social media

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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|

What seemed all unknowing and candid.

There was something strange, I said, about the racial aspect of Instagram Face—it was as if the algorithmic tendency to flatten everything into a composite of greatest hits had resulted in a beauty ideal that favored white women capable of manufacturing a look of rootless exoticism. “Absolutely,” Smith said. “We’re talking an overly tan skin tone, a South Asian influence with the brows and eye shape, an African-American influence with the lips, a Caucasian influence with the nose, a cheek structure that is predominantly Native American and Middle Eastern.” Did Smith think that Instagram Face was actually making people look better? He did. “People are absolutely getting prettier,” he said. “The world is so visual right now, and it’s only getting more visual, and people want to upgrade the way they relate to it.”

This was an optimistic way of looking at the situation. I told Smith that I couldn’t shake the feeling that technology is rewriting our bodies to correspond to its own interests—rearranging our faces according to whatever increases engagement and likes. “Don’t you think it’s scary to imagine people doing this forever?” I asked.

Jia Tolentino on Instagram Face.

I mean, on the one hand, as a post-/transhumanist at heart I’m all for people modifying their bodies in whatever ways they want. On the other, as Tolentino quotes elsewhere in the article (from philosopher Heather Widdows): Choice cannot make an unjust or exploitative practice or act somehow, magically, just or non-exploitative

2020-01-16T09:10:58+11:0013th May, 2020|Tags: culture, social media|

Weaponized dunking.

Asymmetric advertising is content that is designed to hijack a user’s social media feed, to become amplified on the platform. The rise of fake news in 2016 is an example of asymmetric advertising in action, with outlandish or hilarious headlines encouraging political opponents to share that material, if just to point out its absurdity. This served a purpose. A political opponent likely has a smaller crossover following compared to a political ally, and so by hijacking the former’s feed, you get more eyeballs on the content. This is only half the strategy, however. By being amplified, the content is increasingly likely to appear in the feeds of users who are out-of-the-loop and will take it at face value, while the increased scrutiny galvanises the existing base to support the post.

By being built-to-break, asymmetric advertising turns opposition on its head, allowing the message to seep through.

Stuart Mills knows the propaganda is coming from inside your feed.

Tl;dr stop reposting bad content just to “dunk” on it, because all you’re actually doing is helping it spread further, which was the intentional strategy all along.

2020-01-06T09:55:38+11:0010th April, 2020|Tags: politics, social media|

Facebookian excuse.

Amazon doesn’t sell cigarettes. Whole Foods doesn’t sell cigarettes. One could argue that this is a Maoist form of overreach, a repudiation of the system of free enterprise, a brazen attempt to enact central planning on a terrifying scale. One could argue that a single person—Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, a gatekeeper among gatekeepers—should not be in a position to decide what average American citizens can or can’t do with their bodies. One could argue that the inalienable rights of smokers, or of tobacco companies, are being violated. But nobody makes these arguments. It seems perfectly natural that Bezos chooses not to sell tobacco. It’s possible that this reflects his principled belief that some things are not worth profiting from, that even world-conquering companies can make moral distinctions when the stakes are clear enough. More likely, it’s a straightforward cost-benefit decision. In any case, it has little to do with gauzy abstractions about freedom.

Andrew Marantz on excuses.

This is, of course, an analogy for Facebook et al.’s continued insistence that it would be a “violation of free speech” to, for example, kick antivaxers or neo-Nazis off their platforms…

2020-01-06T08:54:36+11:004th April, 2020|Tags: culture, facebook, politics, social media, tech|