However, the labels did shed some light on how those who run the platforms thought at the time. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, the platforms seemed to be saying, but the labels only looked like a few extra fluorescent tubes installed in the ceiling.

In a nutshell, the tech platforms responded to user moderation challenges with helpless acts that hid claims of power. These companies wrote the rules for their users. They decided when they shouldn’t be enforced. The labels told us what was going on and what would not be done about it. You might as well have said “good luck”. Then came January 6th.

Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase “Twitter is not real life” in relation to any number of situations where the consensus of a group of people about the service collided with an external reality (e.g. the Biden campaign) hugs the mantra before and after Mr. Biden won the democratic primary school).

Most of the time, this point is made with a wink – get off the computer, go outside, talk to people who don’t tweet all the time if you want to know what is really going on. Of course, it’s the kind of thing you hear most on Twitter itself, where it once sounded wise, but over the years it has sometimes sounded like wishful thinking that borders on despair, especially when it comes from people – and I’ll just pretend Speaking of myself here, other reporters can speak for themselves – who owe so much to the service that it feels unethical to speak about it without disclosure. (Imagine the information label: “This reporter reads Twitter in bed on either side of the day.”)

To be fair, Twitter has changed quickly. In 2015 it was new newsworthybut mostly taken as a joke when Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush traded insults on twitter. Until 2017, President Trump was to attempt Doing border politics with tweets.

Three years later, lawmakers used the platform alongside hordes of regular users to ask Twitter’s general manager bans the president in order to keep American democracy intact, as the president himself is calling for an election he lost. There was no ignoring Twitter without ignoring Mr. Trump, and there was definitely no ignoring Mr. Trump.

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