How Social Media Rewards Anti-Gun Ignorance

In a recernt Twitter we noted Senator Ben Cardin, who represents Maryland, did what politicians do with alarming regularity. He said something incredibly stupid. In public. For all the world to see.

You can see the tweet above, which, after much ridicule has been deleted from the Senator’s Twitter account.

What’s once again obvious here is that another anti-gun politician doesn’t know crap from apple butter when it comes to guns. Normally, people with anything approaching a clue will call for bans on “high-capacity” magazines, for ammunition purchase background checks, or to outlaw scary accessories like bump stocks and pistol braces.

It seems obvious, though, that Cardin, or his social media staffer (or both), doesn’t know what any of those things mean. He (or they) just threw some words up that they figured would sound good to the average ignorant anti-gunners to whom the Senator likes to pander.

As a result, they somehow ended up calling for a ban on something called “high-ammo stocks.”

For those of us who are actually familiar with guns, our gut reaction to that kind of ignorance goes something like this . . .

While it’s certainly fun to make fun of socially and developmentally disabled anti-gunners, the sad truth is that these kinds of posts — as inane as they are — still manage to gain traction online. Between the algorithms used by social media and the way anti-gunners behave, the kind of idiocy Cardin displayed actually ends up being rewarded.

The Algorithm Favors Mistakes

In most cases, someone like Cardin says something idiotic online and nothing comes of it. Why? Because most anti-gun people have very few followers and their dumb message just doesn’t spread very far. Even people like Senator Cardin usually don’t have posts reach beyond a fraction of their following, largely because the algorithm just doesn’t put your post up for others to see.

Like all social media sites and video sites, X optimizes what shows up on your screen to try to feed you content you’ll engage with. Why? Simple. Because the websites make more ad revenue the more time you spend on the site. There can be interesting and high-value posts people put a lot of work into that go nowhere because they aren’t addictive enough to get people to stick around.

One thing people have found on YouTube, and then on other sites, is that intentionally making a mistake increases engagement. Things like misspelled words or minor factual errors often inspire a bunch of people to comment to tell you what you got wrong and what an idiot you are.

As a result, many accounts have started intentionally introducing minor errors to goose their engagement. The algorithm doesn’t know the difference between “Right on!” and “You spelled that wrong, moron,” so posts or videos with screw-ups end up getting an accidental reward in boosted views for being wrong and getting the “ackchyually” crowd riled up.

A Distorted Virtue Signal

Another kind of thing that turns these idiot posts into something useful is that their side not only doesn’t care, but may even find it to be a good thing when someone is clueless about guns. That was highlighted by SNW contributor Kostas Moros.

While they get an engagement boost for being wrong and being corrected, the intended audience for the post loves it. When gun people get annoyed, that’s a big plus for the red-shirted wine moms.

It Isn’t 4D Chess, They Really Are Stupid

Don’t assume that I think that Cardin’s tweet was some kind of masterful gambit. The anti-gun crowd stumbles into engagement success, but it’s highly unlikely they actually did it on purpose. After all, Cardin deleted the tweet after being mercilessly ridiculed, so clearly he can’t pull a Pee Wee and claim he meant to do that.

The truth is that Cardin really did slam his naughty bits in the door and it only got a lot of engagement because of his ignorance. Seeing that it worked out, though, means there’s no incentive to be better and learn more about guns, so they’ll keep on doing what they’re doing no matter how dumb it is.

While the slightly smarter people on the anti-gun side would love to claim Cardin’s move was really intricate 4D chess, it wasn’t.

Senator Ben Cardin D-MD
The clueless Senator Ben Cardin (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

One thing this kerfuffle shows us is that social media needs to improve. It shouldn’t be so easy to game the algorithm with stupid content that it spreads and more people stumble into it. Instead of being platforms that are built to spread lies and ignorance, social media sites should do more to penalize bad actors and people who are willfully ignorant.

X/Twitter has begun to do that by demonetizing posts that get community noted, but YouTube, Facebook, and the others still suffer from the problem. Don’t look for them to do much to change that any time soon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *