Why I am not joining the #TwitterBlackout
The freedom of the internet is an important issue. States will always to extend their dominion over cultural phenomena they perceive is a serious threat to their ability to have control over the flow of information, a priceless commodity. Believers in democracy should resist these moves. So, let me preface these remarks by saying, without reservation, the cause of those participating in the Twitter BlackOut is just. Twitter has shown a lamentable spinelessness in cow-towing to very unsavoury regimes. It cannot be absolved for its part in this; it has put business before the very principles that make its business a success.
However, I am not participating in the Twitter BlackOut today. In fact, calling for such a thing is a huge tactical blunder. Twitter wants dissenting voices silenced so, we respond by silencing ourselves? Surely some mistake. What summed up my reasons for not participating was seeing tweets and pictures from the hugely important actions up and down the country against the Welfare Reform Bill, this barbaric piece of legislation is going to shatter so many lives its simply untrue.
Are we seriously saying activists in those campaigns should deprive themselves of what is an essential platform (given the poor coverage the mainstream media offer) just to fight Twitter-censorship? I hope not. If we are then we need to ask the question of whether internet activisms sense of self-importance is too inflated.
Alternatives exist to the blackout – like protest by hashtag. My feeling is that Twitter will ignore the protests today but they would find a constantly trending hashtag much more difficult to ignore not least because our sense of disgust would be on every users homepage across the globe. Instead of ‘blacking out’ we should make some noise. I hope after today campaigners will rethink their strategy because currently it is deeply flawed and unlikely to force Twitter to grow a spine and stand up to these undemocratic attacks on our freedom.