There seems to be a popular perception that muting keywords is a practicable alternative to CWs, and I think that's rooted in the fallacy that CWs are de facto mutes. But good, descriptive CWs help people make exceptions on a case-by-case basis, so that they can consider factors like "do I trust the person posting this?" or "is this local to me?" or even just "am I in the right headspace for this right now?" Mutes can never be that granular.l, which is why CWs give people more agency.

In my less generous moments, I think a lot of people tout "mutes > CWs" because they don't want the burden of helping others and want to shift that burden onto their audience, but I think a lot of us share similar values and just haven't all worked through how these features connect to those values. People often talk about CWs in terms of consent, but I prefer to think of them in terms of agency, and I want this network to lend people more agency than they'd get in other social media spaces.

Writing CWs is a little bit custom, but also a little bit art. If your CW is just "news" or "uspol," then sure, people aren't likely to click through. But a Portlander who would ignore a post CW'd just "news" may be more inclined expand one CW'd "news: public health, Portland".

Yes, there are ways to write CWs that implicitly tell people "keep scrolling," but the whole point is to give them some idea of what they're getting into by clicking expand. And sometimes, they'll want to get into it.

Again, that's about enhancing the agency of readers. It seems entirely likely to me that a message with a well-written CW can get more viewers (or, at least, more relevant viewers) than an un-CW'd message posted into a network where everyone relies heavily on muting to filter out content — precisely because people WILL sometimes click through when they have a good idea of what they're getting into. But for that to work, we have to build an atmosphere of trust and cooperation.


Hounding individual people to use CWs probably doesn't work. Using moderator actions to enforce them is likely overkill. Both, as we have seen, can turn ugly and/or perpetuate systemic injustices. CW use should be voluntary. (Cooperation, too, is a matter of agency.) I'm hoping that talking openly about the personal and social benefits will encourage more people to volunteer, but each person should make their own decisions.

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