Keeping up with Immigration News & Research: The Off-Twitter Edition
Elon Musk finally stepped into the role of Twitter CEO this week after months of delays, which Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway have been covering well on Pivot podcast. Musk has already fired top executives and promises to fire many more Twitter staff as part of his vision for improving Twitter, making the company more profitable, and implementing his principle for what he calls “free speech absolutism.”
It’s unclear what any of this will ultimately mean for the platform (if very much at all), but that hasn’t stopped many Twitter users from diversifying their social media platforms or some to leave Twitter altogether. I recently suspended my Facebook and Instagram accounts, mostly because it became clear that their algorithm was deprioritizing substantive posts—but I don’t find Facebook to be a very interesting player in the media space. Twitter on the other hand, like it or not, is the main player, by far, in the journalism and politics space and it’s unlikely to change any time soon.
So let’s talk about social media and alternatives to Twitter, specifically if you’re interested in immigration issues. Apologies up front that I won’t be able to cover resources outside of my own little universe, so please help me out by adding resources and comments below.
First, I started writing here on Substack about a year and a half ago very intentionally because I did not want everything on a single platform, whether that was Twitter, Facebook, or anything else. And since this is my favorite form of online engagement (short posts for a broad audience), nothing would change for me personally if Twitter burns to the ground tomorrow. So Substack is a great alternative, and you’ll like other great newsletter such as the Border Chronicle, Borderlines, and Webber Immigration News.
But what about actual social media platforms?
Mastodon, a decentralized social media platform that runs on open-source code, is the main one that people appear to be gravitating towards today. Shout out to my good friend Luna Vives for posting about this on Twitter.
I did sign up for Mastodon Social today and although the initial process is somewhat slower than usual at the moment due to incredibly high demand today, I’ve been impressed so far. Here’s a simple explanation of the platform. All the basics are there, you can edit your posts (!!!), and more people than I realized were already there (although perhaps not as engaged as they could be, but that might change now).
For those of you a bit squeamish about technical-looking things, note that there is an initial question you have to answer about which server to use—since the platform actually runs across many servers, each with their own communities. I used what appeared to be the most populous one: the “mastodon.social” server. But please understand that I have no clue what I’m talking about here; just giving you my initial process as a total newbie.
If you do try out Mastodon, you can find me here: https://mastodon.social/@austinkocher. This is what a user homepage looks like.
My plan is to cross-post over the next few weeks to test things out, so if you are on Mastodon and following me, you’ll get more or less the same resources I post on Twitter. I’m very curious to see what happens!
Okay, one more resource. You may not be aware that TRAC posts news about updated data and reports in our WhatsApp and Telegram announcement groups. I was inspired by DocumentedNY’s success with this approach and wanted to try it out for TRAC. So far it has worked quite well. You can join when you want and leave when you want, without any need for administrative approval.
What about you? How are you feeling about Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter? Are people overreacting or is this the start of a great splintering of social media platforms? I’m curious where people stand right now.
While we’re at it, I want to say “THANK YOU” to the over 1,100 readers who have signed up for this newsletter so far. Please do me a favor and tell more people about it online and in person. It’s important to me that we have free, accessible, research-based assessments of the immigration and refugee system and I’m committed to doing my part to make that happen.