Whither Twitter?

To tweet or not to tweet, that is the question.

Certainly everyone has heard of the recent private acquisition of Twitter. Many people say they will leave the platform and some have moved to the federated Mastodon system. I have been on Mastodon since 2016 and it’s nice to see a bit more action there — https://mastodon.social/@harold

I joined Twitter on New Year’s Eve 2007. After a year I realized I was writing a lot but it seemed to just go into the void. In 2009, I started my Friday’s Finds as a way curate some of what I found useful on Twitter and other social media sites. Even if I left Twitter today, I would still have over 400 posts of curated content here.

For now I am staying on Twitter and will continue to block the Chief Twit and mute many names and terms. I also view the ‘Latest’ stream and not the algorithmically-driven ‘Home’ stream — more on algorithmic amplification. If Twitter moves to an algorithm-only feed, as the Chief Twit has mentioned for non-paying users, then I will likely leave. I cannot see paying a billionaire for the privilege of being on his platform.

Mastodon is not a Twitter alternative. It is a different type of social media platform. It is open source, spread amongst many servers across the globe. I look forward to using it more but it won’t be like Twitter during Arab Spring and may not provide the high quality information I get from open knowledge networks like my pandemic list.

Mastodon, which proudly proclaims it is “not for sale” and has around 4.5 million user accounts, is pretty similar to Twitter, once users get past the complicated sign-up process. The main difference is that it’s not one cohesive platform, but actually a collection of different, independently-run and self-funded servers. Users on different servers can still communicate with each other, but anybody can set up their own server, and set their own rules for discussion. Mastodon is a crowdfunded nonprofit, which funds the full-time work of [Eugen] Rochko—its sole employee—and several popular servers.

The platform doesn’t have the power to force server owners to do anything—even comply with basic content moderation standards. That sounds like a recipe for an online haven for far-right trolls. But in practice, many of Mastodon’s servers have stricter rules than Twitter, Rochko says. When hate-speech servers do appear, other servers can band together to block them, essentially ostracizing them from the majority of the platform. “I guess you could call it the democratic process,” Rochko says.—Time 2022-10-31

More important than any single platform is our collective ability to seek diversity, think critically, and learn socially. For now I am staying on Twitter and watching the show, muting and blocking with abandon.

“People keep demanding that I leave Twitter. Are you kidding? The richest man in the world is busy learning a $44 BILLION lesson. This is going to be taught in business courses for the next hundred years. And I have a ringside seat. Now, why would I want to miss that?”
network era fluency — individuals, communities, and networks

One Response to “Whither Twitter?”

  1. Helen Blunden

    It’s so interesting to watch. As someone who deleted the entire lot of social media, it’s been amusing to watch what people are doing and writing about where they’re going next. ChiefTwit is making me eye roll all the time. Certainly is a $44billion lesson – a public lesson – and I continue to chuckle and then go back to my unpinged life.


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