Monday, January 9, 2017

Lindy West Resigns From Twitter

In my pantheon of online annoybots, Lindy West is fairly far down the list. Unlike, say, Anita Sarkeesian, she hadn't proposed a centralized censorship regime for the Internet. However, she has endorsed the unprovable standard of "affirmative consent" in rape cases, has a history as a victimhood miner, and I suspect a bunch of other fairly middle-of-the-road (for modern feminists) policy nostrums. For a number of reasons, West has largely flown beneath my radar. So when I found a Vox piece on her voluntary exit from Twitter, I was not terribly surprised, given what I had read of hers. What interested me about that Vox piece was this passage (emboldening mine):
Rather, her breaking point — what made her feel she could no longer participate in the platform’s “profoundly broken culture” — was that Twitter has failed to acknowledge and deal with the alt-right’s use of the social network to spread its racist ideology, leading to severe, real-world repercussions:
The white supremacist, anti-feminist, isolationist, transphobic “alt-right” movement has been beta-testing its propaganda and intimidation machine on marginalised Twitter communities for years now — how much hate speech will bystanders ignore? When will Twitter intervene and start protecting its users? — and discovered, to its leering delight, that the limit did not exist. No one cared. Twitter abuse was a grand-scale normalisation project, disseminating libel and disinformation, muddying long-held cultural givens such as “racism is bad” and “sexual assault is bad” and “lying is bad” and “authoritarianism is bad,” and ultimately greasing the wheels for Donald Trump’s ascendance to the US presidency. Twitter executives did nothing.
Which is to say, she very expressly wished Twitter would have shut up those mean people over there with the temerity to disagree with her, in public, even.  This is not a surprise, and in fact there was at least one significant "tell" previous that she very much wanted her own echo chamber: her response to the Washington Post investigations showing the Rolling Stone story about a gang rape at U. Virginia was a hoax:
Or, you could just take her word for it:
Whenever I advocate for the safety of marginalized groups on the Internet, some genius always pipes up to say, “Oh, so you just want to live in your echo chamber?” And YES. OF COURSE I JUST WANT MY ECHO CHAMBER, DINGUS. If by “echo chamber” you mean “a space online where I can communicate in good faith with informed people who don’t derail every conversation with false equivalencies and rape threats,” then yes, I’m dying for a fucking echo chamber.

In fact, maybe that’s what we’ll call it: Echo Chamber, the first feminist social network.
Given that presumptive bestie (or at least sister-in-arms) Marcotte is on Twitter's Orwellian "Trust & Safety Council", her kvetching here takes an interesting color. The subtext is a bitter complaint that, if they can make Milo Yiannopoulos go away, why can't they get rid of all these other people she doesn't like, too? In that, it amounts to a positive sign for the beleaguered Twitter, which continues to struggle to find profitability. Chasing those eyeballs out en masse makes no sense. Bon voyage, Lindy, and don't let the door hit you on the way out.

No comments:

Post a Comment