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The amount of hate, spam and death threats I receive daily on Instagram and Twitter is unbelievable.
Social media can be toxic on many fronts, but as someone who deals with the controversial issues that I do, I have to live with this toxicity every day. I have to see these threats against my life and the lives of my family members. I have to wade through so much negativity just to find the good parts of something as widely used as social media.
I was an early user of Facebook and Twitter. I have watched social media platforms grow and shift, sometimes for the better, but often not. Although many of the people who support me discovered my work through online platforms, I’ve never thought of myself as any sort of social media personality. My life’s work is not making posts or creating trends, it is telling stories of injustice and fighting for radical change.
Social media has always only been a tool in which I can aid this fight for change.
Over the past few months, my following on all platforms has grown exponentially, and so has the hate. It’s gotten so bad that I have security with me and my family at all times. They stay parked outside of our home. They follow us every time we go anywhere.
A few days ago, without telling anyone or making a big deal of it, I decided to make my Instagram and Twitter private.
As I see it, the potential growth of those accounts does not outweigh the quality control issues. And let’s be real, I’ve been around for a long time. Chances are, if you don’t follow me now, you probably don’t rock with me or the things I stand for, and that’s okay. I have a community of people who do. I want to focus on strengthening that community, and building relationships with meaning.
I’m not gonna lie, there is a major tradeoff to having private accounts. People can no longer retweet things I say, or add my posts to their stories. But the amount of spam and hate I receive has been cut in half just in the past few days. The people who do follow me are no longer afraid to interact and comment on my posts, when before they could be attacked by social media spam bots.
Social media has started to feel like it did in the beginning, a place to connect with people who share your same passions, and help form communities that can have a real impact on the world.
On today’s episode, Shaun breaks down the give and take of having a private account, and how it has shifted the way he looks at media activism forever.