Seth Abramson on the unlikelihood of replacing Twitter as an effective progressive thought center
Seth wrote the Proof series, Proof of Collusion, Proof of Corruption and Proof of Conspiracy. Read his Substack if you dont like Twitter.
Im not doing to respond to those who dislike Twitter because I have windmills to go tilt. I think this bears some thought here. Aloha everyone.
We mustnt forget how many years it took for Twitter to become the nations political water cooler. Every media outlet is here; every politician is here; every journalist is here; every pundit is here. Dont fool yourself: itd take any other site over a decade to become Twitter.
PS/ I understand folks having accounts elsewhere. I do too; Im on Substack (at both PROOF and RETRO), Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and now even Mastodon. But Id be deceiving myself if I thought any of those sites will *ever* hold a candle to what political Twitter is right now.
PS2/ YesElon Musk is a petulant manchild who is wreaking havoc on Twitter right now. But things *will* settle down here. And I do not want to let a conservative troll like Musk break up what is currently the best gathering place in the world for progressive voters and politicos.
PS3/ While I dont think it was his purpose, the fact remains that if Musk manages to scatter Americas progressives across 10+ websites with a tiny fraction of Twitters usability and audienceTribel Social, Counter Social, Mastodon, Blue Sky et. al.the far right will have won.
PS4/ And what is strangest of all to me is the normally savvy political people I know on here who seem to honestly believe that what Twitter is for American progressives can be recreated anywhere else in under a decade.
Thats simply not how digital communities form or function.
PS5/ Right now I see only one medium-term danger for Twitter: that the real plan Musk had for giving everyone a checkmark is to start over the process of identifying whos a public figure, with it now being mostly *conservatives*affecting how the platform works for progressives.
PS6/ If Musk were acting in good faithwhich thus far he clearly has not beenhe would have issued a secondary public figure notation to all those (432,000 people in all) who are *currently* verified before allowing anonymous users to be verified without identifying themselves.
PS7/ But Im not convinced that content moderation here is going to change much long-term. I think users will continue to be able to use Twitter for free if they choose to. I think monetization options will continue to be subtle *enough* that they dont much distract from the UX.
PS8/ Mastodon is confusing as hell and run by just one person. Other non-Twitter options equally have major Achilles heels. Twitter became what it is because it is generally speaking elegantly designed, incredibly usable, and the *consensus pick* of tens of millions of Americans.
PS9/ No one anywhere needs to take my advice (obviously). But my candid advice would be to stay on Twitter and use Twitter primarily unless and until the site literally falls apartwhich at this point I think any expert would tell you there is a less than 10% chance of happening.
PS10/ But Ill also make a prediction: given that the neo-Nazis already have Gab, Parler, GTTR, Truth Social, and evenlets admit itthe political quadrant of Facebook, if progressives now cede *Twitter* to them and then scatter to the wind, it will be a major blow to democracy.
I think we should encourage Musk to go in a positive direction through advertiser pressure but pretending that we're all going to leave it is kind of silly. There's literally no alternative which offers anything remotely similar to what it does.
I can listen to progressive thought here. Twitter is a site for news and informed, authoritative opinion from people I agree with and people I don't.
It seems to me that the global conversation breaks down when no one knows who is speaking. Eloon Mollusk appears to be determined to destroy both moderation and verification. There would then be no 'signal to noise ratio'; it would just be noise.
There are definitely risks. Im sad to see this happen. Youre completely right though, if I didnt already follow a number of great thinkers it would be valueless.
Owners, journalists, and pampered celebrities come and go. But they're a tiny part of the millions strong peon Twitter base.
It's an amusing spectacle all the same