We joke, but it’s truly nuts that we live in a world where a man can just buy a place that has been used by activists to take down dictators, journalists to quickly gather information, people of all walks to keep up with breaking events, and just run it into the ground.
— Elad Nehorai (@EladNehorai) November 10, 2022
For all its failings, one space where Twitter has excelled is empowering activism: calling out injustice, community organizing, and on-the-ground reporting from dozens of protests at once. Conservatives bitch about their fascist tweets getting deleted and “misinformation” because they can’t tell you about “the ivermectin cure,” but what actually seems to be censored and misrepresented in mainstream press is disruptions to power: protesters are painted as looters, police spray children with tear gas at nonviolent protests, journalists get black-bagged and shot despite their press badges. I watched all this happening from afar in BLM protests around the country – these three particular instances were in Bellevue, Seattle and Portland. And the “terrifying” Capital Hill Autonomous Zone or whatever they called themselves planted a community garden in a public park — oh the atrocity! 😱 I could read and see accounts from multiple people at various protests, photos and videos from multiple angles, and read accounts from journalists at protests, and real community members could dispel fear mongering and scapegoating.
If Twitter collapses, where do we go for that kind of information?
If we didn’t have Twitter, would any of us have heard about George Floyd or Breonna Taylor?
Activism has adapted to make use of online platforms and advocate to a larger audience. I haven’t been going to protests in person, so I don’t know how essential that link is.
If Twitter collapses, what happens to the women of Iran right now?
Can federated / distributed spaces allow the kind of real-time information spread that has made Twitter invaluable for activism?
Mastodon only searches hashtags within your (an?) instance from my understanding. You need to already know who to follow or be in an instance where people are sharing that kind of information.
Twitter introduces me to things I don’t even know exist
Mastodon lets me find the things I know exist
That, to me, is the difference
— malice ghoulpus (@alicegoldfuss) November 10, 2022
(☝️ I do not know this to be true first-hand but wouldn’t be surprised given the model)
And the IndieWeb already struggles with discoverability.
I don’t think TikTok can serve the same function — too easy in their algorithmic model to keep anything from spreading, and video is so much slower to produce and consume than text that you can’t follow as many separate accounts to get an understanding of what’s happening.
Facebook gave us genocide in Myanmar. They’re not going to be a help here. Instagram doesn’t seem built in a way that’s easy to follow trending topics. Their ephemeral posts (stories) aren’t easy to find or follow. I haven’t used it lately so I don’t know how Reels work.