Neil Scott on Twitter, and our enclosed “free speech.”
Monetizing “free speech” can only work if some have more free speech than others. Elon Musk’s idea of “free speech” is anti democratic, relies on creating elites, and ensuring profit grabbing corporations have a much more prominent platform than most users.
Twitter’s ultimate destination can really only be as a game wherein we play one upmanship and regurgitate political disruption that ultimately creates huge profits. We fawn over elites. And they buy more say.
Twitter and Facebook pretty much sum up the warnings many of us gave of the enclosure of the Internet in tge 1990’s and 2000’s. The Internet, for its first twenty or so years was a place that was incredibly free… then the corporations enclosed innovation, sold use and now police the town square.
Absolutely yes criminal behaviour on the internet should be investigated and shut down, harmful behaviour should never be free… but the corporations now police what we see, what we read and who (and how) we interact with.
In its early days, Twitter was a great leveller. There were no ticks. Conversation happened across classes, and cut through media bias etc. It was not a platform synonymous with manipulation in the way Facebook and other platforms was/is/are. Musk wants to move it that way, though pretends he is making it freer. That apartheid emerald mining billionaires speak with forked tongue really should not be a surprise. Musk is Faragian in his lie about freedom. Trumpian.
Can we have freedom on the Internet?
Yes, insomuch as we have freedom in the real. There has been a lot of talk over the past 12 years about disrupters… Dominic Cummings here in the UK kind of represented that kind of political disruption that created brexit, Al “Boris” Johnson and the seeming chaos of the Tory Government’s that England has repeatedly fallen for for 12 years (imposing that chaos on Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales). Musk thinks of himself as a disruptor, political and commercial. The real book of Musk has not yet been written.. one of privilege building on privilege, exploitation, and of stealing ideas for profit. Musk, Cummings, Farage and those around Trump (many of whom will now leave that sinking ship) believe that diversion is the new publicity. PR and political advertising should now divert, shock and yes, openly lie. Its an age old Tory tactic here in this disUnited Kingdom. Silence critics by using Royal death/birth/anniversary nonsense (for example), make sure Tories seem to be centrally involved with said Royal nonsense (familially the higher echelons tend to be) and deliver rancid, impoverishing profit taking policy under the cover of gold braid, medals, horses, Brian May playing guitar on Buckingham Palace roof, and other cartoon fairy tale like pageantry.
Our “Royal correspondent” summed up Cummings disruptions during Covid lockdown as, “People are not living in a disaster movie. Death is behind doors, away from the majority of us. And we will remember them between eating, shitting and buying stuff. Every election, we will be reminded about how stoic the British people were and how our war time burst mattress of a Prime Minister didn’t kill millions. The story was how we are all being played by these gargantuan wankers.” (Prick Knobinson, June 2020)
Twitter and Facebook and other “social media” are platforms where we are played by wankers. Sold shit. Sold narratives. Sold a pretend history. True freedom is knowing this every bit as much as knowing The Sun is not a working class paper, The Daily Mail owners pretty much hate you and Sky News really is less honest than Laura Keunnesberg.
As for this place… so far, so good. But remember, in a dishonest system, we must fight for real gains… Mastodon is constantly under capitalist pressure, just like freedom in a world of enclosed land masses, and just like freedom in a corporate policed Internet. I wrote in 2009, “In a world where the capitalist class own and control the propaganda creators and disseminating outlets, it is important to understand the grammar of media. It is important to understand how to use that media. And it is important to understand that nowadays most people have the power in their everyday life gadgets to create media.” ( Neil Scott, Red Pepper, 2009).
The most important aspect of freedom really has to be a literate world… not just literate enough to read words and type them, but a literacy that goes beyond that. Critical thinking. A literacy that understands who wants you to read what you are reading. Whose interests are truly served through culture wars. Who owns the platform you are using/interacting on and where does the money ultimately flow to?
Musk has made it clear that Twitter must make money. For those of you with reasonably long memories, think back to when YouTube first started… everyone could post short videos, all were searchable and at equal odds to each other. It wasn’t the massive advertising forum it now is. If twitter survives, expect more advertising flashed in front of your eyes; more paid “influencers” finding their way on to your timeline and more extreme politics disrupting our lives. All of this is profitable.
In a world that is in mortal danger is no longer good enough to say, “Yes, but I understand those kinds of manipulations.” In this dying, indenting, impoverishing world, critical thinking skills MUST be taught, in schools, in workplaces, on the streets and on the Internet both inside the enclosure and outside. To be truly Ungagged, we really must pull down the “free speech” veil that billionaires and millionaires like Musk, Trump, JK Rowling, Farage and every corporation cover themselves in. A veil that really means they have more access to speech while shouting “cancel culture.”
A friend of mine always starts analysis with one guide. Follow the money. Who profits? If Twitter survives in the way Musk plans, many people will be lost within its profit exploiting matrix, or perhaps we already are.