Michael A Cohen/”Truth and Consequences” on Substack:

The Perils Of Online-ness

Outrage might work on Twitter but it’s a loser in politics.

Late Friday afternoon, Ron DeSantis’s Twitter feed pushed out a video so full of harsh and ostentatiously hate-filled anti-LGBT tropes even some Republicans were appalled by it…

Much has already been written about this episode of presidential campaign Hari-kari, but two crucial points are not getting enough attention.

First, this is yet another example of the bewildering incompetence of the DeSantis campaign. A pro-DeSantis Twitter feed produced this bizarre video, and the campaign’s Twitter War Room account pushed it out, apparently oblivious to the political damage that it could do. A smart presidential campaign would not have touched this video — which, as noted above, twice compares DeSantis to a serial killer and positively notes that legislation passed in Florida puts the lives of trans kids in danger — with a ten-foot pole.

The problem, however, is more than just lousy staff. This episode is emblematic of a candidate and campaign that is terminally online and obsessively focused on the various right-wing outrages that drive social media. This gets to something that the Bulwark’s Tim Miller wrote a few months ago in comparing the faltering DeSantis campaign to that of 2020 Democratic contender Elizabeth Warren.

There’s a new kid on the block, called Threads. It’s a Facebook/Instagram product, and is meant to be a Twitter competitor along with Post, BlueSky, Mastodon, Spoutible (and a few others such as Notes on Substack.) I’m on all of them to varying degrees.

None of them are a complete substitute for what Twitter used to be, though Elon Musk’s  disastrous management is pushing people off the site (and by people I mean the journalists, activists and academics that made the site what it was). 

But since Threads had a successful launch last week, I thought I’d share some observations from my explorations and some other pithy critiques.

First of all, there’s no desktop access to Threads. You have to use a mobile device and best if you already have an Instagram account or you’ll have to create one (I use a desktop primarily and I had no instagram account, so ugh. But I thought I’d save you the trouble of looking in vain for a desktop version).

Secondly, there’s no culled feed, you can follow people but you take what the algorithm offers you.

Thirdly, since Meta/Facebook/Instagram have known privacy issues, there’s a dearth of European posters. The United Kingdom seems to be on board, so if you want to follow British or Israeli politics, or the Ukrainian war, good luck. There might be unexpected gaps.

Fourthly, there’s no Direct Messaging (DM).

Now, some or all of these issues might be resolved after the rushed launch, but there it is for now.


We tried Threads, Meta’s new Twitter rival. Here’s what happened

Kari Paul tested the social network minutes after its launch – did it fail to impress, or should Elon Musk be shuddering?

Unlike Twitter, Threads does not seem to use hashtags and does not have a feature that allows users to search for specific text or phrases. It also allows users to share up to 10 photos in a single post – the same limit that exists on Instagram – as opposed to Twitter’s limit of four images.

We tested the app from the US, but it’s now live in Apple and Google Android app stores in more than 100 countries including Britain, Australia, Canada and Japan.


Does Threads work on desktop?

Web app explained

For better or worse, another element that Threads is taking from Instagram’s template is the lack of a usable web app or desktop mode at launch. While there is a basic front-end where you are able to access posts and profiles on Threads, you cannot view your timeline, or log in.

Instead, users will be pointed toward the mobile app, which will allow them to install the app and post and view their timeline from there. The possible reasoning behind this is to push the number of mobile app downloads on the platform. Many social media users only use the apps via their mobile devices, so there is less pressure for the company to introduce a functional web app right at launch.

Oh, and by the way, this from Reuters:

Twitter threatens Threads lawsuit against Meta

 Twitter has threatened to sue Meta Platforms (META.O) over its new Threads platform in a letter sent to the Facebook parent’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg by Twitter’s lawyer Alex Spiro.

Meta, which launched Threads on Wednesday and has logged more than 30 million sign ups, looks to take on Elon Musk’s Twitter by leveraging Instagram’s billions of users.


Politico Magazine:

A New Poll on the Trump Indictments Has a Surprising Result

A new POLITICO Magazine/Ipsos poll finds one thing that unites people on the Trump indictments.

According to a new poll commissioned by POLITICO Magazine and conducted by Ipsos, most Americans — including a large number of Republicans, who the former president is currently courting for his 2024 campaign — believe that the trial in the pending federal case against Trump for mishandling classified documents should occur before the GOP primaries and well before the general election.

Lee Drutman/Washington Post:

Our two-party political system isn’t working. The fix? More parties.

There’s a better way to represent the country’s diversity and offer more citizens a hopeful, engaging vision for the future: create more parties.

But real, vibrant, healthy parties. Not top-down one-shot presidential candidacies, built only on the passing winds of celebrity and whims of wealthy donors. Not parties whose completely open primaries leave them vulnerable to populist outsiders. We need parties that do the hard work of candidate-vetting and gatekeeping and organizing and coalition-building that political parties are uniquely able to do; parties that organize from the bottom up, giving disaffected voters a voice, a collective identity and a long-term institution for building real power.

Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman/Washington Post:

 A Georgia teacher’s plight exposes the essence of anti-woke MAGA fury

At first glance, the plight of Katherine Rinderle, a fifth-grade teacher in Georgia, might seem confusing. Rinderle faces likely termination by the Cobb County School District for reading aloud a children’s book that touches on gender identity. Yet she is charged in part with violating policy related to a state law banning “divisive concepts” about race, not gender.

This disconnect captures something essential about state laws and directives restricting classroom discussion across the country: They seem to be imprecisely drafted to encourage censorship. That invites parents and administrators to seek to apply bans to teachers haphazardly, forcing teachers to err on the side of muzzling themselves rather than risk unintentionally crossing fuzzy lines into illegality.

“Teachers are fearful,” Rinderle told us in an interview. “These vague laws are chilling and result in teachers self-censoring.”

From Cliff Schecter:

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