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Influencers are debating leaving Twitter, but where are they going?

Paris chandler Built a community for black techies twitter It eventually became the foundation of her own recruitment agency.

Now she fears that everything could fall apart if Twitter becomes a haven for racist and toxic speech. Elon Muska series of provocateurs who suggested he could relax the content rules.

Since Chandler conducts most of her business on Twitter, she sees uncertainty looming and sees no better alternative.

“Before Elon took over, I felt like the team was working to make Twitter a safer platform, but not now. I don’t know what’s going on under the hood. It’s gone,” said Chandler, 31, founder of Black Tech Pipeline, a job board and recruitment website.

Twitter is a relatively small but powerful platform that has become a kind of digital public square for influencers, policy makers, journalists and other opinion leaders.

Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, bought Twitter in a $44 billion deal last week and immediately made his unpredictable style feel.

A few days later, he tweeted a link to an article from a little-known news outlet that made shady claims that Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband was violently attacked at his California home. Although he quickly removed it, the start of his term was alarming for those concerned about the spread of misinformation online.

Musk has also signaled his willingness to loosen the guardrails against hate speech, possibly following the ex-president’s donald trump and other banned commentators return. After the deal was struck, however, he softened that idea and formed a “content moderation council” that would not allow anyone kicked off the site to return until procedures were established on how to do so. I promised.

But the use of racist slurs quickly exploded in a clear test of his tolerance level.

“Guys, it’s getting ugly here. I’m not really sure what my plans are. Stay or go?” Jennifer Taub, a law professor and author with about 250,000 followers, said Sunday. said he tweeted a link to his Facebook page in case he left Twitter.

For now, Taub will stay because it will give him the opportunity to “laugh, learn and empathize” with people from all over the world. But if it becomes a “cesspool of racism and anti-Semitism,” she said by phone, she would leave.

“The numbers are getting lower and lower,” said Taub, who has lost 5,000 followers since Musk officially took office. Too many people to block. “

The debate is particularly intense for people of color who use Twitter to network and spread their opinions while also facing toxicities on the platform.

“As a user of Twitter, a power user in many ways, Twitter is very useful and I am very concerned about where people will have this conversation next,” says Tanzina Vega, a Latina journalist in New York. said Mr. Having once received death threats on Twitter, he has built a significant community of friends and sources there.

Chandler, a software engineer, wanted to combat the loneliness she felt in her white-dominated field when she tweeted a question and a selfie four years ago. Look, I’ll go first! ” The response was overwhelming. Today, she has over 60,000 followers and her own company connects black tech workers with businesses large and small.

She also received hate messages and even death threats from people who accused her of being racist for centering a black tech worker. But she also had connections with her Twitter employees who were open to her concerns. These employees either left the company or stopped working on the platform, she said, Chandler said.

Chandler’s company also uses Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, but none can replicate the type of active community she leads on Twitter.

Instagram and TikTok are powered by images rather than text exchanges. Facebook is no longer popular with young users. LinkedIn is more formal. And while some developers are rushing to create alternative sites on the fly, developing a stable, user-friendly site that can handle millions of accounts takes time.

Joan Donovan, an internet scholar who studies the threat disinformation poses to democracy, says in a new book, Meme Wars, that it’s not clear whether Twitter will remain a safe place for civic discourse. Stated. Still, she called the networks people built invaluable to users, communities and masks.

“This is exactly why Musk bought Twitter and didn’t build his own social network,” Donovan said. “If you control territory, you can control politics, and you can control culture in many ways.”

Within hours of taking office, Musk fired several Twitter executives, including chief legal counsel Vijaya Gadde, who oversaw Twitter’s content moderation and safety efforts around the world. And he dissolved the board of directors, leaving himself solely responsible, at least on paper. On Friday, Twitter began massive layoffs.

European regulators were quick to warn Musk about his obligations under digital privacy laws to crack down on illegal speech and disinformation.In the United States, Twitter controls Twitter and its 238 million daily users. , which has much looser rules. But if Congress doesn’t tighten up the rules first, advertisers, users, and possibly lenders could tie him up.

“If advertisers leave and users leave, markets for ideas can become a kind of self-solve,” says Carrie Corianese, a regulatory policy expert at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Then Twitter could become just another place to attract extremists and conspiracy theorists. Some people have concerns that encourage them to stay in their friend networks to counter such talk.

Chandler said he could only “walk on eggshells” and take a wait-and-see approach.

“Personally, I’m going to stay on Twitter until there’s no more reason to stay. I don’t know what the future holds, but I expect some kind of miracle,” she said. By the way, I’m not going anywhere.

___ Follow Maryclaire Dale on Twitter at Influencers are debating leaving Twitter, but where are they going?

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