Is it Time to Give Up on Social Media Platforms?

Around 2014 (I don’t recall the exact year), I started a community on Google+ (yes, Google+) to share news related to the Holocaust, the German state policy, enacted between 1941 and 1945, to exterminate European Jews. The Holocaust resulted in the murder of  six million European Jews, which amounted to around two-thirds of the Jewish population of Europe. As a child of Holocaust survivors, my goal was to share news about the Holocaust with the hope that people will remember or learn about what happened so it isn’t repeated.

Given the nature of the topic, I was looking for a safe place to share Holocaust-related information. After looking around, I ended up starting a Google+ community that was open to any Google+ member after first requesting an invitation. The community, which started with just me, grew to over 300 members. It wasn’t a large group but it was a nice, supportive group of people who shared a lot of useful information.

I believe the community would have been bigger if I had set it up as a purely open community that anyone could join without first requesting membership. But I was concerned that neo-Nazis and others filled with hate would join. As moderator, I received many requests from neo-Nazis to join, including a request from a person calling himself “Adolf Hitler” and using a photo of Hitler as his profile picture. I declined such requests and reported them to Google. I am not sure what Google did with my reports but the community was always left in peace to fulfill its purpose.

On October 8, 2018, Google announced that it was shutting down the consumer version of Google+ in 2019 because “it has not achieved broad consumer or developer adoption.” Google explained that the “consumer version of Google+ currently has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds.”

I was disappointed because I enjoyed the community very much and met some nice people online. In addition, Google+ posts were beautifully presented with nice, large images when they were available. The community just worked.

I wasn’t sure what, if anything, to do next. I ended up putting time and energy into a Twitter (now X) account called Holocaust News. It grew modestly and now has nearly 2,000 members. I then added a free Substack newsletter, also called Holocaust News.

Two things raised concerns for me. The first was Elon Musk’s stewardship (if that is the right word) of Twitter, now X. See e.g., With antisemitic tweet, Elon Musk reveals his ‘actual truth’. X does not feel like an environment friendly and supportive to my cause. The second was Substack’s refusal to ban or demonetize Nazis. This led some newsletter authors, including me, to leave Substack. Ben Werdmuller offered an eloquent explanation, entitled Leaving the Nazi Bar, with which I agree.

Again, I am not sure what to do next. I still post to X but would like a better home for sharing Holocaust-related news. I am not inclined to start again on yet another social media platform, like Threads or Bluesky. If I am going to rebuild, I want to do it on a plot of the internet that belongs to me, not to a big corporation that can shut it down or manage it in a way that is inconsistent with my values and goals.

The leading candidates are Buttondown, self-hosted WordPress (with or without a Buttondown email newsletter) or, a nice community created by Manton Reece.

I’m open to reactions and suggestions.

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