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Who's really being silenced on Twitter

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"Social Media Giants are silencing millions of people," the president mentioned today on his Social M
 
August 24 · Issue #194 · View online
The Interface
“Social Media Giants are silencing millions of people,” the president mentioned today on his Social Media Giant of choice. “Can’t do this even if it means we must continue to hear Fake News like CNN, whose ratings have suffered gravely. People have to figure out what is real, and what is not, without censorship!”
It’s part of a recent campaign on President Trump’s part to depict Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms as hostile to conservative voices. Last month, he inveighed against “shadow bans.” An angrier take popped up August 18th, when he opined:
Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices. Speaking loudly and clearly for the Trump Administration, we won’t let that happen. They are closing down the opinions of many people on the RIGHT, while at the same time doing nothing to others…….
You’re a smart person, and I won’t waste any of your time explaining why this is nonsense. (I already did, and not that long ago.) But Trump’s tweet hit me at a funny time — Twitter has felt unusually silent to me lately. The tweets that usually stream rapidly down my timeline each day have slowed to a crawl, and I’ve been trying to think about why.
I tweeted about this yesterday, noting that despite following more than 50 percent as many people as I did three years ago, my feed over the past month has slowed to a crawl. I heard back from many people who feel the same way. So why does the service feel so quiet lately?
On one hand, it’s August. News cycles are seasonal, and plenty of people — to their great credit! — take time off from the internet during summer vacations. This almost certainly explains some of the decline.
You could also explain it by looking at Twitter’s very observable decline: The company shed 3 million monthly users in the past quarter, according to its most recent earnings report. And while the company has never disclosed a daily usage number, it seems likely that plenty of people who were once daily or weekly users are now checking in fewer times than they used to.
But it also seems like there’s some sort of broader malaise, even among the famously Twitter-prone journalist class. (“I’ll admit that I just stopped tweeting except to promote my own work, and even then I don’t always do that,” my friend David Turner, who writes an excellent weekly newsletter about the streaming music industry, told me via email.)
But my favorite theory involves the president himself. Since Trump’s election, no story has so dominated Twitter in the United States like the president. Each day brings a fresh outrage or crisis or legal development to consider. Each story immediately generates an entire universe of tweetstorms and takes. A platform open to every kind of story can often feel as if it is singularly devoted to one.
And so if millions of people are being silenced anywhere, it’s certainly not the MAGA trolls and the Resistance. Increasingly, it feels as if it’s everyone else. Not because they can’t respond — but because for almost two years, nearly anything they can think to tweet about feels entirely beside the point.

Democracy
Kremlin Sources Go Quiet, Leaving C.I.A. in the Dark About Putin’s Plans for Midterms
Tech Companies Are Gathering For A Secret Meeting To Prepare A 2018 Election Strategy
Facebook removes Syrian war page it believes is linked to Russian intel, Twitter keeps it online
Volunteers found Iran's propaganda effort on Reddit — but their warnings were ignored
The cure for Facebook's fake news infection? It might be these women
Infowars Said YouTube Ban Would Make It Stronger. Actually, It’s Been Crushed.
"We received instructions from Facebook not to touch the posts of the cabinet minister”
Elsewhere
Warehouse workers in Amazon program tweet positive comments about working conditions
Google AMP beat Facebook Instant Articles, but publishers start to question AMP's benefits
Launches
Facebook's Instagram testing college community feature
Facebook tests 'things in common' label to try to connect non-friends
Inky’s book recommendation app helps you find new reads
Takes
Here’s a data fellow at The Wall Street Journal arguing that the process for applying for WhatsApp research grants has been marred by technical problems:
Samarth Bansal
Thread: Does @facebook-owned @WhatsApp really care about the misinformation research awards they had announced last month? https://t.co/wxF92Wj2nd This happened with us: (1/n)
10:39 AM - 24 Aug 2018
And finally ...
This Security Guard Filmed All His Farts for Six Months and Went Viral
Talk to me
Send me tips, comments, questions, farts, weekend plans: casey@theverge.com.
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