By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

X/Twitter may be terrible, but it’s still the go-to place for certain types of conversations

Walt Mossberg, right, has had it with Elon Musk, but he apparently has no problem with Mark Zuckerberg, left. That’s Kara Swisher in the middle. Photo (cc) 2012 by Joe Hall.

On Thursday, I posted an opinion about the newly enacted Massachusetts tax cut on X/Twitter and its three main competitors — Mastodon, Threads and Bluesky. I did it in part simply because I wanted to make a comment, but I also was experimenting. Here’s the post on Threads:

Why are our local media united in referring to the Mass. tax cuts as “tax relief”? It’s an unnecessary package, mainly skewed toward the rich, that will offset the ballot question we just passed to try to meet some real needs in schools, transportation and social services.

Twitter and Mastodon support hashtags, so on those platforms I changed Massachusetts to #MaPoli in the hopes that it would get picked up in those communities. And here’s what I found: As of this morning, I’ve gotten 11 likes and three replies on Threads; 10 likes, four reposts and one reply on Bluesky; eight likes, six reposts and one reply on Mastodon; and 213 likes, 60 reposts and 20 replies on Twitter, including a worthwhile back-and-forth with Matt Szafranski, a lawyer who’s the editor-in-chief of Western Mass Politics & Insight, on whether state officials will be able to grab revenues from the new millionaire’s tax to fund needs other than education and transportation, as the law specifies.

Now, you might say, what’s the big deal? Aren’t we past worrying about engagement on social media? Well, yes and no. Performative tweeting has gotten many people in trouble, including me. But in this case I wanted to express an opinion that would be seen by people in the Massachusetts media and political community, and I knew Twitter would be the best outlet.

Ever since Elon Musk bought Twitter a year ago and took a wrecking ball to it, there’s been a lot of what you might call Twitter-shaming — castigating anyone who continues to use Twitter on the grounds that by doing so you’re enabling Musk and his sociopathic attacks on transgender people and anyone else with the misfortune to cross his radar. For instance, he recently amplified hateful attacks on a reporter for the Las Vegas because he literally had no idea what had really happened, as Angela Fu recently reported for Poynter Online.

I went completely silent on Twitter for several months after Musk bought it and invested quite a bit of time in Mastodon, which is a lovely little community whose members include few of the political, media and local news accounts I need to follow for my professional and academic work. I find more of a political and media presence on Threads and Bluesky but very little of the #MaPoli crowd and virtually none of the people and organizations that are tracking the future of community journalism.

The Twitter-shaming, though, continues. Retired Wall Street Journal tech columnist Walt Mossberg, who only left Twitter a month ago, posted this on Threads Friday:

The reason to quit Twitter (X) isn’t that it’s apparently collapsing financially, or killing important features. It’s a moral and ethical issue. Not only are Nazis, racists, antisemites, misogynists, liars and conspiracy theorists being welcomed back, but the owner seems to be actively supporting this. I gave up a 16-year account with over 800,000 followers because I couldn’t associate myself with this haven for hate and lies. You should too.

Well, good for you, Walt. By the way, you posted that on a platform controlled by Mark Zuckerberg, who has not exactly covered himself in glory with regard to clamping down on election disinformation and enabling genocide. There are also those who criticize anyone who publishes on Substack because that platform has become a home to some sleazy right-wingers (let’s not forget that the great Heather Cox Richardson writes her newsletter on Substack) or who uses Bluesky because Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, who has his own issues, is a member of the board.

I’m actively rooting for Musk to drive Twitter into the ground and kill it off once and for all. Until he does, though, I’m going to use it — not as much as I used to, and more carefully than I did in the past. But though Musk is the worst of the worst, the reality is that most of our tech platforms are controlled by dubious characters, and there’s not much we can do about it.

Leave a comment | Read comments

Discover more from Media Nation

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.


Boehner is to Romney as McCarthy is to — Trump?


Have faith


  1. Steve Schnapp

    I feel similarly about cars. These awful, polluting, inefficient, and costly vehicles are helping to drive the anthropocene and the sixth mass extinction. Nonetheless, with the deliberate disinvestment in public transportation infrastructure for the last 70+ years, many people have no choice but to own and drive cars. This provokes, particulalry among progressives and others trying to be environmentally responsible, the notion of being complicit in maintaining a catastrophic system, a major source of intellectual disequilibrium for us, according to Naomi Klein (see her latest book “Doppleganger”).

    • dkennedy56

      Cars are a great example of something that we can do very little about as individuals. We were able to cut our car commuting by at least 95% when we moved eight years ago — but you have to be able to afford to do that.

  2. I have been following all of this exactly like you except my only platforms are X and threads. The others I attempted and couldn’t make sense of them/have all the people important to me professionally, politically, and personally.

  3. Ruston Lodi

    On a much smaller scale, I’m with you Dan. Still using it while cheering for a competitor to come along that matches Twitter’s reach.

  4. Forrest S.

    I dunno. Dan and I have been having an email conversation about my enlightenment ( about Facebook (Meta) and how Zuckerberg and Co. participated in the Rohingya genocide. I’m now actively discouraging others not to use Meta products. As a priveleged, educated, white guy, I do what I can to make a difference. I’d feel too d*mn guilty otherwise. I just hope I’m working for the greater good.

  5. Mike LaBonte

    X is #15 in terms of users, so I agree that this is not about reaching everyone. We originally turned to Twitter to be connected to less people and have *all* of their posts in our feeds, for example. In theory no special technology is required to create a replacement, the challenge now seems to be only about governance.

    Yet, the ever evolving ActivityPub-based technologies that are designed from the ground up to change governance will someday provide the solution, once they add certain features. They are improving, although not as quickly as X is going down the drain. Give it time, we will see the day when it doesn’t matter much which social media service we sign up with, just like with email.

  6. Aaron Kitzmiller

    You could do one simple thing to help move people off of the site run by a Nazi-adjacent megalomaniac that is platforming the worst of humanity: post twice. I bet a lot of dissidents in the former Soviet Union or some other mid-century dictatorship would have loved to be able to help bring down a fascist outlet simply by writing the same 200 characters twice. Hell, not even writing them twice. Just copy and past from one window to the other.

    • dkennedy56

      I post on Mastodon, Bluesky, Threads, Facebook and LinkedIn as well as Twitter. In some cases I skip Twitter.

      • Aaron Kitzmiller

        Great. Sounded like you were “experimenting”, not necessarily committed. I personally lean Threads only because it seems to have a functional tech team.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén