I look at Twitter occasionally. I never go to twitter.com to start, but sometimes I’ll read a news article and there will be a tweet. Because of the privacy settings, I have to go to Twitter to see said tweet. I probably do this less than once a week – maybe once or twice a month. However, I decided to stop by twitter.com and see what all the fuss was about. I started scrolling through and reading tweets and I found myself getting pissed off. Everyone is very loudly and often offensively expressing their opinions, which I often don’t agree with. These obnoxious tweets are interspersed with “interesting” posts about this or that arcane thing that I find not interesting in any way. Wow. Yuck. I vowed not to visit Twitter again any time soon.
With that said, lots of other people visit Twitter. It’s kind of alarming that the Twitter addicts have such an outsized influence on life and politics. What kind of personality traits lead someone to spend a lot of time on Twitter? And do we really want people with those personality traits (eg Musk) affecting our lives? In any case, needless to say, I fully agree with Musk that censoring major newspapers – Covid origins, laptop story, etc. – is utterly unacceptable. Let’s consider Covid “misinformation.” Who gets to decide what is misinformation? The CDC? I personally think the CDC is probably about as good as it gets in terms of government organizations in terms of health advice. With that said, it’s an arm of the government, and letting the government decide what is “misinformation” is seriously sketchy.
In Russia, media organizations that aren’t in line with Putin are suppressed and put out of business directly. Things aren’t that bad in the US. But if major newspapers, like the New York Post, cannot share their articles on Twitter because a government organization of any kind deems them “misinformation,” that is a serious problem. Here in the brave state of Washington, our governor wanted to make it a crime to claim that an election was “rigged.” Sounds great, right? That would prevent all that nonsense in 2020 when Trump’s cronies claimed the election was unfair, right? OK. But what about when the election actually *is* rigged? And anyone who points that out is thrown in jail? Luckily, the legislators in WA declined to pass the bill. For me, it’s just not possible to have a neutral arbiter that decides what’s truth and what’s misinformation. You have to let people make up their own minds. Otherwise, you’re no better than Putin.
If I were in charge, I’d only allow people to post on social media under their own names. If you compare the comments section on the Seattle Times or really any newspaper other than the NYT and the Wall Street Journal, Seattle Times and the like are filled with insults, vulgarity and poor behavior. The Wall Street Journal makes people post under their real names, and the comments section is a different animal, with relatively civil discourse. (The NYT also has polite discourse but they review all comments before posting, something which most newspapers and forums cannot afford.) I’d like to see ALL online communities require people to post under their real names. How to verify real names? A credit card would be a pretty good option, or government ID for those who lack credit cards.
Groups are a problem. I’d really like to stop “groups” from posting as a group without a name. You could still allow groups, like say a newspaper, to post, but require under the group header to be the name of an actual person affiliated with that group. So, if the New York Post, or a local road race, wants to post, fine, but there had to be an actual human putting their name out there. In other words, no anonymous posting, ever.