Twitter is kind of terrible. Why don’t you give it up for the New Year?


Some song lyrics are appropriate here.

This used to be a funhouse
But now it’s full of evil clowns
It’s time to start the countdown
I’m gonna burn it down down down
I’m gonna burn it down

–Pink

Twitter has been a dung heap for a long time — they’ve been notorious for ignoring harassment and treating some truly awful people with kid gloves, to the point where it was beginning to hurt their reputation and their bottom line. What to do, short of actually cleaning up the service? Announce that they’re finally going to ban some Nazis! And they did, and there was much happy PR.

The American Nazi Party’s account was suspended, as were the accounts belonging to Generation Identity, an extremist youth group, and Vanguard America, a white supremacist group that gained attention for its role in the white nationalist rally that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia in August. (James Fields, who was charged with first-degree murder after driving a car into a crowd of counter-protesters at that rally, killing one person and injuring several others, had attended it in affiliation with Vanguard America.)

Individuals removed as a result of the new policy include the neo-Nazi and leader of the National Socialist Movement Jeff Schoep, as well as Michael Hill, founder of the militant white supremacist group League of the South.

In an extremely significant move, Twitter also suspended two accounts belonging to Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen, the leader and deputy leader of a right-wing British nationalist group called Britain First. Both Fransen and Golding were arrested last week over multiple charges concerning incitement of hate in Northern Ireland. But Fransen in particular is best known in the US for posting last month several extremely violent anti-Muslim propaganda videos, which were controversially retweeted by President Donald Trump.

Feels good, doesn’t it? Quite a few triumphant news articles popped up this week. How nice for Twitter. You know this was their goal, to pick off a few obvious targets, and then sit back and graciously accept the applause.

I’m glad the American Nazi Party’s official Twitter channel has been eradicated. But you know what hasn’t been removed? American Nazis. They’re all still there. What would have been interesting is if they used all the information they have on who was following the Nazi party, and used that to scan deeper. Some of their followers would have been critics investigating them, but others would have been people cheering them on. Can we get rid of them, too?

You know who is still on Twitter? Other racist organizations, like VDare. David Duke, Ann Coulter, Mike Cernovich, Gavin McInnes. Alex Jones and Paul Joseph Watson. You can also search for terms like “White genocide” and “cultural marxism” or various racial slurs and find plenty of small fry who aren’t dissuaded at all.

Donald Trump is still on Twitter. I’ll believe in their commitment to principle when they ban that hatemonger, but they won’t, since their only commitment is to dollars.

Just so you know, 31 December is #TwitterEvacuationDay, when many people are making the jump to alternative micro-blogging media, or just throwing up their hands in disgust and giving it all up. It’s the only way to make Twitter wake up, I think…or at the very least, to personally escape the toxic trap.

I’m recommending that everyone make the leap to Mastodon — or, I hope, that at least some of my friends get an account there. Really, it’s just like Twitter — the interface is exactly like Tweetdeck, if you’re familiar with that. The big difference is that, instead of one giant central server for everyone, it’s distributed among many smaller servers, or instances. You see all the activity on your instance (which is necessarily going to be smaller than what goes on on Twitter), but you can also see what your friends on other instances are doing, and you can also browse the contents of federated instances…that is, servers linked to yours.

It sounds more complicated than it is. Just think of your instance as your local neighborhood, but you can easily stay in touch with everyone you want in other neighborhoods.

Go read about Mastodon if you’re thinking about it. I’ve found it a most pleasant social experience. For one thing, the admins don’t allow Nazis to frolic about, and the fact that each instance administrator has a smaller group of people to manage means harassment gets noticed and slapped down hard.

If you’re curious about what kind of instances there are out there, there’s a page that lets you search for your options. For example, you can find an instance that flat out prohibits nudity or spoilers (you can get kicked out if you violate the rules), or one that says sure, you can post your naked re-enactment of the climactic scenes from The Last Jedi. Each instance may also have a general theme — there are SciFi servers, for example, so you can move into a place where your neighbors are more likely to talk about the latest SF novels.

And then you can just join Mastodon through the instance of your choice. It’s easy.

You can find me at @pzmyers@octodon.social. Send me a hello when you’ve signed up.

Comments

  1. Dark Jaguar says

    They did ban “The Donald” (Golden Toilet of the world), then everyone complained, then they put it back saying it was the act of a single disgruntled employee. Heck even left wing commentors on TV said that wasn’t a good move. It’s hard to figure out the best way to handle a situation like that. Hate groups don’t deserve a platform, but what if that platform becomes so ubiquitous that is is now “The platform”, which is de facto the ONLY way to get ideas out to people? Well, I would say that we never should have let Twitter get that big a foothold in the first place.

    I’m rambling again.

  2. says

    That’s the point, though: if it acquires great power by being “The platform”, build some more platforms and get people to use them.

  3. StonedRanger says

    Don’t have a mobile device or a mobile phone. No twitter, no facebook, none of that garbage. Don’t need it and don’t want it.

  4. Vivec says

    It’s where a significant amount of artists, myself included, host and promote our art, and I’m not really willing to take the hit in views/donations/commissions that’d come from switching platforms, and Mastodon doesn’t seem particularly equivalent in terms of like, ability to promote outside of one’s community.

    The only sites that really can compete with twitter in this regard, as far as I know, are deviantart and tumblr, but both have horrific anti-user practices that make it nearly nonfunctional for anything but side-hosting fanart.

  5. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Can’t boycott tweeting. I don’t don’t do it now. And not interested in other forums.

  6. says

    #3: Yet you managed to post a comment here! You know, you don’t need a mobile device to use Twitter or facebook.

    #4: Yeah, that’s a problem. I’m not closing my Twitter account because it’s still a good way to promote blog posts, too. But I’m more comfortable with that socializing thing (you know, what social media is supposed to be for) on Mastodon.

  7. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    I can recognize that twitter and facebook are both useful in many ways. However, in addition to their terrible policies about what expression they wish their services to promote and/or tolerate and what to prohibit, I prefer to keep my computer clean of the relentless tracking they both do.

    For those reasons, I am twitter and facebook free.

  8. =8)-DX says

    I’m on the Mastodon/Octogon thingie, but either I’ve messed something up, or the interface makes no sense to me… I’ll try playing with it later. What is a Tweetdeck, why would I want one?
    Sheesh I’m on the wrong end of the millenial spectrum.
    =8)-DX

  9. John Morales says

    I read twitter stuff when I care to — but I absolutely hate “push” tech. Basically, I want to be able to opt in, not have to opt out.

    I can’t imagine wanting to tweet. Ever.

    FWIW, I have a mobile phone these days, but have made two (2) calls since I got it 4 years ago, and received none (other than the spam the service provider puts out). My credit keeps running out before I use it, but it’s handy to have just in case. Why do I even have one? Obs, it’s not a smart phone*, and it’s powered off on the occassions I carry it.
    The reason? It’s there in case of emergencies, and I had a mobile brick back in the early 90s when I had to be on-call for my job, so I know what an imposition they are.

  10. Ulgaa says

    @AdrianCJax has been working on a twitter/facebook type replacement. Looks very promising. He was fed up with all the racist/nazi/misogynists on twitter so he is putting his labor into a replacement.

  11. Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach says

    I would quit it if I could, but I’ve never had it, or any other social media. I won’t pretend its a principled stance, I mostly just think there’s nothing I particularly want to scream into the void.

  12. joehoffman says

    I’m on twitter every day, but it’s a friendly place. Scholars sharing their new papers and blog posts, writers giving us teasers about their new novels, light-verse poets (who I was delighted to discover are still a thing), pun wars….
    Only security measure I ever took was muting unpleasant accounts. I’m not sure how people ended up with Nazis, and I don’t want to know.

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