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Twitter in flux….

Thoughts on the many changes at Twitter.

– Twitter is a private space, a commercial entity, and is a venue and host to interactions among many others, but it is not itself a public space. See this blog post.

– Invoking the First Amendment of the United States Constitution in relation to Twitter seems wildly irrelevant: Twitter is not the Federal Government of the United States.  While Twitter is used as a kind of “public square” that does not mean that it is a public space.  As a private space, its regulation of conduct on the platform is a property right.

– The choice of advertisers to exit the Twitter platform is irrelevant to the First Amendment, no government action is constraining speech in a public sphere when advertisers make different purchase decisions about where to run their ads.

– “Free Speech” does not require that all people be exposed to all speech from all speakers.

– The sudden changes in the moderation policies are reckless and may lead to removal of the Twitter application from both Apple and Android app stores, will continue the exodus of advertisers, and may bring the platform into compliance issues with EU regulators.

– The loss of moderation will confront many Twitter users with content that violates the prior content moderation rules but is now visible, leading to more user migration to other platforms.

– The many erratic changes in content moderation at Twitter have generated uncertainty and mistrust in the platform.  So far, posting information about the location of airplanes, posting links to alternative social media sites, and criticism of the new owner can result in arbitrary account bans.  Being an erratic content host is legal but not good business, as it motivates more user migration to more stable platforms.

– The loss of so much of the technical staff at Twitter is a tragic loss of years of careful recruiting for a technical organization.  Collecting technically talented people and forging teams from them is difficult. Sledgehammer changes could not possibly be wise.

– Decorum, safety, and removal of calls for violence, disinformation, scams and spams, is the function of a venue host. Twitter is still engaging in content decisions, it has just decided to allow the publication of a wide range of content that was previously banned.

– Here are some useful podcasts and articles that comment on these changes:

The Ideology behind Elon Musk buying Twitter

The Chaos At Twitter

The weird sorrow of losing Twitter

What may happen next:

– The exodus is underway: dozens of platforms are receiving record numbers of new users.

– Many will retain their Twitter accounts for a while to watch what happens next.

– Many users will “back up” the Twitter users they follow and the people who follow you, along with all your Tweets to ensure years of investment are secured. See this tutorial to learn how NodeXL can perform this task for you.

– Many users are migrating their Twitter connections to other platforms.  See this guide to finding people you follow on Twitter who also have a Mastodon account.

– Many of the “life boat” platforms will quickly have technical and social problems.  Many will not be able to provide the level of technical and design investment to remain viable.  Many lifeboats will sink. Be careful what content you move where!

– Moving so much social capital data from one platform to many others will mean that a great deal of the data will “spill” and become newly available for collection.

– “Turning over” so much social capital has revitalized and renewed many otherwise inactive connections as people recreate their pre-existing connections from other platforms.

– The emergence of many new social media platforms will mean a loss in centralized directory services that were implicitly provided by “everyone” having a Twitter profile.

– Revenue issues at Twitter will lead to the business going bankrupt and being purchased at a fire sale price by a leading technology or media company.

– NodeXL will continue to add importers for popular platforms over time. Mastodon is a likely first next target for importer development.

– Portability of social network connections has increased in importance. Social platforms are like banks for social capital.  We should all be able to withdraw our deposited social capital more easily since each platform may not be a reliable repository.

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