I’ve been thinking a little more on the problem of giving a platform to trolls.
On the same day that Donald “I don’t settle” Trump settled his Trump university lawsuit, he also tweeted his disapproval at the way Mike Pence was addressed by the cast of Hamilton. One of these was an enormous story with long-ranging implications, the other was someone being pissy about hurt feelings. Which of these was the main news story on lots of newspapers (including hte New York Times)? The tweet, obviously.
During the summer, Twitter took the extraordinary step of issuing a lifetime ban on “@nero” – Milo Yiannopolis – for directing hate speech. This almost instantly decimated the “gamer gate” movement on Twitter1. It was like someone opened the windows and let in some air. Twitter briefly became a slightly nicer place.
Now, imagine twitter banned Donald Trump. I don’t know why, but you could easily argue “hate speech” too. Imagine the effect that would have on the news cycle. Non-issues would be avoided. “Rich white man has hurt feelings” wouldn’t generate pages and pages of think-pieces. We could focus on issues instead of imaginary ‘scandals’. Imagine how much less toxic the world would be.
Sure, Twitter’s investors would have a goddamn heart attack and never let it happen, but still, it’s nice to imagine, isn’t it?
- It’s not entirely dead, but without anyone actually driving or directing the clown car, its effect has been dramatically reduced.