Another day, another social media giant crushed by declining user growth, which will only accelerate next quarter, particularly in the US where it matters. Twitter's stock tanked by over 20%, joining Facebook in the bursting of the Tech Bubble 2.0.
Although growth has been plateau-ing for the past several years, it's really the post-2016 election climate that has driven so many users off of the sites, especially liberal women, who are the most sensitive to political messages they disagree with (most likely of all demographics to block, unfollow, unfriend, etc.).
It's more than just the content of the messages themselves, though: merely seeing someone's avatar and name reminds you of who the person supported in 2016, even if the content of their post is totally apolitical and mundane. "Another great day for grillin'! -- Margaritaville1957" "Yeah, and we ought to throw your ass on the grill for putting Putin's puppet in the White House -- Nursety Woman [blue wave emoji]".
And then there are the indelible associations that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram have with the most devious psy-op in world history, having been the sites via which the Kremlin tricked all those white working-class Obama voters in the Rust Belt to vote for the anti-NAFTA candidate. Indeed, who knows if those psy-ops ever ended? If the Russians are hell-bent on our destruction -- AND THEY ARE -- then they're only going to intensify their hijacking of America's favorite social media sites.
On social media, you just never know if you're interacting with a Russian-programmed bot, a real-life Kremlin apologist, or one of Putin's unwitting dupes -- who is nevertheless spreading enough desinformatziya to bring down the global order.
What's the only solution, then? Log off of social media altogether.
For, social media are defined by the activity of individuals voicing their views to a broad audience, and sharing the views of others. This makes it impossible for someone who doesn't want to come into contact with triggering views to simply avoid them. There are too many sources of triggering views, and too many channels through which they could reach a user -- sharing, re-tweeting, signal-boosting by liking, and so on and so forth.
But the Russiagaters cannot simply abandon political discussion entirely. They want to find refuge, not wander alone through the wilderness. They want a trusted specialist to make their shell-shocked brain feel better, not rely on their own personal rationalizations. And most of all, they want to make sure that the space is fortified against any brain-hurters from outside. They don't seek an open forum, but a closed therapist's office. They don't want a dispassionate debate moderator, but an "I'm there for you" advocate-doctor with a good bedside manner.
So, while Russiagate has emptied out social media, it has only swollen attendance at the digital therapy wards of liberal cable news shows, all housed in the hospital of MSNBC. According to the latest ratings, it is the only cable news channel to show growth in viewers year-over-year, while their competitors are declining, across all time slots. The doctors at CNN are too clinical and matter-of-fact in their bedside manner, turning off liberal patients, and would-be viewers of Fox no longer need their own nursing since their party has returned to power.
Unlike social media, no outside voices will ever reach the viewers on a cable news show. Producers may occasionally excerpt what their ideological enemies are saying, just to rile up the viewers for a brief moment before dropping the hammer on them. But by and large, content is strictly controlled by a handful of censors at the top level. And if an anchor ever tried to include outside voices, their show would get slammed in the ratings as viewers felt their brains hurt, disciplining the anchor back into the approved narrative framework.
Complementing the maternal care-home is the paternal justice-enforcer. Liberals want not only someone to nurse their wounds that have already been inflicted -- they want a big bad dude to protect them from the other big bad dudes who might harm them all over again in the future. Thus, Russiagaters are now the most staunch defenders of the FBI, CIA, and NSA, and they want these feds and spooks to appear every day on their cable news panels to reassure them that the men with guns are looking out for them.
The rise of the propaganda nexus -- the intel agencies interfacing with the news media -- is partly a supply-side phenomenon, as the manufacturers and the distributors of current affairs narratives have integrated their informational supply chains. But it is just as much a reflection of recent changes on the demand-side, as liberals with PTSD from the 2016 election have fled the relatively open forums of social media, and sought refuge in the closed-off hospital wards of cable news, where their only visitors are government agents who provide further emotional comfort with updates on the progress of hunting down their assailants.
The social media sector will collapse for good if it tries to imitate the business model of the propaganda nexus, or allows itself to be acquired outright by them. There already exists a mature industry of providing ideological safe spaces for politically triggered groups, and social media's interactivity from all users cuts directly against the goal of safe spaces.
No amount of shadowbanning from Twitter, blocking from Facebook and YouTube, or de-ranking from Google will ever match the total command-and-control insulation provided by the producers at centralized news outlets (whether TV, print, or online). The producers of news media -- whose content is not user-generated by a mass audience -- just prevent outsiders from having a voice at the outset, whereas social media has to allow everyone a voice, and then hire 10,000 censors to monitor and flag ideologically problematic posters, or rely on faulty algorithms for censorship.
There is no surviving that battle, so social media had better just count the shell-shocked liberals as a lost cause, and preserve an enjoyable forum-of-users experience for the vast majority who don't need Mommy Maddow and Daddy Mueller to comfort them every night before bedtime.