Twitter in the Elon Musk era
One tiny little data point
[An ideal typical Twitter user ideal typically Twittering]
The Twitter needle, once pointed directly at "Fully and Painfully Woke," is now arguably broken in another way.
My account was locked this week because I called the two “reporters” from “Rebel News,” an online conspiracy-mongering organization, who followed the Pfizer CEO around bombarding him with scientifically illiterate questions/accusations about the vaccines "annoying cretins."
Elon Musk was tagged on my response (I didn't tag him, he was already there in the original to which I was responding).
Yes, it’s presumptuous of me to imagine he even saw what I wrote. He’s super-duper busy, important, etc. I’m nobody. No need to remind me of these facts! Not sure I need to presume that he read it, though, to imagine what I do imagine.
First, have a look at the policy I supposedly violated and try to rationally justify what I did as a violation of that policy. Yes, I know, it’s not very nice to call people I don’t even know a mean name online. I’m sure my grandmothers would not be pleased by such behavior. I try to be better than this most of the time, but no excuses.
Yet if you look around that platform, you’ll see lots worse in that regard. Indeed, people in the ideological camp of my two “annoying cretins” routinely call people they disagree with fools, criminals, murderers, even architects of genocide without response from Twitter government.
Maybe it's being assumed that the people I called "cretins" are stupid as a result of some congenital disease or disability, which would fit an obsolete definition of "cretin" as someone mentally deficient because of thyroid deficiency in fetal or early life, a definition I clearly didn't intend and which almost no one knows unless they look it up? Seems a stretch. I wouldn’t presume to know why the people at Rebel News believe some of the foolish things they (claim to) believe, but my first guess wouldn’t be genetics. It’d be that they know there’s a big audience for this kind of stuff and plenty of ways to get paid to bring more of the nonsense to that audience.
I appealed and Twitter confirmed the suspension, demanding I either delete the tweet or be permanently locked out of my account. Of course, no rationale for the original decision or the confirmation of that was given.
Many of you knew this already, and so did I, but it bears repeating from time to time: The idea of "free speech" in social media is a fantasy only. Whoever controls the thing will to some degree exert his ideological preferences. The power inherent in individually owning such a thing is too much for humans to resist corrupting.
The old Twitter owner was terminally Woke, as was his entire staff. Musk is on record as someone who thinks at least some of the more absurd conspiracies about COVID and COVID vaccines are worth a public hearing. He almost certainly has hired a staff there in line with his views and so that’s how discussion there will be policed. It doesn’t require much of a leap to think that staff might extend belief that conspiratorial thinking deserves protection to include the prohibition of too vigorous mocking of those who assert the conspiracies.
Is the new Twitter better than the old, then? I don’t know, really. Different, sure. It's perhaps better if one thinks the nonsensethose two guys were tossing at Bourla is somehow insightful. But that foolishness is not at all insightful if one is actually interested in facts about the virus and the vaccines.
The people who are crowing about how Twitter was "rescued" from ideology while they cheer the Twitter tidal wave of ignorance about COVID that has replaced the Woke posturing of the old regime are themselves just as ideological as the Woke Twitterati were every time they expressed delight when someone was suspended under Jack for saying “Men can’t have babies.” One side gives cover to one set of falsehoods and lies, the other gives cover to another. It's no improvement to move between these two poles, in either direction.
It’d be nice to have moderation at Twitter dedicated to the Truth, as opposed to dedication to the Just (as We Elect define it) or dedication to the Free (to say objectively false things all day, but not to call people who say false things “cretins”).
We won’t get that because the kind of people capable of enforcing such a regime are not the people who have enough money to buy the thing.
---------- Forwarded message ---------
Subject: Your Twitter account has been locked
To: Alexander Riley
Hi Alexander Riley,Your account, @AllThingsRhap has been locked for violating the Twitter Rules. Specifically for: Violating our rules against hateful conduct.You may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.
@OzraeliAvi @elonmusk Imagine these two annoying cretins with the microphones believing this video makes them look like something other than annoying cretins.
Please note that repeated violations may lead to a permanent suspension of your account. Proceed to Twitter now to fix the issue with your account.
As evidence of how factually uninformed the things they are saying were, let’s just take the very first thing they say to him: “When did you know the vaccines didn’t stop transmission?…We now know that the vaccines didn’t stop transmission, but why did you keep it secret?”
The evidence is quite clear that the COVID-19 vaccines did significantly reduce likelihood of transmission at least early in their application in the population. That was always imperfect, as indeed is the case for almost all vaccines. To imagine that any vaccine will be 100% effective in preventing transmission is to show you have not much studied this topic.
Two main causes can be attributed to the waning effectiveness of the vaccines at preventing transmission as time went on: 1) the mutation of the virus itself to forms that were better able to escape the mechanisms of the vaccines, and 2) the refusal of so many people here in the US and elsewhere in the developed world with access to vaccines to get vaccinated. Widespread vaccination is the central tool we have in public health to possible eradication or at least significant reduction of any viral agent. If widespread vaccination doesn’t happen, the virus has more time to adapt and to foil efforts to contain it. So people with the ideological beliefs of the two guys chasing Bourla around at Davos, that is, who refused to get vaccinated, bear some direct measure of responsibility in the decreasing effectiveness of the vaccines. That’s how vaccines work.
As to “keep[ing] it secret,” anyone who was paying attention knew that effectiveness at preventing transmission was decreasing already by mid-2021 as Delta became the dominant variant, and this got still worse when Omicron appeared. These facts were widely available publicly during this time. There is no evidence of any effort by Pfizer or any other significant actor in the public health sphere to keep decreasing effectiveness at stopping transmission a “secret.” See e.g., https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7034e3.htm and https://ukhsa.blog.gov.uk/2022/02/10/how-well-do-vaccines-protect-against-omicron-what-the-data-shows/
It’s like this all the way down their litany of complaints.