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Train the swamp: Let's help make Twitter more civil

Friday, 02 March 2018

Train the swamp: Let's help make Twitter more civil

We are not doing our leftist friends any favours by letting their opinions go unchallenged on social media, writes Fred Pawle.

The response was Pavlovian. When we announced on Twitter on Wednesday that we would be holding events in which several prominent right-of-centre Twitter practitioners would share their techniques for winning arguments on Twitter, leftist Twitter trolls immediately responded with an eruption of indignant, abusive tweets.

If that sounds like an echo chamber, it is. But as US President Donald Trump has demonstrated, Twitter can be enormously useful if you disregard the angry, anonymous mobs roaming its digital terrain.

This is easier said than done, as we were reminded on Wednesday.

“Seriously, who are these people?” one commenter asked, referring to the high-profile panels we had assembled, as a handful of other critics shared their unsolicited, embittered opinions about us.

BOOK NOW: How to Win Twitter, Sydney and Melbourne

One of the panelists, Sky News presenter and News Corp columnist Caroline Marcus, helpfully replied: “It literally says who we are on the post you are commenting on.”

The haste with which many Twitter commenters resort to abuse, and the fleeting gratification they get from gratuitous humiliation, blinds them to the merits of opposing opinions, let alone the inadequacies of their own arguments.

“Twitter is militantly patrolled by self-appointed moral guardians who, without a shred of irony, try to bully anyone with a different world view into silence,” Marcus says. “Navigating the swamp with your sanity intact is a feat in itself.”

Didn’t Trump say something about swamps once?

Some might call it ambitious, but our sincere hope is that our events in Sydney and Melbourne (with other cities possibly to follow) will encourage more people with centrist or conservative views to wade into Twitter and, as civilly as possible, join our panelists in arguing the case for such things as coal-fired power, selective migration, a more representative ABC, smaller government, lower taxes and a return to the personal responsibility that was once a hallmark of our culture (this last idea is unlikely to catch on among those who hide behind anonymous social-media avatars, but whatever).

Chris Kenny, a columnist for The Australian and presenter on 2GB radio, is not understating the challenge.

Twitter is full of green-left lies and myths,” he says. “We need more right-of-centre people to get in there, chuck truth bombs - and duck.”

Our panels will discuss ways to attract a decent following, how to respond to bullying, the importance of sticking to the facts, and whether the rampant overuse of “hypocrite” has stripped the word of all its meaning.

Joining the fray on social media is crucial for another reason: the social media companies themselves are also trying to suppress conservative views. Facebook, Twitter and Youtube have all been exposed recently of blocking conservative commentators and news outlets while giving free rein to leftist or anti-western commentators.

A panel discussion on this topic was held at the Conservative Political Action Conference in the US last week, chaired by Pamela Geller.

This issue — the suppression of the freedom of speech on social media — affects all of us on the right,” she said. “In fact, it is the most critical issue of the day: if we are stripped of the means to communicate with one another, it’s all over.”

Actually, it will be all over even before then if we don’t jump on social media in the first place.

To book a seat at one of our How to Win Twitter events, click here.

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