social media

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The wrong problem.

Some of you might remember how, back when we used email accounts that were from our ISPs, or from our work, we used to get a lot of junk mail and spam. The majority used their own desktop clients, and in order to avoid the junk mail, we had to add plugins and additional software to our desktop clients. We had to keep upgrading our junk filters to fight the madness. The email providers and ISPs turned managing junk mail into our problem.

Eventually, Google came along with Gmail and started killing spam at the cloud level. Over a period of time, a whole network layer intelligence developed around spam and junk mail. It allowed the big email providers to come together and collectively hunt down the sources — and while not entirely successful, it was a good fight that has given us a semblance of control over our email inboxes. Almost! […]

What Twitter and Facebook are trying to do [with bot accounts and misinformation] reminds me of those early days of email. It’s the same old mistake: Adding labels is not the answer.

Om Malik on the fake internet.

Malik, of course, points out that the main reason “traditional” social networks are seemingly incapable of handling bots is that they’re financially incentivized not to; bots drive user numbers and engagement, i.e. the sole method by which social media sites make money, via the commoditization and sale of user information and behavior to third-parties.

2020-08-23T20:41:48+10:003rd September, 2020|Tags: social media, tech|

Melted peach.

Privately owned social media websites are not bound by the First Amendment, Ninth Circuit rules.

One to pull out the next time you have to argue with That Asshole, for whatever reason.

2020-07-31T08:52:36+10:0015th August, 2020|Tags: social media|


How to have a good time on Twitter:

  1. Delete Twitter.

Failing that, here’s a suggest blocklist of terms.

Relatedly: While I no longer actively post on Twitter, I do (confession) have a specific list of political commentators I use to keep up with The Great Horse Race. Realising that I could just straight-up block accounts that show me ads, in which case I’d never seen their ads again in my timeline, 100% improved the experience of indulging my vice…

2020-03-03T08:25:42+11:0027th June, 2020|Tags: social media, twitter|

Team no-one.

The Section 230 versus Executive Order… thing is such a team no-one situation. Trump is a monster. Big social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook are actively harmful monopolies and should be regulated out of existence. Section 230 itself is… fine, if flawed. If this EO actually happens1 literally the only effect it will have is driving social media companies off shore. By which I mean “killing current US-centric on-shore social media companies” and “opening the market to for e.g. ByteDance.”2

On the other hand, this pretty much has the potential to put the GOP exactly where they don’t want to be, i.e. mediating between Cult45 on one side and billionaires on the other. Their voting base versus their paychecks. So, like… again, who knows.

2020 needs to just… not. For a little while. Y’know?

Edit: Also, this. It is literally just a bottomless well of petty, vindictive cruelty…

  1. Normally I would be fairly confident in saying it wouldn’t, but with the Republicans having stacked the judiciary with their patsies… who even knows any more. []
  2. Given that social media has no business model other than “selling users to advertisers” and that the exact mechanisms of how current social media companies do this are illegal in basically every developed nation other than the US, it is… difficult to see how a New Twitter would emerge in, say, Europe. But China is currently deep into its soft power push—ref. TikTok, Fortnite, the sudden explosion of cdrama fandom in the English-speaking world, et al.—i.e. perfectly positioned to move in and take over a lagging market. And, like, all your vaunted “free speech” in that context? Yeah. Good fucking luck. []
2020-05-29T07:34:45+10:0029th May, 2020|Tags: politics, social media, twitter|

Delete your Twitter.

Your regularly scheduled reminder that Twitter is a cesspit that actively makes the world worse and that there are significantly better alternatives.

Disclaimer: I still have a Twitter account though it’s mostly a placeholder. I use it mostly for promotion and following a bunch of journalists as a kind of lazy cross-publication newsfeed.1 But all casual/social/personal stuff goes to Mastodon.

  1. And desperately wish there was a better alternative for the latter. []
2020-05-27T10:57:44+10:0027th May, 2020|Tags: mastodon, social media, tech, twitter|

It’s not “just the internet”…

Very likely the first case of someone convicted for intentionally triggering an epileptic seizure over the internet.

2020-01-29T09:18:36+11:0022nd May, 2020|Tags: cw: harassment, social media|


Of course Giphy is going to retain its own brand. If they renamed it to “Facebook Tracking Pixels”, usage might drop off. Think about all the messaging apps that don’t offer Facebook integration for security/privacy reasons […] where Giphy images appear. You know, like Apple’s Messages. Well, now Facebook has tracking pixels in them.

John Gruber on acquisitions.

I know it’s kind of conceptually funny to think of Facebook getting smacked with antitrust lawsuits over, like, buying a website of dank memes… but this is the reason that it’s Big Srs, Actually.

2020-05-18T12:12:09+10:0018th May, 2020|Tags: privacy, social media, tech|


That smart important take blasted out in a Twitter thread is going to quickly sink down though the chummy social media seas into the deep never to be seen again. Yes, some people might bookmark It. Others might bookmark the thread reader version. But this is no substitute for hauling those important thoughts out of the private social seas on to dry land of your own Blogging Island. Safe. Permanent. Secure. And most importantly — Linkable and Searchable.

The reality is, by the time the Labour leadership election roles round. The only content that people will immediately be able to find will be the takes in the mainstream press. And this is a major part of the problem.

Yes, the Chakrabortty take today in the Guardian is worth reading. But it isn’t the only piece/take in this moment that will be worth finding and re-sharing in 6 months.

It might unfortunately turn out to be the ONLY take that you can find that was useful reading produced in this moment. Written by someone and broadcast by an entity that already has a large platform. The mainstream media cannot continue to own the historical and indexible record.

It’s vital that more than ever we build out an independent media. The first step is to make your own media independent.

Start a damn blog.

Jay Springett wants you to start a blog.

Somewhat ironic that this take is already “out-of-date” by the time my blog queue will get around to posting it but, like. That’s kinda exactly the point. It’s still findable, and relevant, and there. Because it’s on a blog, and forms part of the historical record of a particular moment. And just because that moment has passed doesn’t mean the thoughts and emotions it elicited are no longer worth reading, and remembering, and learning from.

The constant ephemera of social media takes is damaging; to our polity and our discourse, to our fandoms and our political systems.

The history of your thoughts matters. Start a goddamn blog.

2020-01-22T08:36:19+11:0017th May, 2020|Tags: blogging, culture, social media|


If you’ve ever wondered, “I wonder why I don’t see more decapitation videos randomly on YouTube?” and also “I wonder if that’s because a huge army of underpaid, over-traumatized moderators is watching and removing them first” then ding ding ding you are correct.

2020-01-22T08:02:16+11:0015th May, 2020|Tags: social media|
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