Updated Aug 30, 2018

Why a conservative social network would fail

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Twitter and Facebook CEOs Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg, in their wildest dreams, would love the Donald Trump Jr. notion of "one of the two Silicon Valley conservatives" would start up a conservative social network.

  • Don Jr. tweeted Thursday: "Heck, I’d even support an unbiased version of any of them. I’m not looking for an echo chamber, I’m just looking for a level playing field. No more bias! No more BS!" [Update]

The bottom line: You can't create a Fox News for social. Snap stock is flat because it's struggling to grow, with just 188 million daily active users. "Hannity," by contrast, the most-watched show on Fox News, attracts a mere 3 million viewers. For a conservative social network to succeed, it would need orders of magnitude more reach than Fox News. Which isn't going to happen.

Between the lines: Twitter's single biggest problem is harassment, much of which is driven by right-wing trolls. Dorsey would be elated were the likes Mike Cernovich to voluntarily join the already-exiled Milo somewhere (anywhere!) else.

The big picture: Here are the four main reasons a Facebook for conservatives (or liberals) is not going to happen.

  1. Most people are not primarily political animals, not even now, in the age of Trump. Instagram has become a runaway success precisely because it contains almost zero political content. Almost nobody wants to join an explicitly political social network.
  2. There's no sport in spreading right-wing memes without triggering the libs. That's the whole point!
  3. If the right abandoned Twitter and Facebook, it would lose its ability to complain about censorship. It would be much easier, then, for the platforms to say "if you don't like it here, why don't you just leave."
  4. Financially, a new political social network is a non-starter. Many people have tried to create alternatives to Twitter and Facebook (remember Ello? Peach? Mastodon?); none of them have got off the ground, because they can't reach the necessary scale. That includes Gab, a Twitter for conservatives which has failed to create traction.

As Axios's Dan Primack says: "It's one thing to change the channel from CNN to Fox, but quite another to leave the platform where friends/family post their baby pictures, plan events, etc. Some of us may live our real lives within partisan echo chambers, but most don't."

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 665,164 — Total deaths: 30,852 — Total recoveries: 140,225.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 124,665 — Total deaths: 2,191 — Total recoveries: 1,095.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump announces new travel advisories for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, but rules out quarantine enforcement. Per the CDC, residents of those states must now "refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days," with the exception of critical infrastructure industry workers.
  4. State updates: Alaska is latest state to issue a stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month and has moved its presidential primary to June 23. Some Midwestern swing voters who backed Trump's handling of the virus less than two weeks ago are balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter.
  5. World updates: In Spain, over 1,400 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. 🚀 Space updates: OneWeb filed for bankruptcy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  7. Hollywood: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have returned to U.S. after being treated for coronavirus.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Coronavirus updates: Global death toll tops 30,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 30,000 people around the world — with Italy reporting over 10,000 deaths, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: The number of deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. surpassed 2,000 on Saturday. The United States leads the world in confirmed coronavirus infections — more than 124,000 by early Sunday. The number of those recovered from the virus in the U.S. passed the 1,000-mark on Saturday evening.

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Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

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The big pig picture: President Trump has called the antiviral drug "promising," but the results of six clinical trials on this investigational medicine are still being conducted, so its effectiveness the treatment of the novel coronavirus has yet to be proved. The World Health Organization is involved in the tests.

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