In November 2022, Elon Musk vowed he would never let Alex Jones return to the platform then known as Twitter.
Jones had previously been "permanently suspended" from Twitter for abusive behavior and harassment.
For Musk, not letting Jones back was a intensely personal decision. As he told international fugitive Kim Dotcom at the time: "My firstborn child died in my arms. I felt his last heartbeat. I have no mercy for anyone who would use the deaths of children for gain, politics or fame."
Musk, of course, lied.
And not just about his firstborn child dying in his arms.
As his first wife Justine Musk pointed out, it was actually she who held their son in her arms as he died.
Now, in an unsurprising reversal, the erratic Musk, who recently spent time in Israel with Benjamin Netanyahu, is signaling to the world that he is completely OK with people who do in fact "use the deaths of children for gain, politics or fame."
Following another of Elon's bullshit polls, Alex Jones has been restored to X.
"Platforming ghouls... is not the way"
Among those horrified by Musk's decision to reverse the ban on Alex Jones is prominent civil rights lawyer Sherrilyn Ifill, who explained in a thread on X why Jones's Musk-engineered return means she is quitting the platform once and for all, writing in part:
Alex Jones tortured these families who suffered the unimaginable (at Sandy Hook)... he has monstrously led a campaign of gaslighting and assault on the spirit of Sandy Hook families & desecrated the memory of those murdered children. He is a ghoul. His return to this site completes its utter degradation. We are in a war for the human soul.
Platforming ghouls & allowing them to dominate our discussions, our thinking, our language, our law, our education systems is not the way...
Part of the reason for X/Twitter's current "more of a cesspool than ever" status is, of course, because wave after wave of users and super-users and news brands and celebrities have quit the platform because of previous Musk outrages.
I discussed whether to stay of go with fellow Twitter "weirdo" LOLGOP last year. I ultimately resolved to quit Twitter at the end of 2022. But even though I haven't tweeted on my personal account since, I did get sucked back in as @TheDailyEdge, although mostly (I tell myself) to share these newsletter articles to anyone still interested over there.
The return of Alex Jones was the last straw for Sherrilyn Ifill
As Ifill notes in her thread, we are living through an age of in which billionaire narcissists and political psychopaths are screwing things up for everyone.
Remember that these men are not creators. What they can do well is build on the infrastructure created & developed by others - think Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party. Or Musk w/Tesla & Twitter. And they can destroy. This they do well.
At the same time, she writes:
You and I can create - must create. We must create spaces for robust and civil communication. Laws that are just and applied equally to the rich and poor, Black & white, and centers the humanity of those it governs. A politics that hears our voices, that can respond nimbly.
That's a similar message to the one shared by the team at Eleven Films when I interviewed them here a couple of weeks ago: "We believe the message is about as important as any… 'if you have a cell phone, you are a digital activist. Create and share pro-democracy content. Start today.'"
Where do we go from here?
For millions on social media—especially on X—access to real journalism is evaporating. And even "real journalism" is failing us more than ever, especially when those big media brands rely on access journalism and resort to "horse-race" coverage of the 2024 election.
What people consume as "news" is increasingly whatever current events commentary they see on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and beyond.
The visual images and videos we see are increasingly being created and/or manipulated by AI.
Destroying Twitter—or at least making it as shitty as Parler or Gab or Truth Social—was always an acceptable outcome for Elon Musk.
Just know that we created something amazing here. It was so good, they wanted/needed to destroy it. Just the fact that we could and did lets me know that we have it in us to make places where we can learn from one another, where separate communities can thrive within a larger community, where standards can be set, uncomfortable topics discussed, raw information shared, new visions of justice explored, and where tears and belly laughs, poems, legal decisions, dashcam videos, original film shorts, and a thousand memes, can be exchanged in equal measure. The ghouls have come, as they always do. But we have the power to create anywhere. Not just online, but in real life. Let’s do it.
The onus is on us to follow the trusted voices where we can—start by following Sherrilyn Ifill on Threads—and also to make and share content to counter the trolls and bots, and the firehose of conspiracy theories, manipulations and fantasies that we will be flooding our feeds.
Remember, in 2024, the misinformation, disinformation and deepfakery will not only get worse. It will get worse faster than you can even imagine.
The people out to destroy democracy will try to distract you. They will try to demoralize you. AI-generated content will drown truth and distort reality. The bots will try to make you waste time arguing instead of organizing. Don't take the bait. Don't take anything on social media at face value. Never forget what's at stake.
Stay connected to the people you trust. It's not about convincing people who can't be reached. It's about making sure the majority turns out in force to defeat that liars and the ghouls. We are in a war for the human soul.
We can't afford to lose.
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