Is Twitter Getting the Jitters?

Jesse Kelly is a contributor to The Federalist.  He has been very critical of the way social media sites have been silencing conservatives.  So, it probably wasn’t shocking when Twitter permanently shut down his account.  Apparently, something made them change their minds and reinstate him.

http://thefederalist.com/2018/11/27/without-explanation-twitter-reinstate-jesse-kelly/

The incoming freshman senator for Missouri has said he wants Twitter investigated for the way they single out conservatives for silencing without any explanation or recourse.  And a senate committee is interested in doing just that.  Could this be why Kelly was reinstated?  Too soon to tell but if other conservatives also get reinstated it’ll be a trend that bears watching.  Maybe President Trump is starting to worry Silicon Valley and that would suit me to a tee.

Can We Move the Needle?

So, the mid-terms are over.  Pelosi or some other moonbat will be obstructing the House and raving on the front page of the Times and Post for the next two years.  Soon the Democrat candidates for the 2020 race will begin foaming at the mouth.  Nothing legislative will happen for the next two years, except approval of presidential appointments in the Senate and the budget farce to produce continuing resolutions from both bodies of the Congress.  President Trump has his work cut out and will have to use all his wits and resources to clean up the Justice Department and remove as many illegal aliens from the country as he can.

What should we be doing?  It seems to me we need to make some progress on our own.  There’s all kinds of talk about building our own platforms and I agree with that idea.  But it seems there’s more talk than building going on.  Well, in the spirit of being part of the solution I’ve been putting my money where my mouth is.  I’ve been investing in advertising on various conservative sites.  I’ve used both an advertising company and also contacted directly with a couple of sites that place the ads directly.  And I will say that although the company that can put your ads on big sites like Drudge gets lots of traffic the direct advertising gets plenty of traffic too and is a good value on a per click basis.  I plan to continue investing in advertising and also attempt to broaden my content by partnering with other writers who have similar points of view to my own.  As an experiment I requested some content from one of our viewers last week and thought the results were excellent.  I think providing a broader range of content, including non-political subjects is a necessity if I intend to grow the site.  I also intend to start running contests to encourage more comments and participation.  As an example I am accumulating all these paperback books from the sf&f reviews I’ve been doing.  I could bundle some of these and make them a prize for some contest.  And similarly, for a photographic contest I can make some camera equipment a prize.

Basically I’d like to expand the site to build up a community of people mostly on the right who enjoy the experience of communing with like-minded individuals on subjects that they enjoy.  Not to be grandiose, but it can be a social media locale on a much smaller scale than a Facebook but with a lot more satisfaction in the interactions.  And I don’t minimize the probability that I’ll run into the usual problems with trolls and cyber-attacks that go along with anything on our side of the political divide.  But I think it’s important to actually make the effort to get going on it.  Talk is cheap.  Organizing is a lot of talk but it’s also time and money and I’m encouraged already that with a little bit of both I’m already seeing some results.

Thanksgiving.  Short work week and then the Thursday and Friday family gatherings.  I expect posts may be a little sparse those two days.  But most folks will be equally busy with their own doings.  As a consolation I’m off most of next week and will use up all of that turkey and pumpkin pie typing away feverishly at OCF content.

Here’s to hoping 2019 will be the year when the right starts doing its own thing and stops waiting for the government to do it for us.  Here’s hoping that the New Year will start to look like a new world.  But it will only happen if we ourselves individually make it happen in large and small ways.

Stay tuned.

What Can We Learn from the Death of Gab?

Vox and the Z-Man have posts up on the shutting down of Gab.

http://thezman.com/wordpress/?p=15418

https://voxday.blogspot.com/2018/10/they-cant-say-i-didnt-warn-them_28.html

There are a few ways of talking about this.  First off, we can discuss what is lost by a Gab shutdown.  Personally, I’ve never really completely understood Twitter or Gab.  It just seemed like everyone linking to everyone else but not actually reading the content.  What the actual value of that is escapes me.  I tried reading my linked content many times and found it a muddled mess.  Maybe that’s what happens when a million people are mixed in a blender together.  But I will confess I probably just didn’t know what I was doing.  So, all in all from a personal point of view it won’t actually affect me.  Now, maybe it has actually been useful for other folks for communication and publicity.  If anyone has found it valuable, say so in the comments.  But from my point of view it wasn’t very useful.

The next way we can look at it is what can we learn from how it was shut down.  Andrew Torba was vehement that he wanted freedom of speech to be the defining characteristic of Gab.  That sounds like a laudable ideal.  In practice, however, the content became pretty foul.  There were some pretty crazy people on the site.  Now, it’s unclear how much was just trolling by those looking to destroy Gab and which was legitimate nutbaggery.  But regardless, the result was unpleasant and chaotic.  Not being a Twitter user maybe I’m just unaware that this is par for the course in a social media arena.  If that is so then it sort of reinforces my impression that Twitter and all these social media environments are toxic places that are mostly about battling your enemies for sport.  I run a very different type of website.  It’s a microscopic place compared to Gab (never mind Twitter).  But we have to deal with the same questions of how to regulate the written interactions between real people.  I have the advantage that I can monitor the discussions on my own.  The scope is possible in a small venue.  For a place like Twitter or Gab it becomes expensive and difficult to maintain a consistent policy because of the need for multiple individuals with their individual points of view.  With respect to freedom of speech on my site, I tell people they can speak their minds but keep it reasonable.  Obviously, that isn’t a highly precise statement.  What I’m trying to say is stay within legal and cultural norms.  Different people have different perspectives on those and the only standard that I have to decide on what conforms and what doesn’t is my own judgement.  But that isn’t too different from any other venue where people interact and debate.  I’m guessing that a truly free speech site will always be a sort of giant demolition derby.  If your site is perceived as being on the right-wing it is clear that you will be punished whenever the opportunity presents itself so allowing the crazier individuals to let it all hang out will eventually lead to the situation that occurred at Gab.  So, the lesson to learn is a fully free speech site is not going to happen in the present environment.

And finally, we can look at what should be changed to avoid this waste of resources.  The first thing that comes to mind is an analysis could be done to find out exactly what are the useful functions that a Twitter, Facebook or YouTube serves and how, if at all, they could be replicated in a competing right-wing entity.  I am hardly qualified to do such an analysis but I’ll at least attempt to discuss some of the more obvious answers.  The two most important functions these sites accomplish is communication and commerce.  The sites allow people to find their audience.  To the extent that they are right-wing sites I guess that will help pre-select for the audience intended.  The second function is allowing content creators to monetize their product.  This will be tied into advertising revenue.  From what I’ve heard advertising revenues, even on established giants like YouTube and Instagram, are shrinking drastically.  What I think this all means is that a viable right-wing social media site will be a site where content providers will pay a fee to obtain visibility and the site will provide amenities like video storage space, band-width and some amount of moderation of the trolls.  Eventually, popular content producers will be able to sell advertising on their videos and other content products.  To me this seem to be the future of right-wing social media.  And it seems like a reasonable model.  Eventually the site will develop other ways to monetize its value.  Subscriptions like Netflix and Amazon eventually will be the end state.

So that’s my take on what can be learned from the Gab debacle.  Experience is the cruelest teacher but the most effective.

Social Media in the Age of the Shadow Ban

A discussion in the comments reminded me why I set up this website in the way it currently exists, namely a multi-subject blog.  Full disclosure, I’ve never had a Facebook or Twitter account.  I have a Gab account but I’ve never noticed much if any activity there, so I’ll generalize by saying that my presence on line has been mostly a matter of membership on various websites.  And this is an artifact of my generational identity.  My children are members of the cohort that interacts on Twitter, FaceBook, YouTube, Instagram, SnapChat, etc.  I never got around to all that.  So, for that reason, shadow banning isn’t something I have experienced.  But I do know what regular banning is about.  I have been on websites (specifically photography websites) that obviously took sides in the culture wars and allowed the lefties to bait the non-lefties.  And when these non-lefties responded in kind they got censored and eventually banned.  This is a demoralizing state of affairs.  Eventually I decided that if I wanted to have a place on-line where I could talk about photography or movies or books I would have to make a space of my own where conservatives could interact on a level playing field with the Left.

I was tempted to separate my political and non-political subjects onto separate web addresses but on further consideration I decided to keep them all under one roof.  I did this for a couple of reasons.  The first was, let’s call it, truth in advertising.  I wouldn’t want photography or science fiction enthusiasts to come to my site and not know up front that I sat on the right side of the fence.  Otherwise they might get comfortable but then one day discover that they had been tricked into associating with the unclean.  That would be a source of irritation for both parties.

The second reason was because I shouldn’t have to separate them.  Photographers assume that all photo websites are automatically politically leftist.  Almost all literary websites are rabidly leftist.  Trying to separate my subjects from my philosophical/political identity seems like an apology for what I believe.  And I don’t want to do that.

So, the interesting aspect of having a multi-subject website is the way it is handled by search engines.  What I’ve noticed is that Google will never link to any of my political stuff, period.  But I’ll get a substantial amount of organic search linkage for my photography content.  Interestingly, a good amount of that is from Europe and East Asia.  I’d love to know what these folks think of my political content.  The science fiction stuff is somewhere in the middle.  Because I review mostly non-leftist sf content I probably don’t get as much search activity as I could if I were more politically correct in my coverage.  But so be it.

Anyway, the whole point of this post is that I am using this site as an avenue for pursuing my interests on-line without sacrificing my right to be myself.  I also hope to attract a readership that is interested in the subjects that I provide regardless of their political persuasion.  I think that discussing photography should be possible for both left- and right-wing individuals without resorting to character assassination.  Of course, on the political topics I assume there would be much more occasion for debate and even argument but I still contend that people can argue in a rational manner or at least agree to disagree and move on.  But most importantly, my point of view isn’t one that can be stifled by the powers that be.  I’ll get my say.

Interestingly, with the recent acceleration of social media acting as the ideological gatekeeper of the internet maybe it’s time for right-wing websites to once again become meeting places for those on the right who are tired of being threatened, brow-beaten and banned from the electronic town square.  Vox Day says we must build our own institutions and infrastructure.  This is my experiment in that direction.  We’ll see how the experiment works.