I’ve been relatively absent from the comments this week, I know. But I promise I haven’t been doing anything fun or active behind your back. Nope, still no life. Instead, I’ve been quietly doing some much-needed work for the blog while Rich has been kind enough to give me cover. Hey, be sure to comment on his posts. Let him know you’re reading!
The major problem keeping me busy was that RVS’s social media accounts desperately needed attention, after a few months of mismanagement on my part. I hadn’t done enough to grow our following and it we weren’t getting much engagement, particularly on Twitter. Very few likes, retweets, and replies and a poor follow/following ratio compared to our accounts on other platforms. A post on one platform might get five or six “likes” or upvotes when a completely identical tweet on Twitter would get nothing.
Naturally, being a paranoid right-winger, I assumed that the account was shadowbanned. I still think it was, but not purely for political reasons. That’s not to say that Twitter doesn’t treat the Right shittily.
Did anyone get hit with the #TwitterLockout a couple of weeks ago? I had some followers temporarily drop off, but almost all of them came back. The RVS account never got locked. The reason for this, I believe, is that right around that time I had stopped retweeting almost everything in favor of only posting our own content and “liking” things. Whatever Twitter was looking for, I wasn’t doing it.
My guess is that Twitter targeted certain hashtags that were being pushed by suspected Russian bots and they scooped up a lot of users who enthusiastically retweeted them. We already knew that Twitter was positioning itself for this sort of effort. There are no accidents in Big Tech.
The effort was a PR disaster for Twitter and I couldn’t help but notice afterward that they had locked the accounts of people who I knew to be real users and left all of spam and porn bots in place. Unsurprising that this lockout only significantly affected right-wing users and that this week’s YouTube purge did as well. Silicon Valley can say what it wants, but its efforts–to combat bots and hate speech or whatever else is making them heartsick on a given week–only impact one ideological side, never the other one.
David Hogg is allowed to wage targeted harassment against other users’ accounts in the name of his obvious political initiative but nobody is allowed to criticize him for doing it without the risk of demonetization or permanent suspension from the same platform, for example.
— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) February 24, 2018
She’s right too. I reported Hogg for this last week. Twitter received the report, notified me that they had received it, and did nothing about it. Twitter didn’t even bother to email and tell me it wasn’t a violation (it is and Hogg does indeed do it constantly). The tweet stands, he gets a blue checkmark, and anyone who treats him as the activist that he is risks being banned from Twitter.
The problem isn’t that Twitter has rules and tries to enforce them. It’s that the application of the rules is completely arbitrary and invariably biased in favor of the Left.
Those accounts are all active as of the time of this writing, meaning that they survived the Twitter lockout despite being identified on February 5th. Make of it what you will.
Anyway, for the five, six thousand of us on the Right who are still on Twitter and are not bots, we try to make the most out of the platform where we have to. It still brings in more readers to RVS than any other platform, unfortunately.
After I ran some experiments by sending out more frequent tweets, retweeting only on rare occasions, not linking back to the site as often, and so on. None of it had much impact. Finally, near the end of the week, I started purging all the actual bots I was not only allowing to follow me, but I was following back. There were about 500 obvious ones, or 1/4 of the total followers for the RVS Twitter account. See, I had followed back the bots as they followed as a quick and easy way to get over 2000 followers. That was the “binge”. I followed everything that could type its own screen-name and was happy to keep it if it was boosting the follower count.
Problem is that when we hit 2000, everything came to a screeching halt. We hung around in the low 2000’s for months. So I finally knew what to do: remorseless mass-blocking. I’m not kidding; as soon as I did this, I started getting engagement and followbacks from what appeared to be real people. I’ve even almost recovered the number of bot followers I lost, replaced with less-botty folks.
So if you’re on Twitter and you’re not sure why you’re not getting engagement or real followers and you think you’re being shadowbanned, I’m going to suggest that you might be getting smacked by an algorithm that is targeting your behavior and associations, not your political beliefs. Unfollow and block all bots you identify in your follower and following lists. As IRL, you’re judged by the company you keep. You might not want to lose the follower numbers, but you will gradually replace them with real people and more than make up for it.
Beware also of constantly retweeting trending hashtags, especially if you’re retweeting people who act like bots. This one’s touchy, I know, because Twitter is apparently more likely to target only right-wing trending hashtags and bots while ignoring them or even encouraging them on the Left. I’m not defending Twitter or any of the Silicon Valley social media companies at all. They’re nefarious and they’re going to keep doing their hardest to shut down right-wing outlets and opinions with greater intensity as the 2018 midterm election nears.
I’m just saying that if you want to get your message out, you might consider what I learned from my own experiments and experiences and commence a purge of your own. Block the bots and don’t be lazy by simply retweeting. If you have something to say and something you want to see trend, take an extra 30 seconds and type it out. Make Twitter work harder at shutting you up. Take the extra time and effort an be a bigger pain in Jack Dorsey’s ass.
God willing, I can now get back to the blog and start responding to some of your comments (you thought you were safe, didn’t you?).