Spoiler Alert: They aren’t.
With the release of #Twitterfiles (as it’s been branded, and marketed), much attention has gone to the free speech and pony show, but this is not what we should be focused on. Everyone with in-tact critical thinking knew these big accounts-like former President Donald J Trump had been banned, and/or purposely suppressed. The admission is no admission at all. Frankly, it’s no surprise they don’t want to talk about what Twitter did to the average user.
There’s been much ado about free speech on Twitter now that
cosplay Toni Stark Elon Musk is allegedly at the helm (and allegedly of his own motivation, because this Department of Defense contractor “loves Twitter”). Some long banned accounts have been reinstated, and with many declarations of correcting the course. To this date, esteemed doctor and likely hero Peter McCullough, one of few brave experts to come forward and not only admit that the experts didn’t agree about Covid, he backed it up and showed tangible evidence why we should all be alarmed-he remains banned. He’s not alone, most doctors, scientists and researchers who stood with him faced, and still face, the same fate. Then there’s independent outlets like The Last American Vagabond who remain blocked, despite that #TLAV’s track record for correct information during Covid should embarrass CNN and pretty much every other amplified outlet. Twitter freed The Babylon Bee, a parody site, yet left TLAV under lock. The priorities are clear.
Let’s talk about the darker side of what Twitter has done.
Let me start with a story that happened in 2016. My son came running in to the kitchen panicked. Someone in his Facebook feed was announcing his intentions of suicide. We flagged the post to Facebook, hunted down his location (it was Florida-we are in Canada) and we called the local police station. The person who took the report didn’t even want to see the posts. She didn’t care. She fluffed is off and we will never know if she took any action on that night. The boy didn’t die that night, but in fact he did die about two months later, after also posting of his plans to overdose and escape his life. That day, nobody stopped him. My son carries the guilt of feeling like he failed to help. Somewhere in Florida, another Mom’s life was shattered and a family plunged forever into the chasm that suicides leave in families. It was becoming clear then, that the power of social media on the young, fragile, and slightly undeveloped brain was becoming devastating. People in pain were trying to use it as an outlet to make a connection-ANY connection. They desperately hoped people would see it and help. These same people were also extremely vulnerable to online predators-many of which are not merely “weirdos and preds” but also state actors, intelligence operations and politically motivated groups. I witnessed this, too.
As a Twitter user whose account is suppressed for many years-and likely prior to Covid, I also assumed at one point that I was wholly uninteresting/not meant for Twitter audiences/offensive…but I still wondered if perhaps nobody could see me (countered by the “don’t be a megalomaniac” reflex that pretends to keeps one’s ego in check, and realigns the narrative). Given the types of research I do, and my history of pursuing honesty and disclosure around childhood vaccines, I still knew it was very possible that I was being muted. The average young person doesn’t know that.
There’s an account I sometimes see in my feed. It’s clear that his account is also muted, as I am the only person I ever see engage them-and they have far more followers than I do (I remain locked around the 400 count after 14 years, always losing more than I gain, even if I don’t use twitter for months). In early 2022, “he” posted an intention to end his life. I watched that tweet. No engagement whatsoever. No replies. No nothing. I had no means to contact him directly, and felt a heavy responsibility in that I might’ve been the only person to see it. A quick scan of his tweets shows pretty clearly a person in distress. I suspect no one had seen any of them. His account was like mine-tweeting into the void, where only other voiders can occasionally see it. I flagged the tweet, because it was the only tool available, but also knowing this person, already at his wits end, would be informed that the one person who actually saw it, had flagged him and he would now be locked out, and not even have the void.
That’s one account I saw, from the void. Let’s extrapolate out. Let’s imagine how many people, in the midst of a “worldwide pandemic” and seeming collapse of society as we knew it, were dependent on social media to maintain any connection at all with the world. Suppression of accounts on Twitter soared during this time and slowly, those accounts also slid into the twitter void. Twitter should not claim ignorance about the negative impacts of social media-especially on those in a fragile mental state-all platforms are keenly aware of this and use it as a tool for marketing and optimizing their services. Academics know that social media can kill. The FBI certainly knows and appears to be heavily embedded in the Twitter fabric. In particular it can drive suicides. Yet still, nobody is ready to talk about what Twitters suppression did to the little guy. By the time they go back and start clearing these blocking tools, some of those invisible tweeters will no longer be here. Some of those users weren’t cynics like myself, and they believed the algorithm when it told them nobody cared about their opinions, their pain, or their outcome. They took that as truth, and some of them, made dark decisions based on how these platforms reflected their own value, or lack thereof, back at them. We have an entire generation raised on the premise of seeking reinforcement, policing each other through rules and ostracism and most importantly, announcing it all. Putting it all out there for the purpose of receiving some token interaction in return.
There’s no need to do a great experiment here to figure out what happens when the subjects don’t receive any interaction in return. Some will just leave social media. Some will change to conform to a praise-worthy person. Some will become radicalized, and some…well, some of them will believe it all, just as they’ve been told they should, and internalize that. They will use it as validation that they aren’t worthy. That nobody cares. Imagine tweeting at your darkest hour “tonight’s the night I die” and nobody ever answers or reaches out. Really imagine that. In your heart, you think your 500 followers saw it, and the message is clear. In reality, nobody saw it. But Jack Dorsey sat in Congress and stated there was no such shadowban, so deep down, you can’t use that as an excuse for the rejection. The rejection must be real.
There is ample information available about the dangers of social media, its’ power to literally change the way one thinks, and this power works disproportionately. It’s not evenly spread. Old genX cynics like myself are more in tune with the intel state we live in. With tail-end Millenials and Zoomers-it’s entirely different. Entirely. Different.
Let’s be clear though, it’s not just young people. The rise in anxiety disorders (got one!) within my generation are shocking, and prolific. We can’t cope. We are stuck between the world that existed up to 1990, and the dystopia of now. We remember how it was, and many of us had to choose whether to embrace this weird, profane, self-obsessed new way of socializing or stay old school. with far less connections. A lot of us are in the middle-but one thing I’m sure of, I see my peers posting desperate calls for attention of any kind. They are marketing their pain like a commodity some days, and I don’t see things improving as their pain seeps onto social media. I see them declining-and those are the ones getting likes and praise for their posts. Now take away the likes. Suddenly, nothing.
They get the message.
It’s time for Twitter to come clean, for real. Show us what you did to the little guy. And for those no longer with us, let their families see what you did. They deserve that closure.
I appreciate there is a narrative that Elon is here for free speech and disclosure. So far, it’s Wizard of Oz, and we are still staring at the curtain and declaring “all better now”. Pull it back, Blue Bird. All the way back. Accountability comes from full truth, not half truth.
PS: If InQtel dollars flowed through Twitter-we wanna know about that, too. Reveal yourself, Blue Bird.