You’ve all heard about Elon Musk blaming the Anti-Defamation League for the erosion of Twitter/X’s value over the last year. Advertising revenue is down by 60%.
This, of course, has nothing at all to do with the precipitous rise in hate speech on the platform since Musk took it over, to which he has responded by threatening legal action instead of doing something about the problem.
Musk’s typically bull-in-a-china-shop approach has been winning fans. Lately we’ve taken to ending that preceding sentence with “on the right”, but these people go far beyond the tax policies and routine crustiness of store brand conservatism. His approach has been winning fans, to be clear, in communities that support literal white supremacy.
Andrew Torba, the fully-racist founder of Gab, posted on X:
In under five years we went from having every single one of our guys banned from the big tech platforms to the richest man in the world noticing, naming, and waging total war on our largest enemy while running one of those platforms. Let that sink in. Keep the faith. We are winning.
This all further cements Musk’s purchase as being part of the backlash to gains on diversity and inclusion that took place during the pandemic. I consider them all to be the last echoes of the 20th century. I will not support them, obviously.
The thing about these communities, though, is that they make everything they touch toxic. The former Twitter was famously problematic at the time, even if it was at a level that seems quaint now. They didn’t block white supremacists because they had a good, ethical heart; they were capitalists just like everyone else who runs a big platform. They knew, though, that the racists diminish the quality of the product for everyone else, and that usage and advertising revenue would be adversely affected. Which is pretty much what Musk is finding out right now (although his personal goals don’t appear to be to create a viable business, hence his lack of motivation to change).
I’d rather spend my time and energy with platforms and people that are part of building an inclusive, equal future for everyone. I don’t know that this is a widely-shared value, although I wish it was. But I also want to spend my time on platforms that are fun to use — and I’m pretty sure that’s true of most people who use social media.
I don’t want to diminish the danger — we must always be vigilant of these toxic ideals — but I’m also confident they’ll lose. These assholes will fade into obscurity soon enough.