Today Twitter’s bot politely told me adios. The bot also informed me they were “sorry” to see me go.
Back in the day when the little blue bird icon appeared on a social media platform that limited the number of characters in your posts, the platform was sort of like the wild west of yore. It had an ‘anything goes’ policy. That meant you might be the target of praise for your post or if you touched a nerve the wrong way, you might find a photo of male genitals in your inbox. I didn’t take it too seriously, but I did participate actively.
In the early years of Twitter, I built a following consistently and the site was a major source of referrals for readers at my website.
Then came the great awakening. As Democrats and Republicans duked it out rhetorically, each party’s fans did the same on Twitter. Things got rough. And a couple years after the election of our nation’s first biracial president, algorithms changed at various technology companies. Titans of the Web decided to determine what was of value on their platforms. Dissenting speech was not among the valued items.
As time progressed, my follower count, once on a consistent growth track, began to decline. Twitter in my opinion began to favor certain political positions and disfavor others.
I persevered. Why?
Twitter has eclipsed Drudge as the top purveyor of news in our country. This is where news breaks and where political opinion is shaped for many. To succeed on Twitter, you just post something outrageous and as long as your message is to Twitter’s liking, you’re good to go and you will build followers. It’s pretty simple.
I thought long and hard about keeping my account, but then I witnessed censorship on a level I never thought I’d see in my country. Twitter and other social media certainly have the right to censor opinions and statements their policies are at odds with. This is troubling on many levels, and among my concerns is the fact our US taxpayer money funded the foundation of what we call the Internet.
When I saw the CEO, a man born to privilege, celebrate the removal of a competing platform, I knew it was time to go.
I’ve seen much on Twitter I disagree with, and my negativity was in response to posts by both sides of the aisle and some in between. I see many discussions of politics. I see few discussions about policy, and I find that troubling.
In our country we are about to experience one-party rule. We might look to other countries where there is one-party rule in order to anticipate policy and legislative changes. China, Vietnam, Cuba, and North Korea are among a number of states with one-party rule where allegiance is to political party, not country.
I’ve seen posts applauding Twitter’s censorship and I’ve seen posts criticizing the practice. My decision to leave the site has nothing to do with President Donald Trump. Censorship began long before Twitter zapped the president.
I simply won’t willingly be part of anything limiting free expression and employing a double standard on the same. Our government has done that at times, and I was forced to tolerate it. With social media, no one is forcing me, and that’s why I got that polite goodbye from Twitter’s bot this morning when I hit ‘deactivate’.
As a reminder, every social media site on the planet has one product to sell—you.
For now, I’ll stay on Facebook. I’ve changed my settings to ‘friends’ only at that website. I’ll see what happens going forward.
I’ve often said we lost a treasure when so many indie blogs went defunct once tech titans began to monopolize content on the Internet. Back in the day people talked on those indie sites, on message threads and such. We were freer and better off back in that day than we are now when it comes to free expression. I may well disagree with others about an issue, but I will always endorse enabling others to say what they believe even when it is not true or when I disagree.
I’m currently considering deleting my longtime Amazon account. I’ll keep you posted on that in future.
(Kay B. Day/January 11, 2021)