Anomaly UK writes about some potential alternatives to the virtual news stands / watering holes that are Twitter and Facebook.
Back in 2012, I looked at the concept of peer-to-peer blogging. It is definitely time to revisit
Back then, the main threat I was concerned with was state action directed against service providers being used for copyright infringement. Since then, my political views have become more extreme, while the intolerance of the mainstream left has escalated alarmingly, and so the main threat today is censorship by service providers, based on their own politics or pressure from users and/or advertisers.
Actually publishing content has become easier, due to cheap virtualised hosting and fast residential broadband, making a few megabytes of data available is not likely to be a problem. The difficult bit is reaching an audience. The demise of Bloglines and then Google Reader has been either a cause or a symptom of the decline of RSS, and the main channels for reaching an audience today are facebook and twitter. I don’t actually use facebook, so for me twitter is the vital battleground. If you can build up a following linked to a twitter ID, you can move your content hosting around and followers will barely be aware it’s moved. Last week’s Chuck Johnson affair defines the situation we face. We require a robust alternative to twitter—not urgently but ideally within a 12–24 month timeframe.
From an economic perspective, at least, you would expect the impetus for this sort of censorship to come from nonstate actors in advance of such actions by the state itself.
The state, after all, has an institutional interest — and its administrators have a limited personal interest — in protecting tax revenues. If people begin to feel that the state has lost legitimacy and that it no longer guarantees their rights or interests, they may become uncooperative when it comes to generating revenue for that state. This is one of the reasons as to why governments like that of Greece have trouble keeping regular operations going.
If we look at the American government like a corporation, we see one with a relatively secure position over its own territory, which is losing some measure of its influence internationally.
While the American bureaucracy is, generally speaking, leftist, that doesn’t mean that it’s immune from attacks from other leftists trying to drive the country further to the left.
With the suspension of Chuck Johnson at GotNews, we see the asymmetry between the left and the right when it comes to the media. Chuck is essentially a ‘right wing journalist.’ The person whom he was trying to expose — left activist DeRay Mckesson — was able to curb some traffic to Johnson’s site by getting him banned from Twitter.
That’s Twitter’s prereogative, of whom they decide to permit or forbid to use their service in any way.
From the Times’ account of Mckesson:
One protester was DeRay Mckesson, a 29-year-old former school administrator who has spent much of the past nine months attending and catalyzing such protests, from Ferguson, Mo., last summer and fall, to New York City and Milwaukee in December, to North Charleston, S.C., in April. Mckesson, who is from Baltimore, had returned to his hometown not long after Gray’s death to join the protests. Now he stood in his usual pose — his slender back straight as a ramrod, phone held in front of angular face, camera lens pointed directly ahead.
Naturally, it’d be interesting to find out more about this, since that sounds a lot like the incitement of violent riots which have done enormous amounts of damage to both people and property throughout the US. The Times portrays him as heroic, even though it tangentially connects his ‘activism’ to the murders of two policemen in New York City.
It’s important not to count too much on ‘social media’ or the ‘internet’ as an equalizer in politics. It’s not. It’s just another political tool. Many tools which appear to be decentralized actually aren’t. In the case of Twitter, everything routs through the service that they run, and they can and do ban people for arbitrary reasons.