Long-time blogger Jim Treacher parlayed his experience into a column and a Twitter presence and, despite skepticism, is starting to wonder whether the platform really is going after conservatives:
Sometimes I think all the hand-wringing about some sort of online “war on conservatives” is silly. Sure, dude, maybe nobody is paying attention to your brilliant tweets because you’ve been shadowbanned. Perhaps Twitter’s “Trust & Safety Council” really is keeping you from reaching the audience you deserve. Or maybe you’re just boring and kind of dumb? I tend to be skeptical of these complaints, but it’s possible that there really is an ongoing conspiracy to silence half the country. I have to admit, it would explain why I keep getting suspended from Twitter for no good reason.
Although my larger emphasis on local issues and less cutting presentation (not to mention my much-smaller social media presence) keep me out of the thick of such things, I periodically pick up strange noise on Twitter. For example, I follow President Trump’s account, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of his Tweets in my stream unless somebody else has retweeted it. Maybe that’s just the way things go: So many tweets fly by that such things will happen. I’ve got a lot of Billy Joel in my Amazon Music collection, but when I put it on shuffle, he rarely comes up. I attribute that to the large amount of music I’ve added, not to a conspiracy. But still…
Just within the last week, a chunk of my Twitter followers fell away. Maybe I unknowingly wrote something that offended them all. More likely, the company was just cleaning out some non-person bots. But how much do I trust that this process doesn’t “accidentally” sweep in people whom Twitter’s algorithms have identified as undesirable?
Whatever the case, the solution is obvious: We shouldn’t be investing so much of our time and talent building the foundation of our audiences on this enemy turf. How to avoid doing so isn’t so easy a question, though.
Conservatives and others not in line with the liberal mainstream periodically offer suggestions, most commonly to create an alternative platform. Every now and then, I’ll hear noises about some such app, whether explicitly conservative or just adamant about remaining neutral, but they fade pretty quickly. My preferred solution is for us all to go back to blogging, and maybe an innovative app could make RSS feeds behave much as Twitter and Facebook do.
The flaw in all of these solutions, though, is that the other side, the broad Left, likes the tilt of the current arrangement and would like it even more if the rest of us left them to their echo chamber and mainstream audience. That feeling was already in the air toward the end of the Obama presidency, but Donald Trump cleaved our society, and the largely emotional reaction of mainstreamers was to retrench to an us versus them attitude. I pick that up much more tangibly than I pick up manipulation from Twitter, and it’s the bigger problem.
Blogging and social media temporarily gave us all access to the mainstream. A nobody blogger from the Right could build an audience from nothing and attract the attention of reporters and public figures, but that door is closing. And it’s closing not because the tech oligarchs are shutting it, but because the mainstream doesn’t want to interact with us anymore. When blogging gave us a way to knock, they opened up and looked out. The technology was new, and the openness seemed invigorating, at least when the they thought it wouldn’t threaten their worldview.
But information technology has threatened their worldview (not to mention their business models), to the extent of the last election’s inexplicable result, and they’ve decided they’ve seen enough.