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Will Elon Musk get satire accounts like mine out of Twitter jail?

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As Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter begins, he must make some important decisions that will shape the future of the social media platform that millions of people use for their news-gathering. While most of the attention is focused on the orange elephant in the room — the anticipated return of @realDonaldTrump — there’s another issue that deserves Musk’s attention. Today, political satire is under threat from both content moderators and the courts, and Musk has a unique opportunity to be an advocate for this silly but essential method of demonstrating the absurdity of our political landscape.

I became involved in political satire after watching Donald Trump fire several conspiracy-theory messages to his more than 4 million followers on Truth Social on a daily basis.

I became involved in political satire after watching Donald Trump fire several conspiracy-theory messages to his more than 4 million followers on Truth Social on a daily basis. If you’re one of the Twitter-addicted news-conscious Americans who have remained largely (and blissfully) ignorant of this metastatic alt-right media echo chamber, I envy you. In my casual observations of Truth Social after his difficult launch in the spring the social media platform seems to be doing its job intended role as an “uncensored” alternative to Twitter, with predictably crazy results.

And sadly, under Twitter’s previous leadership, attempts to shine a satirical spotlight on this right-wing quackery led to my permanent suspension from the “digital town square,” as Musk calls it. his new purchase. With Musk at the helm, there may be a real chance to overhaul Twitter heavy handed approach to ban political satire of all stripes. After all, on Friday, he tweeted: “Anyone who has been suspended for minor and dubious reasons will be released from Twitter prison.”

It’s a lot like what happened to me. Last month, in what can only be described as an onslaught of insomnia-induced insanity, I created a few accounts on Twitter to poke fun at Trump’s boost to the viral pro-Trump conspiracy theory QAnon, which gained a foothold on its burgeoning platform. Since what I saw playing on Truth Social was as disconnected from reality as anything conceived in the mind of L. Frank Baum, I decided to use the mother lode of all fantasy stories – “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” – as the basis. for my satire.

For example, the Wizard of Qz (a veiled figure who gives followers cryptic – and often contradictory – prophecies) and Glinda the Great have (the disgruntled, narcissistically deposed ruler of Qz) were created. Within days everything on Twitter was running like a well-oiled tin man. I have adjusted Q’s posts, also known as drops, on seedy online forums and transformed Trump “Truths” like this one egocentric pivot away from Hurricane Ian to the Nord Stream pipeline attack in this: “Everyone is talking about the great tornado as they should be, but perhaps a more significant event was the news that the Yellow Brick Road (which I brought to Oz’s attention as ruler when I explained how cripplingly dependent could be) is SABOTAGE. This could lead to war!” — @realGlindaAmazing

Unfortunately, the plug was pulled from my @WizardofQz account about three weeks after launch. “After careful review, we’ve determined that your account has violated the Twitter Rules,” read the Twitter Support notification. “Your account has been permanently suspended.” Confused, I quickly filed a formal appeal against the suspension and sent several follow-up emails to try to clarify which rule(s) I was violating, but unfortunately I never heard from Twitter HQ. Meanwhile, on @realGlindaGreat, I found that followers had been removed and memes I made had been censored, as well as other account restrictions.

When looking over the Twitter Rules, it is clear that the emphasis is on suppressing anything that can be classified as violent extremism. I wondered if that might be the line Twitter thought it was crossing.

Yes, some Wizard of Qz posts had warned of riots, but they were in the context of the nonexistent Quadling Country (one of four countries comprising the Land of Oz; look it up). Other posts hinted at paramilitary intervention on behalf of the Lollipop Guild, but you’d assume Twitter seniors know that’s pure fantasy, too. Perhaps the Qz “drops” targeting “mass hysteria over: Jitterbug virus” fell under the umbrella of misinformation about Covid-19? I can only speculate at this point, but it’s clear that our reality has become stranger than fiction to the content moderators on Twitter.

Twitter’s clumsy approach to banning political parody accounts does a disservice to the millions of users who rely on the platform to gain context about what’s going on around them.

More than any sense of personal frustration at the untimely death of my silly little project, though, I feel like a clumsy Twitterer. approach for banning parody of political accounts does a disservice to the millions of users who rely on the platform to gain context about what’s going on around them.

To say we live in interesting times is definitely an understatement. We have midterm elections coming up in which: democracy deniers can soon be installed in the inner workings of our state and local electoral infrastructure. Talk about “civil war” is at its highest point since perhaps the factual Civil war. And the “robust conversationTruth Social advertises on its platform focuses primarily on pedophilia in Hollywood and which of America’s duly elected Democratic officials should be tried and executed first for treason.

Satire helps put the danger of what’s at stake in perspective, but playing in the background is a legal battle who could decide its constitutionality on social media. The Supreme Court may soon hear the case of Anthony Novak v. City of Parma, Ohio. Novak was arrested and briefly jailed in 2016 for creating a parody Facebook account denouncing his local police department. After his civil lawsuit alleging violation of his constitutional rights was dismissed, filed a petition with the court to take up his case.

In an amicus brief submitted this month, The Onion, a popular satirical site, supported Novak.

“One of the most powerful capacities of parody is rhetorical: it allows people to mimic the voice of a serious authority…and in doing so demonstrate the illogical or absurdity of the target,” the short said:. “Parodists can tear apart an authoritarian personality cult, point out the rhetorical tricks politicians use to mislead their voters, and even undermine the real propaganda efforts of a government agency.”

Musk needs to know that we’re not doing ourselves a favor by being cowardly lions and avoiding the imagery and language of, say, QAnon. By appropriating alt-right memes and posts, the goal of my parody project was to showcase the ridiculousness of the conspiracy group’s principles and illustrate how they spread like a virus across social media.

Since the January 6, 2021 uprising, Twitter has rightly removed tens of thousands of QAnon connected bills, citing the risk of further civil destabilization. But surely the platform can make room for accounts that shed satirical light on the lingering influence of the group and our modern political system in general?

This impersonation, as The Onion noted in its briefing, offers unique “functionality and value” not possible with traditional methods of critique — such as with a straightforward news article about the conspiracy and its impact.

In a statement ThursdayMusk said that “there is currently a great danger that social media will splinter into far-right and far-left echo chambers that generate more hatred and divide our society.”

The sad truth is that despite many failed prophecies, the QAnon conspiracy still has a vise-like grip on Truth Social’s user base. His supporters believe a “storm is coming” in which politics is turned upside down in unimaginable ways. Meanwhile, the undisputed leader of one of our two major political parties has embraced QAnon supporters to the point that it has been interpreted as his stand back and stand by for the next presidential election.

By not giving its users the opportunity to engage in satirical reflections, Twitter’s current moderation policy worsens this echo chamber. By his own admission, Musk knows the platform can’t become a “free-for-all hellscape,” so it will be difficult to strike a balance. Unfortunately for him, he can’t count on magical ruby ​​slippers for help. But political parody accounts, even bad ones like mine, need to be protected on Twitter.



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