Will Stancil Profile picture
Oct 27 17 tweets 3 min read
For decades there's been a right-wing information bubble growing - Fox News, talk radio, OANN, and the like. But it was mostly separate from the mainstream. Most people got news and communicated with each other outside of it.

But not anymore.
We're reaching the point where it will be VERY difficult for political leaders to communicate with us, or for us to communicate with each other, without passing through the right-wing bubble. Most cable news is in it to varying degrees. Most local channels too. Papers are dying.
And the internet is worse. Most of the major social networks are now inside the bubble: Facebook and YouTube are absolutely dominated by right-wing stories and voices. And now Twitter is under the total private control of a Thiel/Trump/Putin ally.
Liberals foolishly ignored the growth of the right-wing bubble when it was its own little alternate universe, and even then, it produced disastrous political consequences. I really don't think people understand how bad it will be if ALMOST EVERYTHING is inside that bubble.
You may well struggle to get a message out if it's not endorsed by the right. Worse still, liberals could simply be banned or excluded. There's no real reason, for instance, Musk couldn't simply ban every Democrat from Twitter if the party annoyed him. Why not?
Liberals are accustomed to solid, stable institutions run by people who are vulnerable to public pressure. But institutions run by the far right aren't like that. We can't pressure Fox News to take Tucker Carlson off the air, no matter how racist he gets. They just don't care.
Now imagine that this same attitude prevails everywhere.
To take an example, think about something that's been happening on here a lot lately: transphobes coordinating harassment campaigns. It's been an effort to suppress these, but there's halting progress. Now imagine the decisionmakers simply don't care. In fact, they SUPPORT it.
What is going to force their hand? Public pressure? From where? If most of the public information channels are in the hands of the right, anyone objecting will simply be shouting into the void. What are you going to do, handing out pamphlets on street corners?
Or consider something else that's been a huge problem on social media, one the government is very concerned with: anti-vax stuff. Right now, there's too much of it, but there's at least a notional rule that it's prohibited. What happens when the doors fling open?
There's this weird confidence among older liberal leaders that it'll all be fine, they'll deal with it, but how? With no ability to build any real public pressure, why would anyone feel any need to listen to you? Again, it's like complaining to Fox News. You'll get laughed at.
All of these problems severely reinforce each other. When it's just a few actors making these decisions, mainstream voices have the opportunity to get correct information out through other channels. But when it's EVERYONE, they just can't do anything at all. You're paralyzed.
And you can apply the same problem to literally any issue you can think of. Right now the US public is powerfully pro-Ukraine, partly because we've managed to suppress Russian propagandists. What happens if that stops?
Liberals have this tendency to always think problems can be solved by appealing to a superior authority. But who? The courts (under complete Republican control)? The media (overwhelmingly aligned with the right)? The public (increasingly cut off from you)?
You need to protect these institutions if you're going to rely on them, and liberals haven't. And no institutions have been more egregiously neglected than media. While the right spent decades scrapping and clawing for media influence, liberals just floated above it all, aloof.
Now we're 24 hours from letting it all happen yet again, as Musk takes over Twitter seemingly unobstructed. Another information channel, one of the biggest, certainly the most central, lost to the right in an instant.
But it's okay, Democrats and liberals. You don't need Twitter, probably. It's not real life. You know what's real life? TV ads. The WaPo op-ed page. You could start a blog! Hang out in Youtube comments and press your case. You'll do great. No need to think about any of this.

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More from @whstancil

Oct 29
This is the difference between Republicans pushing their advantage on news events shortly before elections and Democrats refusing to do so ImageImage
The irony here is that outrage over Clinton emails was totally fake, while Republicans really did encourage the exact politics that nearly got Pelosi killed yesterday. Doesn’t matter - media coverage reflects partisan pressures
Look at this thread. It really feels like Dems are being instructed not to mention MAGA or Republicans when talking about the Pelosi attack. As ever, they seem more governed by fear of backlash from addressing the problem than they are of the problem itself
Read 4 tweets
Oct 28
maybe it's just my bad luck, but my feed is full of democrats talking about public safety and the economy?? and not the MAGA-inspired assassination attempt on their own party leader??
this party absolutely deserves to lose. the self-preservation instincts of a herd of lemmings
can you imagine what the right would be doing if a diehard follower of Barack Obama had tried to kill Kevin McCarthy ten days before the election? but we're just going to sit here and performatively underreact, I guess. "real americans want to hear about the issues"
Read 5 tweets
Oct 28
A MAGA diehard tried to assassinate the Speaker of the House. Democrats in Congress being targeted. Social media newly flooded with neo-Nazis. Trump and Kanye spouting anti-semitism and getting celebrated by the Republican Party. Can we talk bluntly about what’s happening?
The Republican Party has a violence problem. It has a racism problem. It has a conspiracy theory problem. It has a Nazi problem. If it takes power, it may not give it back. And a lot of people might get killed.
The new rule in political media really should be that any Republican which votes alongside the far right, conspiracy theorists, antisemites, and election deniers is condoning them, unless they explicitly denounce those groups.
Read 4 tweets
Oct 28
It’s not “social media.” It’s not “economic anxiety.” Far-right ideas are just inherently dangerous in liberal democracy, because they are violent. When people who hold far-right ideas are given big platforms and real influence, they spread those ideas, and things get worse.
It really is that simple. We had various mechanisms in place that made it difficult to promote far-right, conspiratorial, authoritarian, and racist ideas. A lot those mechanisms failed and the people running our liberal democracy didn’t really push back much. So the ideas spread.
Some of the culprits are on the right - Republicans willing to elevate the far right to national political power as long as they got to ride the coattails.

Some are left of center: feckless moderates and liberals who assume the whole thing will blow over of its own accord.
Read 5 tweets
Oct 28
how it started how it’s going ImageImage
it’s really not a mystery at this point what happens when you elevate the far right and let it shout itself into a frenzy. there are lifetimes of evidence about it
no I’m implying that elevating the far right has completely foreseeable consequences, political violence among them, as we’ve seen over and over and over and over and over
Read 5 tweets
Oct 28
truly, from a sheer self-preservation perspective, Democrats sitting back and letting Musk take over Twitter has to be one of the dumbest things any government has ever done
“we’re in a decade-long fight against far-right social media misinformation that has helped elect a fascist president, devastated our pandemic response, produced street violence, and bolstered authoritarian regimes. oh well, just give them the internet’s main hub unchallenged”
musk didn’t want to buy twitter and it’s not at all clear to me that he wouldn’t have actively welcome the federal government looking for ways to disrupt the sale for national-interest reasons, even if it’s just close regulatory scrutiny slowing stuff down
Read 5 tweets

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