social media

/Tag: social media

Unintended consequences.

I wrote the law that allows sites to be unfettered free speech marketplaces. I wrote that same law, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, to provide vital protections to sites that didn’t want to host the most unsavory forms of expression. The goal was to protect the unique ability of the internet to be the proverbial marketplace of ideas while ensuring that mainstream sites could reflect the ethics of society as a whole.

In general, this has been a success — with one glaring exception. I never expected that internet CEOs would fail to understand one simple principle: that an individual endorsing (or denying) the extermination of millions of people, or attacking the victims of horrific crimes or the parents of murdered children, is far more indecent than an individual posting pornography.

Ron Wyden (D-OR) on the horror he hath wrought.

More specifically, Section 230 is the portion of the Act that explicitly states social media platforms (among others) are not publishers and therefore not liable for content posted by users to their sites.

Wyden’s point is that the whole “lulz freeze peach!” crowd is fundamentally wrong; freedom of expression on social media platforms is protected not by the constitution (i.e. the First Amendment), but by legislature. Which, of course, can be changed, limited, or revoked at any time. Without Section 230, everyone who’s ever been the target of, say, a Twitter hate mob could sue Twitter for facilitating it and that, fundamentally, the aggregate of all these lawsuits would put the company out of business.

It’s worth pointing out that Wyden thinks this would be a bad thing. YMMV.

2019-02-19T07:17:34+00:0019th February, 2019|Tags: culture, law, social media, tech|

Corporate government.

The government-thinking has a secondary appeal to executive teams [of social media sites]. If their site is a country, that makes them the ruling class. It makes the CEO the president (or dictator). And again, squinting, it can kind of feel that way. Running a company, like managing a community, is literally a power trip. You can do things your members can’t, including punishing those members. Power, even tiny power, can be addictive.

But it’s not true. None of it. Your product is not a country. You are not a government. Your CEO is not a president. And, worse, thinking that way is damaging to the community, disastrous for the company, and may just be ruining the world.

Derek Powazek on false equivalences.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The widespread conflation of private platforms and businesses with public (i.e. government) services and infrastructure is like the Original Sin of late-stage capitalism. This is what causes people to cling desperately like Twitter and Facebook, under the assumption that angrily @ing Jack Dorsey is somehow equivalent to making phonecalls to political representatives. This is what causes people to say things like they “believe in” Facebook and “won’t give up on it”, won’t try out new or equivalent services, because they feel some kind of strange, pseudo-patriotism towards the platform. And this is what causes those people to think attitudes like that are somehow valorous.

Spoiler alert: a company is not a government, nor a country, nor a polity. The fact that you think it is is a lie capitalism has taught you, because the reality is the sorts of actions that work on governments (e.g. democracy, accountability) don’t work against corporations—who are accountable to their shareholders/board, not their consumers/product—and yet the foundational conceit of the nation-state (specifically, patriotism) is immensely profitable in the sense that it keeps consumers locked into a particularly brand…

2018-08-25T12:49:53+00:0030th January, 2019|Tags: culture, social media, tech|


But the imperative to “connect people” lacks the one ingredient essential for being a good citizen: Treating individual human beings as sacrosanct. To Facebook, the world is not made up of individuals, but of connections between them. The billions of Facebook accounts belong not to “people” but to “users,” collections of data points connected to other collections of data points on a vast Social Network, to be targeted and monetized by computer programs.

There are certain things you do not in good conscience do to humans. To data, you can do whatever you like.

Nikhil Sonnad on social media immorality.

2018-08-17T14:09:44+00:0025th January, 2019|Tags: culture, social media, tech|

Uncommon ground.

There’s a lot of discussion about how we need to reach out and talk to people who disagree with us – how we need to extend an olive branch and find common ground – and that’s a lovely sentiment, but in order for that to work, the other party needs to be … well, not a raging asshole. Insisting that people continue to reach out to their abusers in hopes that they will change suggests that the abuse is somehow in the victim’s hands to control.

Geraldine DeRuiter tried feeding trolls.

Obviously content warning at the article, which has screenshots of the abusive messages on Twitter.

2018-08-07T09:22:22+00:0023rd January, 2019|Tags: culture, cw: harassment, social media|


The beauty of getting someone else to do your infrastructure for you: last night while I was sleeping, was updated to Mastodon v2.7. This release has a bunch of new features, the main one being the directory (pictured above).

To say the directory was an, ahem, controversial feature would be butting it mildly, so the end result is opt-in via a setting on your profile.

Mastodon edit profile screen with the directory opt-in settin circled.

Opting in to the directory.

It’ll be interesting to see how this feature evolves, and in particular how it impacts the use of things like content tagging. But for now… there it is!

On the other hand, the main thing I’m jazzed for in 2.7 are the new moderation features, specifically the ability to send people narky emails from the UI when they do naughty things.1 Which, of course, no one is doing, because pretty much everyone on the instance is too nice. But, yanno. One day!2

  1. Or, yanno. ~gentle admin reminders~. ^
  2. And in the meantime… I just suspend the spambots. Spambots don’t get emails, they just get banhammered. ^
2019-01-22T09:29:13+00:0022nd January, 2019|Tags:, mastodon, social media|


So here’s the thing:

  1. The blogosphere was not always better than the contemporary social web;
  2. The blogosphere felt like it was getting better in a way that the contemporary social web does not.

Jason Kottke on the old web.

So this post by and about Super Mainstream Tech Bloggers… but I also find it interesting in light of the conversations around platform fandom is currently having…

2019-02-04T08:35:04+00:0022nd January, 2019|Tags: blogging, internet, social media|

Fandom crystal ball, 2019 edition.

On the future of fandom.

Obviously I have a vested interest in this, and that is “federated platforms, duh!”

That being said—and in line with owlmoose’s observations—there aren’t currently many great options for federated media platforms, though hopefully projects like Peertube and Pixelfed will help in that regard…

2019-01-17T10:36:03+00:0017th January, 2019|Tags: fandom, social media|

The decentralised web.

Interesting interview with Eugen Rochko, a.k.a. Gargron the creator of Mastodon, on the growing resurgence of the decentralised, federated web.

2019-01-13T11:41:56+00:0013th January, 2019|Tags: mastodon, privacy, social media, tech|

Oh Pillowfort, no.

Pillowfort… wut u doin’, man?

(With original credit here.)

Edited to add: From reports by other users, it seems Pillowfort isn’t doing any robust sanitization on usernames at all, allowing things like slashes and period and spaces that break their own UI. This is… not good. Weren’t they supposed to’ve done a “security audit” after their hack a few weeks back?

2018-12-20T09:01:46+00:0020th December, 2018|Tags: fandom, infosec, pillowfort, social media, tech|

Facebook is still garbage.

This seems… not particularly great. Even by Facebook standards.

Ironically, I finally deleted both Facebook and Messenger off my phone last night (I never use them, but still had the apps) and ahahaha I do not regret my life choices!

2018-12-19T15:35:52+00:0019th December, 2018|Tags: facebook, privacy, social media|