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Big Revolution - Nursing Twitter back to health

Welcome to Wednesday's Big Revolution. Let's dive straight in... – Martin
August 8 · Issue #164 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Wednesday’s Big Revolution. Let’s dive straight in…

Big things you need to know today
  • Elon Musk is considering taking Tesla private. Given stock price shorting has been a major cause of Musk’s recent erratic Twitter behaviour, this is probably a good idea and would allow the company to work on its mission without the quarterly pressure of the market. Shareholders would need to vote on the plan.
  • Downloads of InfoWars’ apps are on the rise on iOS and Android after the conspiracy theory outlet was banned from most major social media platforms (except Twitter – see below).
The big thought
Twitter needs a community management ambulance. Credit: Zhen Hu on Unsplash
Twitter needs a community management ambulance. Credit: Zhen Hu on Unsplash
Nursing Twitter back to health
Poor Jack Dorsey just can’t catch a break. No matter how many times he explains that nazis are welcome on Twitter, a large, vocal chunk of his userbase just won’t accept it.
Of course, he’s never explicitly said nazis are welcome, but he may as well have done, given how he likes to make clear that toxic people are welcome as long as they don’t break a very specific reading of Twitter’s rules. As Charlie Warzel points out, InfoWars and Alex Jones don’t use Twitter the same way as they did places like YouTube, so maybe Dorsey has a point in this latest high-profile case.
Here’s an idea: Twitter needs to stop hiding behind rules which may or may not be fit for purpose. Community management isn’t just about setting rules, it’s about ensuring the long-term health of that community. That requires a curation-based approach. It requires you to take editorial decisions, not just refer to a rule book. Someone may not be breaking a specific rule but their behaviour can still be toxic.
Is InfoWars’ presence on Twitter a bad look for the platform? Does it merely being active there stir up bad feeling and resentment among other users? Twitter shouldn’t be scared to say ‘sorry, we don’t want your type in the club’ when it comes to some of society’s worst bad actors. That requires Twitter taking a strong position on what kind of society we want to live in, and how its platform can help us achieve that.
Now, you could argue that Twitter already ignores its rules, given how much abuse is allowed to stay on the platform. Any regular Twitter user will have seen an example of someone sharing a 'this tweet doesn’t violate our policies’ response after they reported an obvious example of rule-breaking.
But if Twitter officially embraces the mission of 'maintaining a healthy community’ and is less scared of being accused of political bias, it can focus on getting rid of antisocial behaviour without having a strict set of rules it has to refer to in any situation.
Doing this at scale isn’t easy, but I refuse to believe it’s impossible.
There’s an argument that Twitter’s basic design is poorly suited to the way it’s now used, and that it will always lead to bad behaviour, but Dorsey should at least try to prove wrong what some have ended up concluding due to his lack of meaningful action – that he secretly likes nazis.
One big read
Facebook Wanted Us to Kill This Investigative Tool Facebook Wanted Us to Kill This Investigative Tool
Should journalists have special access rights to Facebook data so they can better hold the company to account? Facebook doesn’t think so, funnily enough. This article prompted me to check my own ‘People You May Know’ recommendations, and I was disappointed that they weren’t very creepy.
One big tweet
There have been some shows along these lines but there’s definitely room to explore the idea further…
Kim-Mai Cutler
Is there a "People Who Are Mean To Each Other On The Internet Meet In Real Life For The First Time" show? Like who is the Oprah of Gen Z?
That’s all for today...
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