Blue check vs orange check is a friendly fire skirmish. Hope we can move on from this and keep battling the deep state censorship octopus. The Maryland governor headline is crazy, but the link goes to a different story.

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I'm with you fellas ...

Oh Brother Where art Thou

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I felt a chill as I read this excellent assessment of the situation. The rising authoritarian racist State is going to win and shut down what’s left of liberty in Weimar America, and Elon’s tragic act of feckless betrayal may be the inflection point:

“They did, however, inadvertently remind us of the stakes.

“The Times reported the specific method Elon chose for Substack’s suppression was the same method employed by Twitter’s previous management when targeting President Trump for “misinformation.” This is to say, sure, he can post, but his posts can’t be liked or shared, which means they die. The tone, here, seemed to imply the following: a once important tool for the ‘good and healthy’ suppression of political dissidence was now being used for Elon’s personal gain, which is bad. But that flashback to the Before Times hit hard. Wow, I thought, 2020 really was a wild time to be disagreeing with the New York Times.

“Over the course of our last presidential election, it was technically possible for Trump to tweet a claim Times reporters didn’t like, but it was often not possible for Trump’s followers to retweet or like the claim. Around the same time, only weeks before his father’s election, Twitter suppressed the Hunter Biden laptop story. A couple months after that, Trump was banned from the platform. The defacto state censorship we witnessed at that time was unlike anything we’ve seen in contemporary American history, and the censorship “seen” was not even the worst problem; as revealed in the Twitter Files, a revelation only possible on account of Elon’s unprecedented social media coup, Twitter’s policy at the time — which remains in place at every other major social media company today — was the quiet suppression of all content deemed unsavory by an invisible group of partisan tyrants. Today, the rules on Twitter, at least, are much simpler. In fact, there’s just the one: Elon Musk is king. Don’t piss him off. That’s a rule that clearly gives and takes. But it is at least honest, in its own way.

“While I don’t believe Elon ever intended the Substack ban as anything more than a brief, terrifying shot across Substack’s bow, it’s worth considering a permanent version of the decision, as I do now think a more permanent version is possible. For the record, and unambiguously: I think that really sucks. In the first place, and most inscrutably, Elon made the decision to suppress Substack links with no alternative in place (Revue, Twitter’s Substack competitor, was recently shut down). But then, more obviously, by suppressing links to the information ecosystem’s primary, if still relatively tiny alternative to the mainstream press, Twitter — despite everything Elon ostensibly fought for in securing the platform — dramatically handicapped independent writers in favor of the Death Star, and very briefly became the most censorious version of the platform that has ever existed.

“Fortunately, Death Star Twitter is still not a version of the company Elon wants, as evidenced by his quick reversal. Unfortunately, the problem here is bigger than Elon’s perspective on free speech. Twitter is unpredictable. Is it just a place to shit talk incredibly dimwitted politicians, or is it a place where people like I can build a company? Because, at the end of the day, I’m a red blooded American Male who needs both, and, in terms of the latter, I no longer feel secure on the platform.

“Now, I’m not going to sit here and pretend I’m leaving. I’m not like the other social media addicts, you see. I’m a self-aware social media addict, and my threshhold for platform insanity is high — I came of age in the first chaotic years of the Clown Wars, after all. And anyway there’s also no alternative. But, I would feel more secure if an alternative existed, and for a great fan not only of Twitter, but of Elon, that strikes me as a major problem for the platform.”

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My crazy unrealistic fantasy was that there was some sort of substack/twitter merger in the works and that Elon would start turning over day to day at twitter to the substack folks. Blue and orange check marks should be allies. Since he reversed the decision I’m planning to make a paid twitter account after I finish up some stuff I’m working on but just… he’s a brilliant guy but he’s only one guy. He’s done more than anyone could have imagined but I’m thinking actively managing SpaceX and Tesla was his limit. Twitter seems to be breaking him down. I’d be worse than him, probably, given the reasons I think he is specifically pissed at the woke crowd but I’m worried about his path to victory.

He hasn’t laid out a vision for the company with a grand master plan like he did for Tesla and SpaceX. Those globally important missions were the thing that drew the talent to him. It made the company predictable in a positive way. Maybe his vision is the one I want, which is a subscription based network that funds news and uses bird watch to fact check and promote based on reputation/trust scores, and he can’t say that because it will spook advertisers? He needs an investor day type of thing even though the company is private, where he just lays out great examples of bird watch providing context, explain how he wants to use subscriptions to fund news, etc. But man, I’m already thinking advertisers have to be spooked. Maybe he’s getting more great people than I think but from the outside it feels chaotic.

I hope I’m wrong, but I see him picking the wrong battles. He doesn’t need to remove legacy blue checks in my mind so much as he needs to make it an inferior status symbol. I’m a huge fan of a couple journalists who are dead set against paying for it for instance but I’m such a huge fan of them that I would literally pay the $7/mos or whatever for them to have it. That’s the kind of stuff I don’t see him going for that seems somewhat obvious. If you have a status symbol that means you have the love of the people, versus an artificial one that doesn’t give additional amplification benefits or anything like that, and everyone can see in one that other people care about you and that the other doesn’t have that cache which one becomes the more valuable social signal? He doesn’t need to remove the legacy blue checks. He needs to kill the spirit behind the blue checks so that nobody wants one anymore. I think the substack folks know this, too.

I know we are heading into tight economic circumstances and everyone is fighting for survival in tech, but I’m still keeping my fingers crossed this works out.

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