Reasonable Social Media Policy Makes Heads Explode
You are required and encouraged to actively promote your title on social media.
We do not condone the use of block bots/blind blocking/block chains or any other kind of program or practice that is used to block thousands of people, blindly, en masse.
We acknowledge that unpleasant experiences through social media, sadly do occur, and creators can block/mute individuals if they have had those unwanted and poor experiences with them. But due to the fact that you would be part of a creative team at Alterna and a team of retailers would need to be able to confidently sell your comics to as many people as possible, we have adopted a policy that discourages the use of anything that would directly affect our stance of full inclusion for readers and creators. We have readers of all walks of life and it is paramount to us, that we encourage, promote, and stand by our stance, that comics are for everyone.
As a creator, if you have poor experiences with anyone in relation to your work – online or otherwise – and feel that you are being threatened, please reach out to us and we’ll do everything within our power to work with you on how to handle this situation.
We want all of our readers AND our creators to feel welcome.
The social media policy change no doubt came with the concern of the increased use of block-bots over the past several years. While proponents say the blockbots help to protect them from harassment and abuse online, critics claim that it represents the social media equivalent to dropping a tactical nuke on a crowded city in order to get five targets who may (or may not) be mixed in the crowd. Certainly, you’ll get your targets, but you’ll also likely get hundreds, if not thousands of innocent people in the process. Generally, block-bots scrape the names of Twitter user who follow one or more individuals who are deemed problematic by the curator of the bot.
The problem is that in doing so, many innocent (and confused) Twitter users end up caught in the crossfire. Confused, and sometimes hurt that someone would block them without ever even bothering to understand what they’re about. Furthermore, journalists and public figures have noted that they end up on block-lists for following people with controversial opinions who are legitimate figures of public interest– like the current President of the United States.
I personally feel that block-bots don’t do much to stop legitimate internet harassers, and likely do more to contribute to the political polarization occurring across many subcultures today than to help. Peter Simeti of Alterna Comics appears to have agreed, and so he took a principled stance on the use of block-bots.
An article by Bounding into Comics shed light on the immediate response by many users of Twitter block-bots, and their response was crystal-clear. Not only will they continue to use Block-bots, but some curators will add both Alterna Comics and Peter Simeti to their persona non grata lists, likening the policy as de facto support of a hate movement, and widening the gap between the so-called regressive left and… well, everyone who takes issue with the sometimes extreme measures they deem appropriate to deal with their critics, including, but not limited to outright referring to them as white supremacists despite any supporting evidence.
There’s just one problem: Peter Simeti was not taking sides. If anything, his principled stance was an attempt to encourage the current culture war in comics to calm down by ensuring communication could continue between the two extremes active in the comic book subculture. As anyone familiar with the escalation of violence knows, if you remove communication as an option to settle disagreements, there’s only one place left to go.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, when CBR reported on the social media policy, they did so with a level of truthiness worthy of Bill Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal. The article was highly contradictory, both at once showing Simeti explaining that creators could still manually block people they deemed harassers, and alleging that his decision was seen to be forcing creators to become victims of harassment if they continued to work for Alterna.
What makes matters worse is that it appears CBR didn’t reach out to Simeti for comment to share his own side of the story, making their piece appear to be entirely a hit piece. I understand deadlines and getting things out in a timely fashion as much as the next blogger. I too have failed to reach out to someone I was critical of for comment at the publication of an article as well. But upon sleeping and realizing my mistake, I reached out immediately. As of the writing of this article, there appears to have been no progress in CBR’s reaching out to Simeti for comment, which suggests to me that they don’t intend to.
Regardless, the fallout from Alterna’s new social media policy has had a crippling effect on the state of discourse in comics. While I completely agree with the policy, and Alterna’s right to enforce it, it sometimes makes me miss the era of receiving death threats for suggesting Wolverine could beat Batman.