Monday, June 10, 2024

"It’s 2024. Elon Musk Rules X. And the Political World Is Still Addicted"

From NOTUS at the Allbritton Journalism Institute, June 7:

Paid ads for political candidates are all over the platform, and politics insiders are secretly buying blue checks.

While former President Donald Trump was actively being convicted by a jury of his peers in New York City last week, Democratic strategist Tim Hogan did what just about everyone in politics, media and the surrounding D.C. ecosystem did: He flipped open the social media app X, f.k.a. Twitter, and began furiously scrolling.

“Twitter still critical on days like today,” he tapped out. “There is no replacement.”

He deleted the post shortly after publishing it, in what appeared as a perfect articulation of the love-but-wish-I-didn’t relationship many in the political world now have with Twitter.

“I guess you have your lead,” Hogan laughed in a phone interview about his tweets with NOTUS. The delete was not intended to be poignant, Hogan said; he periodically deletes the ones that aren’t “bangers.”

But he stands by his point: Political elite circles are on Twitter once again, only in a weirder fashion than before Elon Musk took over at the end of 2022. The argument is over; the hellsite is back. It’s a win for Musk, but one that people absolutely do not want to hand to him. In interviews, users said Twitter is not what it was, but also it’s not as bad as it was in the most chaotic days after it became Musk’s to do with as he pleases. People do not like to be on it, but they also once again have to be. Two years after words like Mastodon, BlueSky, Post and Threads became rallying cries and users declared war on the blue check, those who made Twitter what it was in the days before Musk have returned to using X.

“It’s a little bit like — with different stakes, of course — a little bit like the Trump administration,” Hogan said. “He won in 2016; it was horrible. We said we were going to move to New Zealand or Canada, but the reality is we had to ride it out. That is a little similar to this platform.”

Musk has notoriously trashed the media on X and drove industry stalwarts like NPR away with policies they said undermined their credibility. NPR is still gone, but others are now paying up for access to what remains one of the most powerful audiences in social media. NOTUS pays for a gold check that promises “better reach” for content, among other benefits. A number of for-profit news outlets have bought similar access.

Multiple D.C. tweeters said they knew people — everyone says they know one, no one will admit they are one — who paid for the site but chose a setting that keeps the blue check hidden so no one would know. When that setting was threatened, many of these people panicked.

It’s not just the media part of the political universe paying up for the privilege of accessing Twitter users. Paid ads for political candidates are all over the platform. Last year, Democratic candidates spent more than a million bucks on Twitter ads, The Washington Post reported.

One reason for this is that ad buyers love a bargain. One digital political strategist familiar with X told NOTUS that buying advertising on the site had become much cheaper recently, amid a broad advertising pullback from nonpolitical commercial interests on the platform. That’s led to an even greater return on investment for campaigns, the source added.

Another is that Twitter is back when it comes to politics. A second source said that the site remains a popular destination for people highly engaged in politics, many of whom are prime targets for a campaign looking to expand its list of donors.

“Campaigns are seeing it pay off,” said a national Democratic strategist working on campaigns this year....


 Related, the introduction to October 2023's "Things I Did Not Know About Twitter"

I am not on Twitter, having been counseled that the platform would offer me far too many opportunities to make a damn fool of myself.

I do however keep tabs on it as an opinion/editorial channel and as a crude measure of the zeitgeist. And since Mr. Musk's purchase of Twitter I observed many users state they were leaving Twitter and asked a young lady who knows about such things what was going on.

Apparently there are two memes that are used as explanations: 1) Twitter is not an airport, there is no requirement to announce your departure. and 2) the people who say they are leaving are attention whores trying to convince the world they are important. Interestingly many don't actually leave Twitter or do leave and are back in days/weeks. They just want to bleat: "you're sure going to miss me when I'm gone." The meme attached to this is: "How can we miss you if you won't go away?"

Yesterday she sent me a thread that is a bit less lighthearted....