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Tech companies, authoritarian governments and this Twitter nonsense

“Just quit Twitter” is not as easy for many of us, because we rely on the platform for our work and advocacy. But what are our options as Twitter goes down the drain?

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Twitter. What a trash fire it’s become. It’s not bad enough that Elon Musk bought over the platform and started firing people without a care for labour laws or the importance of their roles in the company; the guy is also openly playing to a gleeful gallery of American right-wingers. As this writer observed in their article, Twitter is now akin to a “goddamned Nazi pub”.

Over on Mastodon, where many a distressed Twitter refugee roams, I’ve seen comments along the lines of “if you’re still on Twitter, you’re as good as a collaborator”. Social networks need engagement, so if you’re still engaging on that birdsite, then you’re enabling its dive-bomb into hell.

I see their point. But a part of me resents it too. I’m Singaporean, half a world away from the United States, with no desire to be a participant in the shitshow that is US politics. And I’ve generally had a net positive experience with Twitter — it’s allowed me to reach a greater number of people to talk about human rights, politics and oppression in my country than I would have been able to connect with otherwise. It’s also been a significant part of my work as a freelance journalist, linking me to editors and peers around the world in ways that sparked interesting collaborations and snagged me paying work. It was never a perfect platform, but in an ideal world I would love to keep using Twitter in the same way I have for the best part of a decade now.

And yet. I, and many others like me who live in authoritarian environments, end up caught between our oppressive governments and this US-centric bullshit. It’s really prompted me to think even more than usual about the uneasy position I occupy online.

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