They no longer try to hide their contempt for the truth

I was struck by the words of Twitter’s new CEO, Parag Agrawal, in a 2020 interview with Technology Review.

Our role is to serve a healthy public conversation and our moves are reflective of things that we believe lead to a healthier public conversation. The kinds of things that we do about this is, focus less on thinking about free speech, but thinking about how the times have changed. One of the changes today that we see is speech is easy on the internet. Most people can speak. Where our role is particularly emphasized is who can be heard.

The scarce commodity today is attention. There’s a lot of content out there. A lot of tweets out there, not all of it gets attention, some subset of it gets attention. And so increasingly our role is moving towards how we recommend content and that sort of, is, is, a struggle that we’re working through in terms of how we make sure these recommendation systems that we’re building, how we direct people’s attention is leading to a healthy public conversation that is most participatory.

The sheer insouciance, the deliberate downplaying of one of the fundamental pillars of democracy and Western society, is staggering.

  • “focus less on thinking about free speech”
  • “our role is … who can be heard.”
  • “our role is … how we recommend content”
  • “how we direct people’s attention”

In all this, I see no mention of people having the right to choose for themselves what they want to say, what they want to hear, what they want to “consume” and where they direct their attention.  No, all that has to be dictated to them, so that their tastes are subject to the direction of those who presumably know better.

(Of course, such arrogance from media companies and executives is nothing new.  To cite just one well-known example, remember William Randolph Hearst‘s instruction in 1897 to his artist, Frederic Remington, concerning the crisis in Cuba prior to the Spanish-American War?  Remington reported nothing going on, and said he wanted to return.  Hearst retorted, “Please remain.  You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.”  So much for journalistic integrity!)

I can’t think of anything worse for an educated society, but clearly I – and, I presume, most of the readers here, who presumably share my views – are in a minority.  By insisting on our right to read, and write, and sell, and consume, whatever we wish, without being subject to a Big Brother-like dictatorial direction of what’s appropriate and what isn’t, we’re clearly out of step with today’s powers that be.

That’s a frightening thought, and one that our children will have to deal with in even greater measure.

21 comments

  1. I do not see that it is clear that we are in a minority.

    Some of these people may have gotten their positions by corrupt, improper, or unfair means. So I am not persuaded that they are a random sample or a representative sample.

  2. I think we will see the social media systems separate into separate host and curator services. As in, one service or common interface hosts the data, while a different service pulls recommendations from the pile.

    That way, you can get the streamlining of curated data, while also being able to chose which curators you trust or find most valuable.

    Honesly, I’m already somewhat doing that with twitter. I’m pretty narrow about who I follow, and most of them I also keep direct links to their feed, and go to that, instead of the Twitter homepage. I suspect a more automated way of handling that would have appeal to other people.

    1. every time someone had tried something like that, the social media providers have changed their API to close it off.

  3. Leftists, doing what Leftists do. Lying. Because they know if everyone knew what they’re really doing, they’d all be hanging from streetlights.

    Apropos of lying liars lying and the inevitable desserts therefrom, I offer this tidbit: https://phantomsoapbox.blogspot.com/2021/12/worldcon-get-woke-go-broke.html

    This is the WorldCon Get Woke Go Broke Schadenfreude Edition, wherein

    A) it cost the sons of bitches over $100,000 to call Jon Del Arroz a racist, which works out to about $15 a piece for the current membership and,

    B) there are more Communist Chinese memberships this year than any other nation except the USA (and probably more than all the Sad Puppies in 2016), which means that 2023 WorldCon will be held in Chengdu China, for sure. (Where there is a slave labor facility nice and handy near the airport, as it happens.) And,

    C) nobody is saying boo because all the Good People are making it clear that they’d better shut up.

    So just to recap, they cheerfully paid over a hundred grand and changed the voting rules to keep Americans out, and they’re suppressing their own members to shut up about letting the Communist Chinese government in. Because you can be sure that nobody in China is buying a WorldCon membership without CCP permission and supervision.

    Which is exactly the same thing Twitter is doing.

    Now, as to what’s going to happen. I do believe this is going to be where we find out who is in the majority. Possibly I am unduly optimistic, and we will get another yawn and shrug. I guess we’ll see.

  4. I don’t use most social media, as my blood pressure meds can not cope with the lies, idiocy, and general insanity present there.
    I generally use direct icon shortcuts to those bloggers and websites I follow, and I do a lot of rabbit holing chasing statements and quotes back to their sources.
    I realize that I, as we are here, am unusual / odd, and that most people do not have the time, will, or intelligence to reach their own conclusions from an assemblage of disparate facts.
    It is good that we are developing our own channels of communication, having been generally excluded from the progressive channels, but at some point we will either need to convince the other side of the value of our view of Civilization, or we will have to teach it to their survivors.

  5. I think that we already are self-curating in selecting the sources for the news and entertainment media that we consume. We are well on our way from withdrawing our eyeballs and dollars from those sources we have found unworthy. Just mu .02,

  6. The only reason why I have Facebook is that it’s the only way I can keep in contact with anybody outside of my family.

    The only reason I have Twitter is to not allow me to go mad being stuck at home, writing.

    1. There’s still e-mail. And that wierd old “telephone” thing, where you can leave messages for each other in voicemailses boxes.

      My wife’s sister still sends handwritten letters. They’re in cursive, that I never learned how to read.

  7. To rephrase: “Attention, who gets to be heard, is a limited commodity. So we want to claim it and sell that!”

    Er…. F…U…?

    1. Yet the forget that attention is only paid to the trusted and interesting.

      Twitter did something to their feeds on the last couple of days, and made it way more boring. The direct links are still interesting, but my landing page is now filled with adds and “The Message” on every other link. Kind of sad really.

      1. Nah, we’re told that the selection is “trusted” and “interesting.”

        That’s just a way to say “we pick what you will want.”

        Which just happens to mean that they pick everything, that is, instead of “see what all these people produce, pick what you are interested in” the product becomes “see what we chose out of the stuff we either got for free or were paid to promote.”

        ….Wait. Could part of the switch from service to provider be that they don’t have to say if something is a promoted post?

  8. The thing is, we have moved from a society largely built by people who were living in places controlled and dominated by Elites (whether ideological, hereditary, or caste-based). They moved here because the word was, here you could live without the Overlords.
    Naturally, they were quite agressive in maintaining that independence from Elite Control.
    Now, many, if not most, of the immigrant population is currently coming from countries where Control by Elites is common. They didn’t rebel against it, they wanted access to that status. They didn’t want control by the Elites they had, they wanted to BE the Elite in Control.
    Hence, the Indians coming to America are primarily of the Merchant caste, not the Brahmins. What they want to do here is to BE the Top Elite.
    Same with the Chinese and many other nationalities. Most of them (who are coming here to settle, not to spy) have access to money, and are planning on RUNNING the country – whether or not they ever bother becoming citizens. Their money will allow them the perks of citizenry, without the icky parts like military service, jury duty, living among the proles, or paying taxes (yes, they are supposed to pay them, but they structure their Official Declared Income so that they have very little money to tax).
    The Native Americans (not Indians, just those who have been here for a while) are seriously pissed. They can see the advantages for the Elites (they pick up a lot of cash facilitating those coming in), but they’re doing worse, not better.

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