Home / Section: Comic strips
CSotD: Elon’s a-coming and the cards say…
Elon Musk is purchasing Twitter and, as Dr. MacLeod notes, social media is ablaze with outrage and, as he suggests, they’re flooding social media with furious denunciations of social media.
Some of them may actually be bailing out; Mark Hamill notes that he’s felt a great disturbance in the Twitterverse, as if thousands of voices suddenly cried out in anger and suddenly silenced themselves.
I, too, seem to have lost some followers overnight — 16, to be exact, which is one-half of one-percent of my flock. By contrast, Hamill losing 8,000 of his five million followers is a smaller percentage. Regrettable, but I suspect we’ll both survive.
The fact that I know how Mark Hamill feels about all this is a major part of why I’m not fretting over the deal. I’m one of his five-million-minus-eight-thousand followers not because I’m a huge fan of Star Wars (or Corvette Summer) but because Hamill is a funny guy with interesting insights. Ditto with George Wallace and JJ Watt and Sandra Shamas and Elaine Booslerthough I was fans of them all before I began following them on Twitter.
A couple of them follow me back, which is awfully flattering and seems to boost the quality of my tiny 2,000 followers, but mostly reinforces why I like Twitter and am not (yet) panicking: You get to choose who you want on your feed, which brings us to our first
Juxtaposition of the Day
I mostly don’t get why people accuse Twitter of being an open sewer of trolls and misinformation, but that “mostly” is why I put Bramhall and Zyglis’s number of followers there. With roughly ten times my number of followers, I suppose it’s harder to curate your account and keep things civilized.
Still, blocking people on Twitter is a single keystroke.
I’ve often compared Facebook trolls to a table of noisy drunks in a restaurant: They can ruin a night out and, even if you move to another table, you’ll still hear their obnoxious uproar.
I’d love to eat at a restaurant where you could just push a button and the floor would open under them, they’d tumble into an oubliette, the floor would close back up and we’d order another bottle of wine.
Not only do Facebook’s opaque algorithms constantly place unknown boorish loudmouths on your feed, but what little we do know about how their system works reveals that they purposely promote and feature hostile, obnoxious, toxic posts in order to get your hackles up and increase your likelihood of responding and engaging, boosting the traffic their advertisers pay them for.
When I was editing one local paper, there was a combination bowling alley and strip joint that accounted for about a third of our police log. I don’t know that they actively encourage people to brawl with each other, but they certainly must have been over-serving them and pocketing the profits from running their den of iniquity.
Today’s Pearls Before Swine (AMS) explains things quite well: Newspapers are held responsible for what they choose to print, and, yes, they can be sued for libel based on a letter to the editor that wasn’t properly vetted.
By contrast, Congress has recognized that social media companies are not able to check out everything that appears on their sites, since they neither assign nor edit commentary nor even see it before it appears.
When they do see it, Facebook is particularly clumsy and incompetent, putting people in Facebook jail for sarcasm their censorbots mistake for harsh opinions or for political statements that are within fair commentary, and then not responding to user attempts to appeal their seemingly random decisions .
Meanwhile, if you use a naughty word on Twitter, a screen pops up asking you if you really meant that or if they misunderstood, and giving you a chance to edit your comment. I don’t know what happens if you respond that, yes, you really meant it, because most of the time you really could have been more temperate.
Or at least I could, and, as said, I curate my account to be surrounded by others who are also reasonably temperate.
The irony at the moment is that Dear Leader has often expressed a wish to change libel laws so he could sue his critics in the press, while rightwingers are rejoicing that Musk promises to loosen restrictions and allow untrammeled free speech.
Which brings us to
Juxtaposition of the Day #2
I’m not shifting from my contention that, if your Twitter feed is an open sewer, it’s your own damn fault, but, looking beyond personal experience to societal impact, Musk’s intention to open up “free speech” does not bode well for the body politic, either here in the US, in Dr. Jack and Curtis’s South Africa or anywhere on the globe.
Another source of toxic misinformation will simply feed the lunacy.
Twitter’s current policy of banning unrepentant liars is a worthwhile effort, and I’d be more concerned if I didn’t suspect that Musk is going to find that lack of moderation will sink his new toy deeper than the Moskva, as people become disgusted and move on.
But he won’t take control for a few months, and that gives him time to think and get serious.
Trump has said he’s not coming back, but that’s likely out of loyalty to his latest business failureand, while other rightwing sites like Gab and Gettr aren’t the laughable debacles of Truth Socialthey haven’t exactly set the Internet on fire.
Musk is an egotistical narcissist, but he’s not an idiot.
Finally, here’s why I’m not bailing: Guy Venables illustrates Putin’s frustration and destruction, and it’s a funny cartoon, but I understand it because I follow groups like Oryx on Twitter for an inside, reliable look beyond the two-sided hype about the war, and people like Gen. Mark Hertling for Brilliant, even encouraging, insights on how things are going and likely to turn out.
And you’re not exhausted yet, here’s a Reliable Sources on Musk’s takeover, a tip sheet I follow on Twitter.
Here — Scratch the earworm I planted at the start: