Twitter, and the death of communities

31 Oct

Felon Husk entered Twitter headquarters a couple of days ago, and the effect of the bullshit libertarian/fascist asshole’s presence was immediately felt. Whether any policies have officially changed or not is irrelevant; what matters is what the users perceive, and all of the users I regularly interact with noticed the change.

Some have already left, some are already planning when and how to leave, and where to go.

There is much to be said about the impact this will have on the world at large, starting with misinformation campaigns directed towards affecting the results of the midterms in the U.S., to democratic efforts in other countries where popular movements depend on twitter for rapid and effective mass communication.

I don’t care about that asshole’s motivations, though I dearly hope the move ruins him financially (I also hope that he ends up being investigated over his relationship with Putin and his stunt with Starlink over Ukraine). I care about the effect the asshole’s actions will have on people’s lives.

I’ve seen a number of people dismiss the importance of twitter, because they’ve found people they know across platforms over the years. Good for them, here’s hoping they continue to find each other across whatever comes next.

I know that many people didn’t find community before twitter, for many reasons, and those people may not find it again, and that is worth mourning.

People relying on online visibility and/or crowdfunding to survive are going to have a much harder time of it, at least for a while, and that too is worth mourning.

These are things twitter did really well; for people or causes who had an emergency, crowdfunding on twitter was possible. I’ve lost count of the number of causes, both personal and of community, for which a twitter campaign raised anywhere from a couple of thousands of dollars to over half a million dollars.

The actual fundraising happened on GFMs or ko-fi accounts, via online auctions or directly through paypal, but the call came across people’s consciousness via twitter, and the response was quick and effective. Accounts with large follower numbers could raise awareness of an auction to benefit a person or a cause, and get it done with relative ease, in a fairly short period of time.

Today, that is not possible through blogs, and from what I’ve seen, it isn’t really possible through facebook/meta/whatever the fuck, or, from what I hear, through any of the other social media apps/sites out there.

As for me, for the first time since I joined, I have locked my twitter account. I downloaded my archive, and am now looking into deleting my tweets (preferably not RTs, just my own tweets, which makes it more complicated, from what I have found out so far; I’m not looking forward to trying to do that manually).

I will continue to blog here, and I hope some of the people I’ve been interacting with on twitter for the past almost six years will find their way here. It took me a long, long time to join twitter, even after most of the people I interacted with online through blogging had already moved there primarily as their online ‘home’. I don’t know that I have it in me to try something else right now, especially something ‘new’ that’s basically a twitter clone without the user base.

So, if you see this, welcome to my online home. I hope you come back often.

* * * *

Edited to add: I had managed to forget that I created an account on mastodon at romancelandia.club (it’s a Nazi-free server, if you are interested, though not by any means the only one).

I also want to link to this excellent piece by Rayne: “Goodbye to the once and former shittycrust punk bar.”

20 Responses to “Twitter, and the death of communities”

  1. Laura Vivanco 31/10/2022 at 9:03 AM #

    I just noticed that you’ve got a big space on your sidebar where your tweets used to be displayed. I suppose they don’t show up now that the account’s locked.

    Anyway, I follow you here so I’m glad I won’t miss out on updates from you!

    • azteclady 31/10/2022 at 9:36 AM #

      ::waves:: Thank you for being here!

      (I had not noticed the glaring blank, but it does make sense it’s the lock.)

      • azteclady 31/10/2022 at 10:49 AM #

        oh, I see! It shows RTs from unlocked accounts, but not my locked tweets.

  2. Nospheratt 31/10/2022 at 10:17 AM #

    Mourning. That’s such an apt word right now. Grief, too. I’ve been through this kind of community loss and reshaping and it’s always so painful. There’s so much loss.

    Weirdly enough, yesterday I got through the Brazilian election on Twitter, scrolling the accounts of my old blogosphere friends. And I missed the old days so, so much. I’m sad, because I know those days, that community, will never exist again.

    Sorry that I don’t have anything good to say. But I’m here.

    • azteclady 31/10/2022 at 10:23 AM #

      I miss the old days so much myself; I miss the sense of community that we had.

      Thank you for being here; may we find a way to build something else, with as many refuges from the old community as we come across, here and elsewhere.

  3. Laura Vivanco 31/10/2022 at 12:46 PM #

    I’ve been thinking about this: “am now looking into deleting my tweets (preferably not RTs, just my own tweets”

    I know I’ve embedded tweets into quite a lot of Blogger blog posts (including some tweets you wrote). So, now I’m wondering what Blogger does when it can’t link to an embedded tweet because it’s been deleted.

    • azteclady 31/10/2022 at 1:34 PM #

      Welp! If you haven’t taken screenshots, it would show a broken link, I would think.

      And now I wonder how many broken links there will be over here, given that a lot of people I know and tend to link to here are also on the fence about stying/going.

      • Laura Vivanco 31/10/2022 at 4:22 PM #

        I got worried after reading that, so I took a look at the html and I think it might work out OK. From what I can see, the text of the embedded tweet is there in the html, and so although the Twitter format box etc might be lost, and the url to Twitter would stop working, and any embedded photos or quote tweets would be lost, the most important part would be retained. At least, I hope so!

      • azteclady 31/10/2022 at 4:39 PM #

        Fingers crossed!

      • Laura Vivanco 31/10/2022 at 5:53 PM #

        I decided I wasn’t just going to wait and cross my fingers! I’m too impatient and I worry too much. I ran a test instead: https://teachmetonight.blogspot.com/2022/10/testing.html

      • azteclady 31/10/2022 at 6:15 PM #

        ::goes to check::

        This is reassuring, thank you for checking! (of course now I wonder what happens if the account doesn’t exist anymore).

      • Laura Vivanco 31/10/2022 at 6:22 PM #

        Hmm.. Well, I’m not going to test it, but since the consequence of Twitter account deletion is the same for Blogger’s purposes as a simple tweet deletion (i.e. there is no tweet for it to embed), it seems likely it works the same way. And I did take a look on TeachMeTonight for tweets by you and, because your account is currently locked, Blogger is showing them in that same text-only style, so that makes me pretty sure tweets from deleted accounts would end up like that too.

      • azteclady 31/10/2022 at 6:39 PM #

        It makes sense that it would be the same for tweet deletion that for account deletion, yes.

        Thank you again for checking!

        I’m pretty sure that here I’ve done both linking and screenshots with alt-text, for a while at least (at one point during the EC v DA thing, someone deleted tweets and I was left with nothing, so I grew cautious after that), but if there are exceptions and I don’t find them before people leave for good, there’s nothing I can do.

  4. Lori 31/10/2022 at 5:39 PM #

    Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down…

    The romance community was a stronghold on Twitter and I’m going to miss that bigly. I’m not leaving yet but I know it’s a matter of time. I hate this. It’s so easy for people who don’t care to destroy what’s important for people who do care.

    • azteclady 31/10/2022 at 6:12 PM #

      ::hug::

      Exactly! Destruction (or ‘disruption’ as they love to call their fucking up what works) is always easy, usually quick, and most of the time once things are broken, fixing them is either a long term uphill battle, or just not feasible.

      Like I said, I’m not leaving quite yet myself, but I see the writing on the wall. Already two people I know who quietly deleted their account, and who went who knows where, or under which name.

  5. Jen 01/11/2022 at 7:49 AM #

    As we’ve discussed on Twitter, this news is very upsetting – for all the reasons you’ve listed. And while Twitter has changed, and I’ve changed how I use Twitter, over the past 10+ years I’ve been there, it’s always been great for getting news directly from the source and eye witnesses. I will miss feeling like I’m getting the real story. I also love the free-flow nature of the platform. I can jump on, see what’s going on, and interact with those on right then. Or if I need to chat with a specific person, I don’t have to jump through hoops to ask a quick question. And honestly, I met some really amazing people and I will miss interacting with them in a chat format. Blogs and FB just don’t have the same feel. But we will carry on. Thanks for always being a source of support and information I can trust!

    • azteclady 01/11/2022 at 7:52 AM #

      Thank you; and yes, you described some of what made twitter both appealing and easy for people to use. One could customize one’s experience, while also being able to touch base with others without leaving.

  6. FiveAcresWithaView 01/11/2022 at 1:25 PM #

    I have a twitter account, but don’t use it much. I found it handy for checking wildfire reports when I see a plume of smoke on the horizon. And, occasionally, other breaking news as well.

    Since you have blog, and an audience, perhaps you could talk about feedreeders? Feedly still works well, and hopefully has a business plan that will continue to allow it to do so. (Feedly is where I found this article.) Unlike Meta, one can find tune one’s feed to see everything a person of interest posts.

    • azteclady 01/11/2022 at 1:55 PM #

      Welcome to the blog.

      I don’t know that I have that much of an audience, to be honest.

      Regarding feedreaders…I am the next thing to a Luddite, and have never understood feedreaders (I have bookmarks and I follow blogs on both blogspot and wordpress, but most often I have to go to each blog to check for new posts).

      Perhaps someone else reading this may have useful answers for you.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Quick update | Her Hands, My Hands - 16/11/2022

    […] I had forgotten so completely about it when I wrote last week (two weeks ago? what is time?) about Twitter‘s likely fate under Felon Husk. Part of it is probably because it never felt like […]

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