward the right-wing. COVID disinformation is allowed again. Anti-semites started a hashtag #TheNoticing which was tolerated by Twitter under it got embarrassing. 

After a few months I decided to spend less time on Twitter and looked for alternatives. I'm still looking. I still hope that Musk will get bored with Twitter and sell it in a year or two and it will go back to the way it was, but in the meanwhile I've decided to maintain my account on Twitter but to not use it very much.

I had spent a lot of time the past month or so railing against Andrew Tate and his still being on Twitter, even though he is in jail for rape right now in Romania.

Negative engagement. Would it affect Liberals buying Teslas? Investing in Tesla? Advertising on Twitter? Using Twitter?

I was convinced in my heart that positive engagement was better and longer-lasting and more profound that negative engagement.

Then I read an analysis that Twitter could make $12M on ads on Twitter on Andrew Tate's hateful content.

Negative engagement ads pay the same as positive engagement ads.

It's important to take a stand against negative trends. But we must keep in mind at the same time we are amplifying their messages even when we condemn them.

Beyond that, it's just important to focus on the positive and what you are in favor of, not just what you are opposed to.

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