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A tale of two cancellations: are young people sanctimonious, Twitter-captured and intolerant?

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The details of social media cancellations, like ancient blood feuds, can be difficult to follow.

For some of us the cancellation business is a sort of intellectual sport, a can’t-look-away fable for contemporary life.

When someone sins, and is shamed for their sin en masse on social media, consequently losing work or (for celebrities) commercial endorsements, it tells us amateur anthropologists a lot about how people wish to project themselves.

This week has provided two examples of cancellations and counter-cancellations, the first involving American TV personality and model Chrissy Teigen, who built a brand and an enormous Twitter following on being likeable and “real”.

Chrissy Teigen may have been heralded as a heroic truth-teller last year, when she revealed her third child was stillborn, but that hasn’t stopped her from being vilified over recently unearthed comments.

Chrissy Teigen may have been heralded as a heroic truth-teller last year, when she revealed her third child was stillborn, but that hasn’t stopped her from being vilified over recently unearthed comments.Credit:Instagram/chrissyteigen

She is self-deprecating, she shared the tragic details of her baby’s stillbirth on Twitter, she talks about her mental health.

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She has often been the target of nasty, Trumpian right-wing trolls, and she developed a reputation for taking them on and mocking them freely.

She was a Twitter favourite, that is, until various other celebrities spoke up about how, before Teigen was mega-famous, but very much courting mega-fame, she abused them on social media.

Old tweets were unearthed. She had told people to kill themselves and self harm. She punched down – her targets were vulnerable people in the public eye who were clearly struggling.

Teigen was accordingly cancelled, which was sweet justice for some, because she had been inadvertently responsible for the cancellation of former New York Times food writer Alison Roman. (*Deep breath here.*)

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You see, in a 2020 interview, Roman criticised Teigen (who endorses cooking products for Target, at least she did until her own cancellation) for cashing in.

Roman was accused of being racist (Teigen is ethnically half-Thai) and was abused on social media. The upshot was that Roman left The New York Times and started her own subscription-based recipe and cooking newsletter.

If Roman is indeed racist, it doesn’t show because she only ever talks about cooking, and her eggplant parmigiana is excellent.

This week Teigen took to Twitter, again, to issue a long apology replete with promises to learn and grow.

As one writer pointed out, it might have been better to apologise privately to the people she had wronged. But in the age of social media, no principle is worth standing on if you can’t do it in full public view, preferably with thousands of retweets.

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Which brings us to the second and more fascinating social media fight of the week, between the acclaimed Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and two of her former protegees.

Adichie went viral with a blogpost she penned attacking young people on Twitter who are “choking on sanctimony and lacking in compassion”, who “wield the words ‘violence’ and ‘weaponise’ like tarnished pitchforks … people who depend on obfuscation, who have no compassion for anybody genuinely curious or confused”.

The source of the dispute was comments Adichie made during a 2017 interview on British television. Adichie, a strong feminist, was asked her views of trans women. She responded by saying, among other things, that “trans women are trans women” and that “I don’t think it’s a good thing to talk about women’s issues being exactly the same as the issues of trans women because I don’t think that’s true”.

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Her former protegees, one of them transgender, attacked Adichie on social media, calling her a transphobe.

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Adichie details her surprise and disgust when one of them subsequently used her name in the author bio on their novel (Adichie asked the publisher to remove it), and the other emailed her privately to apologise (Adichie did not respond).

Adichie extrapolated these experiences to lament a younger generation that is sanctimonious and performative in its virtue, but lacking true decency.

“We have a generation of young people on social media so terrified of having the wrong opinions that they have robbed themselves of the opportunity to think and to learn and to grow,” she wrote.

The blogpost went viral, with Adichie once again copping abuse on Twitter, rather proving her point.

But the point was well argued and well expressed.

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There is part of the left, closely associated with Twitter, that is characterised by a refusal to recognise context, indifference to nuance and complexity, and a total rejection of the concept of intention.

They refuse to acknowledge that it matters very much whether a person is engaging in a debate in good faith or not.

All these qualities are put together with a performative flex – if you get that flex right, you are part of the in-group, which is as elemental and occasionally nasty as a schoolyard gang.

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A home-grown example of this is the malice and idiocy with which some journalists have been viciously attacked on social media for close questioning of Victorian Premier Dan Andrews and his heavy lockdown policy.

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Donald Trump was also known for leading attacks on journalists for doing their job – what a noble tradition to be following in.

The journalists attacked happen to be female, which I don’t think is a coincidence. Women, people of colour and trans people appear to suffer disproportionately from Twitter abuse.

It can have real-life consequences in terms of career harm and damage to mental health, not to mention a cruelling effect on debate and transparency.

The insidiousness of social media means the abuse is in your pocket, on your bedside, in your sanctum, in a way that is unprecedented in history.

To call Chimamanda a transphobe is as silly as contending that everyone who voted “No” in the marriage equality survey is a homophobe.

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That debate, notably, was won from a position of positivity and an emphasis on love, and it was won resoundingly.

Flexibility of thought is a powerful force for good. Most people know this – they just don’t tweet about it, so maybe that makes it easy to forget.

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TWITTER

Elon Musk Says He’ll Pay $11 Billion in Taxes in 2021 But Twitter Wants ‘Proof’

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Elon Musk took to Twitter to clarify once and for all that he will be paying a whopping $11 billion as taxes this year.

If the number of times Elon Musk could count when someone has asked him to pay the full taxes, he would be a very rich..wait, never mind. The Tesla boss is rich beyond any private individual has been in history, reports said.

Musk has increasingly been facing criticism from many politicians and many others who insist he has not been paying taxes as compared to the profits his companies have been making. On Sunday, the SpaceX CEO took to Twitter to share that he will be paying a whopping $11 billion as taxes.

For those wondering, I will pay over $11 billion in taxes this year— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 20, 2021

But some of the questions did not stop. One person tweeted how they needed to see Musk’s tax returns while yet another asked how much percentage was that of his total income.

A few were, however scathing of the government who thought they will add that amount to their pockets rather than using it for some proper development.

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Wow that’s enough to give each person in the world almost $2 million but instead the government will just stick it in their pockets— greg (@greg16676935420) December 20, 2021

Why not $200 billion? Asking for a Senator— litquidity (@litcapital) December 20, 2021

Earlier this week, Democratic US Senator Elizabeth Warren has tweeted to say that Musk should pay taxes and stop “freeloading off everyone else” after Time magazine named him its “person of the year”.

In response, Musk shot four tweets in which he said that the senator reminded him of a friend’s angry mom who yelled at everybody. He tweeted, ““And if you opened your eyes for 2 seconds, you would realize I will pay more taxes than any American in history this year.” “Don’t spend it all at once … oh wait you did already.”

He added further, “You remind me of when I was a kid and my friend’s angry Mom would just randomly yell at everyone for no reason.”

Musk responded by saying that he “will pay more taxes than any American in history this year”. This Twitter exchange left netizens divided as even though many supported Warren and agreed that Musk should pay more taxes, others felt that he was already doing enough.

Musk’s Tesla is worth about $1 trillion. Over the last few weeks, he has sold nearly $14 billion worth of Tesla shares.

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The Tesla boss has been pushing for his colonize Mars agenda for years now, and has made it very clear in some occasions that he would rather spend the money on putting humanity on the red planet, than pay his taxes. “My plan,” the SpaceX founder tweeted about his fortune, “is to use the money to get humanity to Mars and preserve the light of consciousness.”

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TWITTER

Twitter Admits Policy ‘Errors’ After Far-Right Abuse Its New Rules of Posting Pictures

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Twitter’s new picture permission policy was aimed at combating online abuse, but US activists and researchers said Friday that far-right backers have employed it to protect themselves from scrutiny and to harass opponents.

Even the social network admitted the rollout of the rules, which say anyone can ask Twitter to take down images of themselves posted without their consent, was marred by malicious reports and its teams’ own errors.

It was just the kind of trouble anti-racism advocates worried was coming after the policy was announced this week.

Their concerns were quickly validated, with anti-extremism researcher Kristofer Goldsmith tweeting a screenshot of a far-right call-to-action circulating on Telegram: “Due to the new privacy policy at Twitter, things now unexpectedly work more in our favor.”

“Anyone with a Twitter account should be reporting doxxing posts from the following accounts,” the message said, with a list of dozens of Twitter handles.

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Gwen Snyder, an organizer and researcher in Philadelphia, said her account was blocked this week after a report to Twitter about a series of 2019 photos she said showed a local political candidate at a march organized by extreme-right group Proud Boys.

Rather than go through an appeal with Twitter she opted to delete the images and alert others to what was happening.

“Twitter moving to eliminate (my) work from their platform is incredibly dangerous and is going to enable and embolden fascists,” she told AFP.

In announcing the privacy policy on Tuesday, Twitter noted that “sharing personal media, such as images or videos, can potentially violate a person’s privacy, and may lead to emotional or physical harm.”

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But the rules don’t apply to “public figures or individuals when media and accompanying Tweets are shared in the public interest or add value to public discourse.”

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By Friday, Twitter noted the roll out had been rough: “We became aware of a significant amount of coordinated and malicious reports, and unfortunately, our enforcement teams made several errors.”

“We’ve corrected those errors and are undergoing an internal review to make certain that this policy is used as intended,” the firm added.

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Jack Dorsey Post Twitter Is Chasing His Crypto, Fintech Dream

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At a packed Miami conference in June, Jack Dorsey, mused in front of thousands of attendees about where his real passion lay: “If I weren’t at Square or Twitter, I’d be working on Bitcoin.”

On Monday, Dorsey made good on one part of that, announcing he would leave Twitter for the second time, handing the CEO position to a 10-year veteran at the firm. The 45-year-old entrepreneur, who is often described as an enigma with varied interests from meditation to yoga to fashion design, plans to pursue his passion which include focusing on running Square and doing more philanthropic work, according to a source familiar with his plan.

Well before the surprise news, Dorsey had laid the groundwork for his next chapter, seeding both companies with cryptocurrency-related projects.

Underlying Dorsey’s broader vision is the principle of “decentralisation,” or the idea that technology and finance should not be concentrated among a handful of gatekeepers, as it is now, but should, instead, be steered by the hands of the many, either people or entities.

The concept has played out at Square, which has built a division devoted to working on projects and awarding grants with the aim of growing Bitcoin’s popularity globally. Bitcoin price in India stood at Rs. 44.52 lakh as of 12:50pm IST on December 1.

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Dorsey has been a longtime proponent of Bitcoin, and the appeal is that the cryptocurrency will allow for private and secure transactions with the value of Bitcoin unrelated to any government.

The idea has also underpinned new projects at Twitter, where Dorsey tapped a top lieutenant – and now the company’s new CEO Parag Agrawal – to oversee a team that is attempting to construct a decentralised social media protocol, which will allow different social platforms to connect with one another, similar to the way email providers operate.

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The project called Bluesky will aim to allow users control over the types of content they see online, removing the “burden” on companies like Twitter to enforce a global policy to fight abuse or misleading information, Dorsey said in 2019 when he announced Bluesky.

Bitcoin has also figured prominently at both of his companies. Square became one of the first public companies to own Bitcoin assets on its balance sheet, having invested $220 million (roughly Rs. 1,650 crore) in the cryptocurrency.

In August, Square created a new business unit called TBD to focus on Bitcoin. The company is also planning to build a hardware wallet for Bitcoin, a Bitcoin mining system, as well as a decentralised Bitcoin exchange.

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Twitter allows users to tip their favourite content creators with Bitcoin and has been testing integrations with non-fungible tokens (NFTs), a type of digital asset that allows people to collect unique digital art.

Analysts see the transition as a positive signal for Square, the fintech platform he co-founded in 2009. Square’s core Cash App, after a bull run in its share in 2020, has experienced slower growth in the most recent quarter. It is also trying to digest the $29 billion (roughly Rs. 2,17,240 crore) acquisition of Buy Now Pay Later provider Afterpay, its largest acquisition ever.

But these ambitions will not pay off until years from now, analysts cautioned.

“The blockchain platform they’re trying to develop is great but also fraught with technical challenges and difficult to scale for consumers. I think he’ll focus more on Square and crypto will be part of that,” said Christopher Brendler, an analyst at DA Davidson.

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© Thomson Reuters 2021

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Interested in cryptocurrency? We discuss all things crypto with WazirX CEO Nischal Shetty and WeekendInvesting founder Alok Jain on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

Cryptocurrency is an unregulated digital currency, not a legal tender and subject to market risks. The information provided in the article is not intended to be and does not constitute financial advice, trading advice or any other advice or recommendation of any sort offered or endorsed by NDTV. NDTV shall not be responsible for any loss arising from any investment based on any perceived recommendation, forecast or any other information contained in the article.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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