The Law of the Twitter Storm

December 12, 2022

Our fearless leader (Stephen E Arnold) has captured several laws of information. An article at Variety illustrates one we call the Twitter Storm, which states that information builds momentum. “‘Twitter Files’ Touted by Musk Reveal How Execs Debated Decision to Block NY Post Account Over Hunter Biden Articles.” In accordance with the Twitter Storm law, we expect the consequences of the leaked documents, the visibility the story has, and the follow-on consequences to be impactful. Information flow works like the forces which created the Grand Canyon.

Reporter Todd Spangler summarizes the 2020 kerfuffle over Twitter’s decision to block the Post’s account. See the write-up to learn or refresh those details. The commotion was recently re-fluffed by investigative reporter Matt Taibbi and by the platform’s new monarch, Elon Musk, who promptly fired the executives responsible for blocking the Post. We learn:

“The new disclosures, touted as ‘The Twitter Files,’ were posted in a lengthy Twitter thread by investigative reporter and author Matt Taibbi (and retweeted by Musk). It’s based on ‘thousands of internal documents obtained by sources at Twitter,’ according to Taibbi — shared with him, it would appear, with the blessing of Musk, the conservative tech mogul who is the world’s richest person.

Taibbi, in a note about ‘The Twitter Files’ on his Substack page, said that ‘in exchange for the opportunity to cover a unique and explosive story, I had to agree to certain conditions.’ Taibbi did not disclose what those conditions are.”

One factor at play here is a perception of left-wing bias behind the original decision. Spangler continues:

“Musk, a self-described ‘free-speech absolutist,’ has complained that in the past Twitter censored conservatives and that under his ownership Twitter would adhere to strict principles of ‘free speech’ — a stance that critics have feared will lead to an increase of misinformation and hate speech on the platform.”

Indeed, that is a big concern. But is Musk as committed to free speech as he claims? We notice Twitter is allegedly censoring content from Mastodon. As users flee the new Twitter, many are turning to that decentralized platform instead. According to TechCrunch, Mastodon’s active user base increased by more than fivefold within days of Musk’s takeover. But surely that has nothing to do with the alleged censorship, right?

Cynthia Murrell, December 12, 2022


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