Niles: Is there a post-Elon Musk future for Disney Twitter?

The future of one of Disneyland fans’ favorite gathering places is now in doubt. It is not any physical space at the Disneyland Resort, however. It’s Twitter.

Twitter and other social media channels have supported large, active and growing Disney Parks fans communities for years. Many pundits and analysts are speculating on Twitter’s future now that Elon Musk has taken control. What could changes at Twitter mean for the Disneyland fans who spend so much of their time and attention on the social network?

Eventually, that’s for Disneyland fans themselves to decide. Whether you love Disneyland or not, the way that you use social media ultimately determines how positive or negative those networks will be, for you and for the rest of society.

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I always roll my eyes when I see a Twitter profile that declares, “retweets are not endorsements.” How naïve. Retweets absolutely are endorsements. So are likes and comments and clicks. Anything that represents your engagement with a Tweet or any other social media post signals to that social media company’s algorithm that this is a post the algorithm should be boosting to other readers.

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Social media algorithms are built on the cliché that the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. Posts that elicit indifference — as measured by a lack of shares, likes and comments —  get buried. Want to get shown widely instead? You had better post something that elicits a reaction. What that reaction is, ultimately, does not matter.

Most of us learned at a very young age that the quickest and surest way to provoke a reaction is to do something that makes people angry. The angrier they get, the more extreme the reactions.

That is what drives social media networks today. That also is why the fan networks that commune on these networks so often grow toxic. The algorithms reward voices that offer emotionally charged hot takes while they mute others who offer more considered nuance.

However, social networks ultimately are … social. The algorithms may be programmed to promote engagement, but the users ultimately have control over what they engage with. If you do not want to boost ignorant, hateful or abusive content, do not respond to it. Do not retweet or share it with a condemnation. Do not read or watch it through to its end. Quantifiable indifference is our defense against toxic social media when engagement metrics rule the algorithms.

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If you must react to something offensive, unfollow or block its creator. If a network offers a “Not Interested” option, such as TikTok, click that. Otherwise, just keep scrolling. React instead only to the voices you wish to promote.

Better yet, get away from the toxic-promoting algorithms. Find the voices you respect and follow their websites directly. Google “RSS reader” and use one to follow those sources who reward you with insight instead of provoking you with anger.

Fan communities can be wonderful things — but not when fans allow click-baiting algorithms to take control.


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