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Many conservatives believe that social media companies should not be able to block users based on politics. However, they keep using the social media platforms, and even those who have been blocked often try to get unblocked and return to the platform that they criticized for blocking them. Why don't they just switch to blogging, which is less likely to be censored? RSS allows for "news feeds" similar to those of social media, minus "the algorithm" that is criticized so much.

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    I suppose they blame Google for "demoting" them etc. See e.g. theamericanconservative.com/… The next question being why not make a "conservative google" then. Aug 1, 2022 at 3:55
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    This doesn't look like a good faith question. If blogs/RSS were as attractive as Facebook/Twitter, then everyone of all politics would already be using blogs over Facebook/Twitter. Obviously. Aug 1, 2022 at 9:12
  • This question isn't very specific for conservatives. It basically boils down to why aren't politicians using more blogs? That may be a social/internet thing not very related to politics but there is a clear answer to that which shouldn't be overly opinion based. Maybe politicians even said why they aren't using more personal blogs. Aug 2, 2022 at 7:00

5 Answers 5

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This doesn't look like a good faith question, but here is an answer:

Engagement & Discoverability.

Conservatives don't just write for themselves, they want to reach actual readers. Platforms such as twitter and Facebook have massive user-bases to discover their content. And discovery and engagement features such as retweets and algorithmically curated "feeds".

Conservatives do move to other platforms, including blogs.

Politically uncensored platforms such as gab and substack have experienced massive growth as have independent blogs (example).

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    I think it's a good faith question if you assume that arguments framing censorship on private platforms as an ideological question are good faith arguments. I.e. the original arguments are along the lines of "mom, I want ice cream because I'm hungry". If you assume that is a good faith argument then it's perfectly reasonable to ask why some other food (Brussels sprouts, perhaps) isn't an acceptable substitute, since it will equally cure the stated problem. Aug 1, 2022 at 14:39
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    Yea, I think a pure Libertarian would say that companies are entitled to moderate politically as they see fit, and the market will decide whether to use them or not. Wheras a conservative/republican would say that platforms with massive reach become a de-facto public square and since free political speech is essential for our republic, we must ensure that platforms are not politically captured. I think both arguments have merit, it depends on how strong the network effect is of the big platforms, and how averse readers are to censorship versus how attracted they are to an echo chamber. Aug 2, 2022 at 1:36
  • What makes you think it isn't a good faith question?
    – Someone
    Aug 2, 2022 at 20:31
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Preaching to the Choir Echo Chamber.

First, a little disclaimer, a note on framing. I'm not sure that censorship is the right word when commercial media platforms decide what customer generated content is appropriate for their other customers. To demand neutrality from these companies interprets them as services for the public, like a phone company or an utility company. Infrastructure companies like that tend to run under a different legal framework when it comes neutrality, but also competition rules, and they tend to come under stricter government supervision. They may be organized in a commercial pattern, but they are not normal companies.

On the other hand, the thing about social media platforms is that they work best when almost everybody is on one platform. And how many platforms does one use regularly? One? Two? More? If the answer is "just a few," then there is your answer. What good is perfectly conservative, uncensored RSS or blog if all the swing voters are facebook and only those who share your opinion anyway go to the RSS or blog?

So the two sides of the analysis might suggest that facebook should be free of private censorship (kind of an oxymoron), but also that it needs to be under much stricter government supervision regarding their conduct. Or that society needs to find a better social media culture, where people learn to use different platforms to get a rounded view.

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  • Thank you! I thought about whether "censorship" is the right word, but couldn't think of anything better. What word do you recommend using that is neutral? I personally disagree with many of the social media companies' moderation decisions, but I do agree that they have a right to control what their platform is and isn't used for.
    – Someone
    Aug 1, 2022 at 5:15
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    @Someone "content curation" is the actual name for what the social media platforms do. It's neither editing, nor authoring (as some suggest). But it is selecting what independent agents can contribute without taking any responsibility for those contributions. That's what "curation" means.
    – wrod
    Aug 1, 2022 at 5:18
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    @o.m. re: your note on framing - as far as I understand, "censorship" in English only means an act of suppressing information, without specifying origin of information or the perpetrator of this act; in other words, private institutions can indeed engage in censorship, no oxymoron here. Historically though, private companies could only engage in self-censorship, which doesn't usually bear the same negative connotations as government censorship. Aug 1, 2022 at 5:48
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    Regarding censorship, in the US film censorship has historically been done by private industry bodies rather than public institutions, while for TV and radio federal agencies have been involved. But certainly it can be public or private-sector.
    – Stuart F
    Aug 1, 2022 at 8:54
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    @DanilaSmirnov, this "is offered money" assumes some sinister bribery. The right question would be if the paper thinks that cats sell, and dogs don't. The analogy breaks a little because facebook has almost unlimited space at the end of their algorithm, and a print newspaper doesn't. But if my personal political opinions don't get even a single paragraph in national news, that's probably an accurate assessment of their national importance. My statements don't make headlines, and claiming that that is censorship presumes an obligation to print them ...
    – o.m.
    Aug 1, 2022 at 18:15
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In some instances, they do, e.g. Substack, Rumble, Truth Social, and so on.

But, the real answer is discoverability. No politician, on any side of the political spectrum, writes for their echo chamber. The idea behind any politician writing any message is, "Look at what's happening, this is (good, and you should support it, because [reasons]) / (bad, and you should be angry about it, because [reasons]). I will do the thing, so (vote for me) / (support my bill) / (vote for my party) / (attend this protest) / etc!". If that's the type of content you are writing, do you want to reach hundreds of people of which 90% of whom will act on your message, or millions of people of whom perhaps 10% will act on your message? Clearly, even if you don't post to an "echo chamber" sort of environment, even if you post to a mostly-hostile environment, you're going to have more positive results with the latter than the former.

And that's basically the answer; even if only 30% of Twitter users are Conservatives or Conservative-minded independents (I have no idea of the actual number but I'm guessing it's sub-50%, far less than even that if you exclude international users who don't care about American issues), the raw numbers of users on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram as opposed to Substack/Rumble/etc means that promoting your message on those (according to them) hostile platforms is more profitable in terms of action than using yur preferred platform.

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    Thank you! When you say that you guess less than 50% of (American) Twitter users are conservative, how do you determine that? Is that assuming that most Americans are not conservative and Twitter users are an accurate sample of the American population, or that most Americans may or may not be conservative but Twitter's American user base tends to be more liberal than Americans as a whole?
    – Someone
    Aug 2, 2022 at 20:17
  • The latter. Amongst Conservatives in America, there are many who have quit the platform over various issues, not least of which being the negative PR they received when they banned Trump. Combined with the fact that (purely speculation) Conservatives used Twitter less than Liberals/Progressives a priori, I would estimate that Liberals/Progressives have a very heavy population advantage.
    – Ertai87
    Aug 2, 2022 at 20:21
  • Note also that it takes a modicum of technical expertise to use Twitter. You need to know how to use the internet (web browser or mobile browser), you have to know how to create an account, you need to know how to follow people you like (navigate the user interface), and so on. While to anyone born after 1990 this seems like basic life skills, there are many older people who don't have or want to learn these skills; note also that Conservatism trends with age, and so it's more likely for a Conservative to not be technically-inclined.
    – Ertai87
    Aug 2, 2022 at 20:27
  • Both of those reasons definitely make sense, thank you!
    – Someone
    Aug 2, 2022 at 20:30
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Over the last two or three decades — since Karl Rove and the beginnings of FOX News — the conservative movement at large has shifted to a rage/disaffection 'storm' model to motivate its base. The intent is to overwhelm opposition with emotional intensity and undercut reasoned dialog with petty and pugnacious personal attacks. This is a sea change from the previous conservative model (from WWII up through the HW Bush administration) which focused on 'Great Nation' ideals as its primary emotional motivation. They still leveraged fear and anger, mind you — think McCarthyism, Jim Crow, and the anti-gay rhetoric of the period — but it was fear and anger in service to the higher ideals of the American Experiment, not explicitly against it.

With that in mind, blogs, opinion pieces, missives, or other forms of complex written discourse simply won't do. Such writing (even in its coarsest form) is too cerebral: it can be used to inspire, it can be used to offend, but it is intrinsically mind-oriented and cannot produce the kind of guttural emotion that modern conservatives strategy relies on. For that, one needs social media of a certain type: media that provides broad, immediate, and rapid-fire dissemination of gut-reactions, inflammatory comments, crazed assertions, nasty insults, and any other unfiltered, uncensored emotional output. Blogs are good for disseminating content — thoughts, facts, ideas, concerns — but content is antithetical to this strategy. Modern conservative strategy relies on constant motion and agitation, an ever-flowing stream of poking and prodding meant to disrupt higher reasoning or discussion and keep a certain part of the political base in an ongoing emotional broil that can be targeted or retargeted at whim because it has no actual content. Why else do you think every time a conservative name-checks someone, that person receives a raft of death threats? That's not accident; that's strategy.

Conservatives want social media to be 'censorship-free' because conservative power rests on conservative voices being able to keep people in a thoughtlessly agitated mindset. It has nothing to do with free speech, except (in reference to the old LBJ story) the freedom to call someone a pig-f*cker.

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Switching to blogs does not accomplish anything long-term.

If conservatives have a successful blog going on, nothing prevents their political opponents from going for it, targeting its name registrar, web hosting or DDoS protection service. A recent example of this seems to be KiwiFarms which was taken down from CloudFlare.

Once there is a culture of going against your opponent by extracting coercion from service providers, it might be even safer staying on social media. At least it's harder to pressure Meta over absolute nothing, whereas with Twitter & hosting companies it is displayed to be possible. It's also easier to replatform onto social networks by creating throwaway accounts, than to re-host your blog or similar platform.

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  • The left forced a provider in Russia to drop it as well? There are a few sources on why it was dropped and it wasn't for having conservative views. compuserve.com/tech/story/0001/20220905/…
    – Joe W
    Sep 7, 2022 at 14:00
  • I think that Russian provider just wasn't inclined to bother with a toxic customer from outer space.
    – alamar
    Sep 7, 2022 at 14:03
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    If you are suggesting that KiwiFarms was a toxic customer that would say that it wasn't removed for being a right leaning/conservative blog.
    – Joe W
    Sep 7, 2022 at 14:41
  • The whole American political culture seems toxic at this point.
    – alamar
    Sep 7, 2022 at 15:20
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    Not disagreeing with you on that point but that doesn't mean you can call action taking because of toxic behavior censorship.
    – Joe W
    Sep 7, 2022 at 15:43

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