That makes sense. I'm highly avoidant of discussion with people if I think they're likely to write me off as being "against free speech" if I don't prioritize it at the same level or the same way they do, because information spreads and I think those discussions are at the edges of groups that insincerely claim interest in 'free speech' to mask their interest in promoting hate speech -- but I'm paranoid, and extremely so.
The people I've known who were harassed on Twitter usually had a Twitter for a while, became a 'known quantity' in some minor fashion, and then promptly had packs of hyenas responding/attacking their Twitter with garden-variety threats, demands, etc., as well as the more advanced asstrolls who wanted to sealion away constantly. I've seen it play out a number of times for others on there that I wasn't personally connected to, as well.
I think most harassed people who think they have no recourse will simply fall silent and go elsewhere, in general, and so it's easy for admins/mods of any given social media setup to assume the problem is 'complainers' (i.e., victims).
As for Mastodon -- I don't regularly engage those people in debate (I often don't feel the need to take the risk, as I see it, that discussion with them will connect me more closely with some level of organized harassers versus the slim chance that they will be willing to hear arguments dispassionately concerning a topic they are passionate about).
But I do talk about the topic, and the visibility is a risk I take specifically because I have had good experiences on Masto:
- with people who start becoming overzealous/edging into abusive terminology getting responses from 'bystanders' who weren't part of the conversation previously
- with people who discuss things and are willing to accept that perhaps they're wrong or simply see certain things differently
The former is rare, IME, on Twitter. The latter is, from those outside people I already consider trusted to some degree, something I think I've seen one or two times ever.
I fully understand I don't really use social media the way 'most people' use it, but I suspect these phenomena are relevant to others as well in making these choices, albeit less consciously.