Wednesday, May 31, 2023
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How to “Quiet Quietly” from Elon Musk's Twitter

For God’s sake, don’t blindly accept Elon Musk’s voting advice.

On the side of decentralization

Twitter may be much smaller than other social media sites, but it plays a huge role in public discourse effect. It’s centralized: You log in and are torpedoed into an endless, chaotic timeline where political and media elites discuss the day’s agenda. “While the future may indeed lie in a collection of more specialized, connected communities served by Mastodon, Discord, and others, Twitter will retain a huge advantage,” Chris Riley, a senior fellow at Internet Governance at Tech Policy Press, wrote last week: Centralized discovery and sharing are still very powerful services that are difficult to replicate in more distributed systems.”

It’s time to explore other social media services, though. Mastodon’s user base is growing rapidly as Twitter users flock to it. (Although it’s unclear how many people still use Twitter — I’m guessing a lot.) The project started in 2017 as a nonprofit, open source network of self-hosted servers. It mimics Twitter’s Weibo timeline, allowing likes and zooming in on posts; users can view posts on their own local, server-specific timeline and a broader “syndicated” timeline.

If all this sounds confusing, it’s because it is. In order to register, you must first choose a server, the registration process is slow and buggy. But now, Mastodon has the kind of party energy that Twitter lacked. As Justin Pot puts it in WIRED’s timely guide, Mastodon is “what if Linux were a social network…the Internet is already corporatized. It’s refreshing to use a service that hasn’t been A/B tested.” See: BlueSky Social (supported by Jack Dorsey), Cohost and Counter.

There will be other attempts to build social networks as digital town squares. Mass adoption requires at least some ease of use, plus cultural identity. But in 2022, maybe an exact replica of Twitter is not what we really want, or what society really needs. As Mastodon user Chris Bides put it, “Most people probably shouldn’t want to replace Twitter. Now is a good time to focus on what we really love about internet interactions, and go from there.”

Don’t pay for Twitter

I happen to be a subscriber to the original version of Twitter Premium Blue, which means I pay $5 a month for access to things like being able to undo or edit tweets function. Now, under Musk’s leadership, Twitter Blue has become an $8-a-month moving target, a service that offers blue check verification for a fee. Rollout has been messy (you’ll notice the repeated use of the word).

On Saturday, Twitter updated Apple’s App Store with a note that registered users can receive a blue tick “just like the celebrities, companies and politicians you already follow” .” Now, the Twitter Blue reboot has reportedly been delayed until November 9, just after the U.S. midterm elections.



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