On the one hand, this is a hilariously unflattering profile of Twitter. On the other… I’m not sure I’m su-uu-uu-uper okay with the whole “glass cliff” vibe of blaming (female) head of Trust & Safety for, like, the entirely of Twitter’s Nazi problem. So… yanno. There’s that.
Twitter on shadowbanning. My favourite part is this (emphasis added):
We do not shadow ban. You are always able to see the tweets from accounts you follow (although you may have to do more work to find them, like go directly to their profile). And we certainly don’t shadow ban based on political viewpoints or ideology.
We do rank tweets and search results. We do this because Twitter is most useful when it’s immediately relevant. These ranking models take many signals into consideration to best organize tweets for timely relevance.
In other words, “We don’t shadowban… except when we totally do (because we’re too chickenshit to actually moderate our platform properly).”
Polite reminder in these turbulent times that Mastodon is totally a thing.
Apparently Twitter is killing third-party apps:
After June 19th, 2018, “streaming services” at Twitter will be removed. This means two things for third-party apps:
- Push notifications will no longer arrive
- Timelines won’t refresh automatically
If you use an app like Talon, Tweetbot, Tweetings, or Twitterrific, there is no way for its developer to fix these issues.
So much WTFery but, let’s face it, this has been coming for a while now; Twitter has no way of monetizing other than by serving ads, and the reason people use third-party Twitter clients is they don’t serve ads. See also: every decision Twitter has made re. “algorithmic feeds” and the like.1
But, yanno hey. Whenever Twitter is a trashfire just remember, there’s always Mastodon…
- See also see also: Tumblr, which went through a similar thing when it killed off the xkit mobile app. [↩]
Jack Dorsey has time to shop for slim-cut “Stay Woke” shirts but apparently it was a low priority problem to learn what abuse on Twitter looked like and filter it out. Twitter-the-company is made up of people that have consistently made poor, self-serving decisions while patting themselves on the back for making the world more connected. Well, fuck you all. You gluttons helped put us all here and now suddenly you might come up with an algorithm to spot Nazis? Here’s an idea to put on your fucking Trello board: Look for avatars with swastikas on day one. Take day two off to recover from your code bash hangover. Day three you can look for accounts that mostly post negative sentiments (using a Python library that’s five years old) and then map their connections to find another Nazi pool-party. On day four, take another break. You deserve a rest for waiting a decade to do even the smallest amount of engineering work to make the world better. Day five might be busy while your executives are explaining to congress why you actively assisted a foreign government to spread disinformation during the US election. Also, enjoy your weekend you fucks.
Gabe Weatherhead on leaving Twitter.
My “moral compromise” position with Twitter is that, a) I don’t use their official (ad-showing) clients, and b) I remove my content from their services after a period of a few months. These are, I will admit, imperfect reactions when, really? I should just bail on the platform altogether…
[T]he breaking point for me wasn’t the trolls themselves (if I have learned anything from the dark side of Twitter, it is how to feel nothing when a frog calls you a cunt) – it was the global repercussions of Twitter’s refusal to stop them. The white supremacist, anti-feminist, isolationist, transphobic “alt-right” movement has been beta-testing its propaganda and intimidation machine on marginalised Twitter communities for years now – how much hate speech will bystanders ignore? When will Twitter intervene and start protecting its users? – and discovered, to its leering delight, that the limit did not exist. No one cared. Twitter abuse was a grand-scale normalisation project, disseminating libel and disinformation, muddying long-held cultural givens such as “racism is bad” and “sexual assault is bad” and “lying is bad” and “authoritarianism is bad”, and ultimately greasing the wheels for Donald Trump’s ascendance to the US presidency. Twitter executives did nothing.
Lindy West on leaving Twitter.
I still use Twitter–it’s where most of the book writing community hangs out, for better or worse–but my posts there “auto-delete”1 after a month.
- Scare quotes for two reasons: firstly because they don’t delete themselves, I have a connected service that does it for me. And secondly because Twitter never really “deletes” anything; they’re removed from your timeline but are still floating around in the backend and can still be dug up by certain APIs. [↩]
Internally, employees have long raised questions about whether Twitter was a media company — a broadcast platform that should be governed by content standards and practices similar to a a television network — or a piece of the internet’s infrastructure, like an ISP, that should remain open and free.
“If Twitter is the pulse of the planet, then you’re in the realm of Verizon,” one former senior employee said. “And you don’t tell Verizon that they have to police the words and topics coming in over their phone lines. I think part of what exacerbated the abuse issue for so long is that there’s an absence of a clear thesis from Twitter.”
Inside the “honeypot for assholes”.
This. Right here; this is the problem.
Let’s be clear: proprietary publishing platforms, like Twitter, are not infrastructure. In fact, their walled-garden existence is antithetical to every principle of internet infrastructure, primarily interoperability and open standards. The fact that anyone can even float the idea that something like Twitter could possibly construe “infrastructure” just goes to show how far up its own ass most of tech current is.
I should point out that this article is old, and pre-dates Twitter’s more recent bannings and other anti-harassment measures. The fact that Twitter only started doing this after its brand became so toxic Disney pulled out of sale talks is pretty much Silicon Valley in a nutshell.
Say something [on Twitter] about feminism or race, or sea lions and you’d find yourself inundated by the same trite responses from multitudes. Complain about it, and they turn nasty, abusing you, calling in their friends to join in. Your phone becomes useless under the weight of notifications; you can’t see your friends support amongst the flood.
Twitter has become the hate speech wing of the free speech party.
–Kevin Marks on the fall of Twitter.
Marks also lists some alternatives to Twitter, such as Known and Quirell, both of which create semi-private social media networks and neither of which can replace the reach and discoverability of Twitter at its “best”.
Marks doesn’t mention my personal favourite (and now sadly dead) un-Twitter service, which was App.net. App.net was infamous for a while as the Twitter for “people with $50” (you originally had to pay $50 for an account), and has struggled to find its feet ever since. Technically, the Twitter-ish aspect of it is only one part of its service, and that “What is App.net?” confusion is, I think, part of the reason it never really took off.
They are lifting the spider ban
4 our friends
Who make silk
In rear ends
Theres no more spider ban
— Panic!AtTheDiscourse (@a_dog_irl) September 11, 2014
Screening films for spider fans
3D for every eye
If you're @ Spider Cannes
— Andrea Phillips (@andrhia) September 11, 2014
How do spiders control a man?
Down the throat
Behind the eyes
Walk among us spreading lies
Run from spiderman
— Melissa Trender (@Tarrigan) September 7, 2014
… I’m kind of in love with this meme.