Journalists and Twitter

Joe Gregorio

I am 100% in favor of the destruction, de-construction, or outright implosion of all centrally controlled for-profit walled-garden[1] social media sites, and none more so than Twitter. The primary harm such sites promulgate is a positive feedback loop of extremism, fostered in the corporate chase of engagement, solely in the name of profits, while the social discord they engender, now veering sharply toward political violence, is foisted on the rest of us as an unpriced externality.

The second harm, in this case of Twitter alone, is the horde of lazy journalists that flocked to Twitter and for the last decade have outsourced their brains to a single website. Here, for example, is a quote from Kai Ryssdal on Make Me Smart:

“I’ve invested a huge amount of time curating, and taking care to maximize Twitter for my purpose, which is news gathering with a soupçon of serendipitous discovery..”

What blows my mind is the complete lack of self-awareness when journalist like Kai admit to relenquishing their editorial filter to a single corporate entity, wide open to not only corporate manipulation, but also from swarms of bots bought and paid, for the express intent of getting a story in front of them. And yet, even in the shadow of electing DJT president they didn’t learn their lesson. See, for example, this whiny piece of handwringing by Katie Notopoulos.

From the same episode here is a quote from Make Me Smart co-host Kimberly Adams:

I keep going back to the role Twitter played in the Arab Spring, and I just wonder how something like that happens and gets the attention and pickup that it did on Twitter in a Mastodon or Counter Social or any of these other decentralized networks…

I don’t know, maybe some journalists will pull their heads out of their asses, start looking around the world, doing some, you know, actual work, and go back to reporting on events instead of scanning their Twitter Explore page for what to write about next? And then maybe the rest of us non-journalists could go back to reading those reports in reputable news outlets? I’m just spit-balling here, but that seems a far better solution than having every journalist in the world spoon fed stories by a single corporate entity, or as it now stands, a single private entity owned by our own American Oligarch, Space Karen.

[1] When I first wrote this piece I left off “walled-garden”, which was a mistake. The “walled-garden” attribute is required to earn my wrath, as there are many fine companies that seem to be able to play nicely on the open web and still make a profit, such as WordPress. Even more infuriating is that both Twitter and Facebook started off as a part of the open web, for example, by providing RSS feeds for each account, and allowing crawling by search engines. Only after luring a large number of users onto their platforms did they raise the walls and cut themselves off from the rest of the web.

comments powered by Disqus