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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

Kids’ screen time up 50% during pandemic

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

When the coronavirus lockdowns started in March, kids tech firm SuperAwesome found that screen time was up 50%. Nearly a year later, that percentage hasn't budged, according to new figures from the firm.

Why it matters: For most parents, pre-pandemic expectations around screen time are no longer realistic. The concern now has shifted from the number of hours in front of screens to the quality of screen time.

In photos: D.C. and U.S. states on alert for pre-inauguration violence

National Guard troops stand behind security fencing with the dome of the U.S. Capitol Building behind them, on Jan. 16. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Security has been stepped up in Washington, D.C., and state capitols across the U.S. as authorities brace for potential violence this weekend.

Driving the news: Following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by some supporters of President Trump, the FBI has said there could be armed protests in D.C. and in all 50 state capitols in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

17 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The new Washington

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Axios subject-matter experts brief you on the incoming administration's plans and team.