Conservatives helped build Twitter, now we are trapped by our own success.
I’m so old I remember when conservative blogs and websites used to communicate with each other on email lists and by frequent linking to each other.
When Legal Insurrection started in October 2008, that was how we let the world know we existed and what we were writing. So-called “blog whoring,” whereby smaller blogs clogged the inboxes of people at larger websites hoping for a link, was how it was done. This website would not have thrived without the appreciated links from Instapundit, Hot Air, Michelle Malkin, and dozens of other blogs.
Our Twitter page says we joined in December 2008, but I think it was another year or so before Twitter became a central communication focus for conservatives. In those “early” days I remember conservatives dominating Twitter — the common wisdom was that liberals ruled on Facebook and conservatives ruled on Twitter. That has changed over time, and liberals are just as if not more influential on Twitter.
Along the way Twitter changed how conservatives interacted. Who needed mass emails when we could send a tweet and be seen by other conservatives? That ease of interaction and ability to mobilize people had a downside. I credit/blame Twitter for the demise of most smaller conservative websites.
I went through our blogroll recently, and deleted dozens of links to defunct or barely functioning conservative blogs. It was truly shocking how many no longer exist or rarely post. Part of it certainly is dreaded Blogger Burnout. But part of it is that Twitter is the new blogosphere.
Twitter helped destroy the conservative ecosystem of small blogs by replacing it with something easier to use and more effective.
But in the process, I can’t help but feel we have become prisoners of Twitter.
Twitter is a public company but it is not a public property. I don’t have to wade through the Terms of Service to predict that Twitter reserves to itself the right to do whatever it damn well pleases.
And whatever it damn well pleases lately seems to be shutting down conservative accounts. I can’t tell if it is merely anecdotal or a pervasive, systemic problem.
But it is a perceived problem which in itself inhibits speech. Be careful what you say, or you may end up in Twitter pergatory, suspended and pushed off the debate in the public square for reasons unknown.
There is no viable alternative to Twitter at this moment. The sheer breadth of membership and ease of use is not available elsewhere. Facebook is not a substitute, with its islands of pages and likes.
That’s a problem. A big problem.
Sure, you can quit Twitter, but good luck getting your message out without it, or hearing the messages of other conservatives. Twitter is the modern phone wire system, without which individual phones are isolated and irrelevant.
The marketplace for conservative communication better find a Plan B, and fast.
Conservatives helped build Twitter into what it is. Now we are trapped, prisoners of our own success.