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    • A few weeks ago, I went back through the introductions to the beginning of August and quickly noticed a huge percentage were individuals from the LGBT community explicitly stating they left Twitter/were looking for a safer home.

      Is this where it's appropriate to actively question what they think of as "safer?"

      Typically, the problem I have is that "safer" really means "without the chance to be challenged or treated like a human being who can be wrong." Needless to say, that's not a position I'm particularly comfortable with countenancing.

      I would point out that "all engagement is good for business," and it's not the support of that axiom that is causing Twitter's problems but the opposite which they have adopted in a very public way, "only one type of engagement is good for business." They have become a very paternalistic architecture, not empowering their users to be able to control and curate their own experience in a broad way but taking control and deciding what content they think "is a problem." Adding to the problem is that they are a highly polarized monoculture internally and like all monocultures they can't imagine the existence of other cultures outside of themselves. So anything they wouldn't think of is taboo and must be eradicated.

      How they manage abuse complaints is an entirely different issue. Part of the problem with how they do so grows out of the sheer size of the population and how much "abuse complaint" has been turned into a weapon against a certain set of reasonable but divergent-from-the-monoculture ideological statements. Again, because Twitter has taken a more paternalistic approach to content on the platform, they have created the expectation that they will be able to solve all problems – and it's simply impossible in a very literal way. Humans come up with far too many ways to screw with one another.

      They've taken the role of the parent driving to the mall and so ended up with a backseat full of kids who just won't stop acting up. Real parents eventually get exasperated and say, "okay, you guys work it out among yourselves but until you do we are not going to the mall," and the kids have to learn to at least coexist with their differences and pretend to get along to get what they want. Since Twitter has no intention of stopping the car and since some of the kids have discovered that they can actually get out and walk wherever they want to go, the results are inevitable.

      Of course, when the kids bring their inadequate coping skills and immature outlook to someone else's car, there can be real problems.

      Humans. What you gonna do?

      It's also worth considering what has happened to Gab since they got the platform and found another domain registrar. It's still a hotbed of trendy edgelord white nationalist bullshit, which is fine, but there is a much stronger dynamic from a portion of the population pushing back and trying to establish a space which is radical conservative friendly without being actively offensive. It's a noble effort, though a combination of being familiar with Goonswarm, 4chan, and having read Saul Alinsky tell me it's probably a doomed effort. An operation that your people enjoy can be dragged out a lot longer than one which is no longer fun.

      The real secret to making a social media platform work is not to become a publisher responsible for all of the content on the platform. Once you do so, it's in your best interest to keep the platform from growing and being more widely popular because it becomes much less possible to police that content, and that kind of oppositional pressure can tear something apart. No, it's far more effective to give the users the ability to control the environment they experience, to allow them to self segregate via some form of locality (insulated communities, sub-Reddits, and Pages can all serve similar purposes), give them the tools to filter through the content that exists on the platform to find what they're interested in, and trust them to use those tools.

      Simultaneously, you have to recognize that all systems can be gamed and a certain percentage of all populations are assholes. Problems are going to exist. Problems are a sign that things are working, in a real sense. You need to develop a policy which takes into account the fact that a certain percentage of all populations are assholes – and not just those who disagree with your personal philosophies. Everyone that agrees with you is not an angel nor is everyone who disagrees with you inspired by the devil.

      If we could get just these things through the heads of people who run social media platforms, we would get better social media platforms. If we could get them through the heads of people who use social media platforms, we would get better social media platforms.

      Simultaneously with all of the above, I am very aware that we are still living in the Eternal September. That's responsible for a vast amount of my ongoing ennui.

    • Is this where it's appropriate to actively question what they think of as "safer?"

      Typically, the problem I have is that "safer" really means "without the chance to be challenged or treated like a human being who can be wrong." Needless to say, that's not a position I'm particularly comfortable with countenancing.

      I have to pipe up here because the brilliance of your white male privilege is blinding me.

      On @Chris’ other forum (advrider), the misogyny sometimes gets so bad that he finally agreed to establish a female riders only secured area because so many women riders (me included) had abandoned the forum due to the hate directed at them. It wasn’t just that women’s opinions were challenged — there are actually a bunch of men who refuse to even be civil, and often work themselves up into a frenzy that starts to feel very threatening.

      I suggest you do a little more research on online hate—there is a dimension of personal safety and personal threat that is very real. It goes way beyond having a difference of opinion. The research shows that LGBTQ individuals are specifically targeted by online haters - sometimes relentlessly.

      I wish that online safety was just a matter of coming to an agreement about being respectful and humble. It’s not.

      If you want to learn more, I recommend you check out this book for starters:
      Haters: Harassment, Abuse, and Violence Online by Bailey Poland

      Having said all this, I also have to say I appreciate your very thoughtful comments, your perspective, and your opinions. They make me think. 👍🏻

    • I have to pipe up here because the brilliance of your white male privilege is blinding me.

      I am a severely physically disabled male. Your kind has been killing my kind for tens of thousands, potentially millions, of years. In the identity politics lottery, I hold a significant trump card.

      Which is one of the major reasons that I absolutely scoff at every level at accusations of privilege from anyone and to anyone. "Privilege" just means "I disagree with you and I'm looking for an excuse to belittle you and diminish your opinion."

      I admit, it's a fine tool – but the usage reflects on the user.

       It wasn’t just that women’s opinions were challenged — there are actually a bunch of men who refuse to even be civil, and often work themselves up into a frenzy that starts to feel very threatening.

      There are assholes in every population. It is a very specific, very true statement about all people everywhere. It's also true that certain communities make of themselves easily roused targets which attract the prey-seeking instincts of assholes. That doesn't mean that they aren't assholes but it also doesn't mean that the members of that community aren't deliberately courting that level of incivility in order to have the gratification of victimization and signification that they are an in-group forged by being seen by others as an out-group.

      I'm not saying that's the case in this particular situation, but if I were laying money, that's the way I'd bet.

      I suggest you do a little more research on online hate—there is a dimension of personal safety and personal threat that is very real.

      And I'd suggest you actually know who I am before you suggest that I need to do a little more research into online hate. Researching and understanding online social dynamics online has been part of what I do since before there was a web. I think it's cute you think I don't understand what you're talking about rather than simply disagree with your position, but that's not an argument.

      Anecdotes show that LGBTQ individuals sometimes go out of their way in online fora to attract attention, engage in aggressive behaviors, attract negative attention, and then claim it's because of their sexual orientation and not because they're acting like assholes because it's an essentially safe venue to be provocative in. Just as anecdotes indicate that there are assholes who, because of the same essential safety, feel secure in making aggressive responses to people who publicly identify as members of alternate lifestyles.

      It's probably unkind to refer to collections of anecdotes as "research" just as it is unwise to refer to collections of anecdotes as "data," but that is what is passing as good work in the social sciences these days.

      And even if we assumed, out of the goodness of our hearts, that what is described is an accurate reflection of what occurs – that has absolutely no bearing on how social media architectures can and should be hardened to allow individuals, no matter who they are or what they want, to control their own experience.

      You would have that we create a new class of privilege and assign people to it whereas I believe, because of the nature of systems and humanity, that we should simply privilege everyone within the purview of the system equally. Groups don't need protection because they can protect themselves. If we implement solutions which are less than that ideal, then the burden of that falls on us. But simultaneously, we have to design with the knowledge that any privilege we create for everyone will be used effectively by exactly the people who disagree with us most.

      This often comes down to a simple philosophical disagreement: the idea that safety descends from on high granted by authority versus the idea that safety ascends from below through the choices of individuals. The latter is far more able to be made parallel, requires far less infrastructure to implement, and is inherently fairer than the first assumption – but it is less immediately gratifying to be responsible for yourself than it is to be validated from above.

      Having said all this, I also have to say I appreciate your very thoughtful comments, your perspective, and your opinions. They make me think. 👍🏻

      For myself, I'm not big on civility. I think it's overrated. Often it's used as an excuse to avoid confrontation on issues which others believe should be important but which aren't. I'm far more interested in fact and truth than how people feel about fact and truth.

      So from that perspective, the highest praise I can receive is that someone has been made to think. Since it's an event that happens all too rarely from the perspective of a cynic, it's nice to hear reports that it's going on.

    • Lots and lots to think about here. Let’s start at the beginning.

      Which is one of the major reasons that I absolutely scoff at every level at accusations of privilege from anyone and to anyone. "Privilege" just means "I disagree with you and I'm looking for an excuse to belittle you and diminish your opinion."

      What do you mean here? Surely you have personally experienced discrimination and a sense of invisibility based on others’ privilege? They are not physically handicapped, so they have no awareness, compassion, or empathy for the challenges you yourself face. That is their “privilege.” The fact that one points that out does not mean one is “looking for an excuse to belittle or diminish their opinion” it simply means one is calling into question the arrogance of their ignorance. Or do you see this differently?

    • Or do you see this differently?

      I see it very differently.

      For instance, I don't start with the assumption that others have an obligation to perceive me in any way. No more obligation than I have to perceive them in any way. Why should they? For the most part, most people don't know me. It would be foolish for me to expect them to treat me as anything other than another object in their perceptual field.

      In fact, if I had an objection to any form of discrimination, it's the opposite of invisibility. Invisibility is useful. People leave you alone. It's when people go out of their way to recognize you without you having earned that recognition that it begins to be irritating.

      If I never hear the phrase, "you're so brave!" again in my life, it'll be too soon. Or "you're such an inspiration!"

      But that's not because people are discriminatory. They are engaging in a way that they feel is appropriate for their emotional response. They are uncomfortable because I am significantly different and have different needs than their personal experience. It's only "discriminatory" in the sense that people can discriminate one thing from another – and that's not bad. It's a good thing. It's something we should encourage.

      The problem is not that they have no awareness, compassion, or empathy for my challenges – it's that they have too much awareness, inappropriate compassion, and a false sense of empathy for my challenges. It's not that they feel privileged or are privileged, it's that they want to make up for their perception of my lack of privilege.

      When there is a problem, it's not because they want to reinforce any advantage they have over me. It's that they want to empower me in times and spaces that I just want to be treated as poorly as they would treat anyone else.

      In fact, I am not alone in that. It's not an unusual mental state for the physically disabled to possess. It's not something we talk about because it's uncomfortable for everyone involved most of the time.

      A number of the most vocal advocates for the disabled relish the victim status of people with disabilities – and that's true of people who have disabilities and those without. Unfortunately, over the last couple of decades it's become far more acceptable to embrace victimhood in a lot of public cases then it is to stand firm, as it were in some cases, and refuse it.

      I've consulted with multiple disability services groups for various fandoms conventions over the last – far too long, and one of the hardest things that I have to communicate to those who aren't disabled is that the problem, from both a legal and social position, is almost never that people don't want to provide accommodation for people with disabilities. The problem is that they want to over-accommodate people with disabilities.

      It's amazing the look on people's faces that you get when you stand in front of them, wave your tentacles around, and tell them to their faces, "your obligation is not to give things to me and people like me, your obligation is to give us the opportunity to fail just like anybody else."

      In particular when it comes to conventions, when I have to talk about what the provisions of the Americans With Disabilities Act actually requires, I like to bring up Crying Jenny. If you've been to a convention, you know Crying Jenny. She's the girl sitting in one of the main hallways on Saturday night crying her eyes out because her boyfriend ran off with the chick dressed like Poison Ivy, her friends ditched her, and she's had one and a half too many drinks that night.

      Accessibility just means that everyone attending the convention has the same opportunity to be miserable as Crying Jenny. She has the ability to go to anything going on at the convention that she wants to, she has the ability to go anywhere she wants to, she has the ability to talk to anybody that she wants to – she just doesn't want to. She doesn't get to go in first because she's crying, she doesn't get advantages because she's crying, and it's not the responsibility of the convention to keep her from crying, and it's exactly the same with people with disabilities.

      If we behave differently than that standard, if we expect something different than that standard, then we are wrong. It's very simple, it's very straightforward, and it's very true.

      When people don't do that it's not because they are privileged. It may be because they haven't stopped to think about what they're doing. It may be because they are ignorant about some part of the experience. It may be that they've been poorly educated about how to deal with people who have certain kinds of needs. But in no way, or at least vanishingly rarely, is it because they have some magical kind of privilege and it is self-destructive both socially and personally to suggest that it is.

      In fact, most of the time when I see someone expressing some kind of privilege, it is the disabled who have been told by so many people that because the universe took a big shit on them that they deserve special treatment. It's not all of us, it's not even most of us, but it's a significant number – and they make things miserable for the rest of us.

      Nobody likes them. They're assholes.

      So when someone goes parading around suggesting that being able-bodied makes people "privileged" or that being white makes people "privileged" or that being male makes people "privileged", I have to call bullshit on that. It's not true. Or rather, it's only true in the most literal of senses and is not usefully meaningful.

      You may see it as calling into question the arrogance of their ignorance. Instead, it's assuming your own arrogance over their understanding, their knowledge, and their actions.

      When I was in college, one of my professors whom I respected to an unreasonable degree told me, "Alex, you're not good enough to be that arrogant, yet." That stuck with me. Not because it was overly critical or because he pointed out that I was behaving arrogantly; he was perfectly critical and I was absolutely being an arrogant ass. It's that arrogance demands that you be good enough to back it up. It demands that you be right.

      You're not right. It's that simple. Your understanding of the world is flawed. It's tainted by expectations which simply are not the case. It's not even coherent enough to be narcissistic.

      And that's a problem. It doesn't provide a basis for making good predictions about the world. Call me a utilitarian but if it's not useful for making productive interactions with the world as it stands, it has to be discarded.

      Others are not privileged. Some of us have disadvantages. That just means we don't meet the baseline. It is what it is. That doesn't make a special except in the most literal sense, it just makes us broken. It makes us different.

      There's an entire other lecture about the danger and destructiveness of ennobling being broken and elevating the idea that being different is inherently better, and it's one that the LGBTQ community never, ever wants to hear because the activists in that community feed on that dangerous misconception. But that's another 10,000 characters and I'm probably not feeling like doing that tonight.

    • On @Chris’ other forum (advrider), the misogyny sometimes gets so bad that he finally agreed to establish a female riders only secured area because so many women riders (me included) had abandoned the forum due to the hate directed at them.

      Yeah, in theory giving members the tools to control what they see works but I'm not aware of any forum owner who hasn't had to provide a first level of defense against spam, hate, bots, yada. Otherwise reasonable members leave and you end up being 4chan.