There’s a thing I was going to add to my post about self-censorship yesterday that I never got around to: the dust-up over Threads saying that it will not algorithmically recommend to users so-called “political” posts from people they don’t already follow, in the way that it does recommend posts on other subjects from people they don’t follow.
Does any topic which has been politicized count? Are all posts about global warming, trans rights, healthcare, and intellectual property law considered political, or just those which advocate for a particular position? If advocacy is demoted, it likely benefits the status quo and creates a conservative bias by definition.
The reason I’d thought about including this in the discussion of self-censorship is because in that conversation I’d gotten to thinking about the comedic adage that we should punch up and not down. In the context I’d linked yesterday about Jason Kratz’ complaints, it was an instance of punching up with which he took issue.
This is the central conundrum, of course: bans on the promotion of “political” matter arguably often has the effect of limiting the spread of dissent. Indeed, in the Micro.blog incident, the other person who eventually shuttered their account had tried to weaponize the service’s community guidelines against it. In any system that tries to keep “politics” out of its recommendation engine, the risk is run that valuable punching up will have its reach limited to existing “echo chambers”.
Secondarily, I’d wanted briefly to return to this discussion because of this branch of it that grew from Sherif Soliman’s response to Jason Becker’s thoughts which I linked in an addendum yesterday. As I note in the back and forth, I was having some trouble with Sherif’s post until Jason (again, Becker, not Kratz) helpfully provided some context.
I don’t mean to minimize this category, which I might call “the heretic”, but I do think I skipped over it for a reason. The vast majority of people who think they fall into this camp don’t.
This is it precisely when it comes to this moping about self-censorship: the idea is being used as a blunt club by people who think they are being persecuted for some sort of identitarian heresy that’s actually more properly described and defined as defending the privileges of the status quo from being punched at from below.