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Bye-Bye Bluebird

Mountain bluebird

Mountain bluebird (A. Kotok)

17 Dec. 2022. Sharp-eyed readers of Science & Enterprise may have noticed that in mid-November we removed our Twitter feed display in the right-hand column. Yesterday, we decided to leave Twitter altogether and deactivated our account.

Twitter and its increasingly erratic owner Elon Musk has been making headlines recently, with the latest stunt being the tossing, then reinstating of several journalists. Apparently, Musk didn’t like some reporters digging into the way he conducts business or his management style. Later, Twitter stopped connecting links to Mastodon, the open-standards social media site, including the link to the Mastodon page of our parent company, Technology News and Literature. (The tech news site Gizmodo has been quite good at covering this sorry saga.)

At that point, I decided enough was enough. In mid-November, I began to doubt the viability of Twitter when Musk laid off half of his engineering staff, after blocking the work of its content monitors, the people watching for violence, conspiracies, or hate speech. Many advertisers, who don’t want their products or services displayed in proximity with that stuff began bailing on Twitter. When Twitter canceled the accounts of respected journalists and blocked our link to Mastodon, I decided to pull out as well.

While we’re not advertisers, we don’t want the display of our work anywhere near Musk’s crackpot fantasies. Last week, Musk called for the prosecution of retiring NIAID director Anthony Fauci, then leveled another gratuitous shot at immunologist Peter Hotez at Texas Children’s Hospital. Hotez’s crime in Musk’s eyes is apparently developing an inexpensive vaccine protecting against Covid-19 disease, which we covered on Science & Enterprise a year ago.

How long before Musk begins to attack other news reports about vaccines? We’ve got better things to do than wait around and find out.

Science & Enterprise still has its Facebook fan page, where we post summaries and links to our stories, as well as my LinkedIn page. As mentioned earlier, we’re also on Mastodon, a social network built on the ActivityPub recommendation, an open standard developed by the World Wide Web Consortium. Musk has plenty to fear from Mastodon. Like the Web itself, no one owns Mastodon. It operates with a compatible collection of interconnected servers call instances. Any person or group operating a Mastodon instance must pledge to moderate against hate speech, make daily back-ups, and give at least three months notice if shutting down.

We’ve now removed all links to Twitter from Science & Enterprise, including through social media sharing. Bye-bye Bluebird. It’s been fun.

– Alan Kotok

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