created May 29, 2019
Twitter has been nicknamed the "Cesspool of the Internet." From what little I have experienced with Twitter, and from what I have read about Twitter's problems, it's a well-earned moniker.
Using Twitter to bitch about Twitter not doing more to reduce the service's toxicity approaches insanity. These Twitter whiners are partly to blame for Twitter vermin being allowed to run roughshod over users.
If the Twitter complainers wanted real change with Twitter, then they should delete their Twitter accounts and say goodbye to their narcissistic following counts.
Taking a sabbatical won't accomplish anything. Real activism involves users deleting their Twitter accounts and embracing the open internet: personal websites, feeds, and email.
If tens of millions of Twitter users deleted their accounts in dramatic fashion by announcing their intentions and informing users where to find their content, then this might get the attention of Wall Street, which would get the attention of Twitter's board of directors, which might get the attention of Twitter's management.
If Twitter miraculously changed for the better, then the people who deleted their Twitter accounts might rejoin and use Twitter along with their own websites. Or maybe these former Twitter users would realize that the open internet works better for their needs, and they wouldn't need Twitter v2.0.
Twitter is in the outrage business. If decent people continue to waste their time complaining about Twitter ignoring the harassers, then that complaining is a form of engagement that benefits Twitter's bottom line.
Twitter finally made a profit over the past year. Twitter won't make drastic changes to improve the "health" of the service because major changes could decrease overall engagement, which would ultimately upset Wall Street.
As along as Wall Street is satisfied, then Twitter's changes will be small scale, token-like modifications that accomplish little.
May 29, 2019
vice.com - Twitter Has Started Researching Whether White Supremacists Belong on Twitter
Vijaya Gadde, Twitter's head of trust and safety, legal and public policy, said:
"Is it the right approach to deplatform these individuals? Is the right approach to try and engage with these individuals? How should we be thinking about this? What actually works?"
Mediagazer link for the vice.com story.
Twitter management believes that it needs to research how purveyors of hate and violence use Twitter.
These were some of the reactions, attached to the Mediagazer link.
Here's something that Twitter doesn't seem to understand: There's vast financial incentive for extremists to become more extreme on these platforms, by the very nature of interaction-based algorithmic growth. There's no financial incentive for humanity.
But I'm certain that Twitter understands the financial incentive for Twitter to permit engagement of all kinds.
Moving the Overton Window and having the most unique/outrageous/contrarian take is the very backbone of YouTube political personalities. Directing blame at specific characters/caricatures and going against the grain of the mainstream at every turn is the best way to monetize.
When the strategy for dealing with hate speech is "counterspeech", you're putting the onus of producing counterspeech on the people most affected by hate speech.
A tweet by Mike Monteiro appeared with the Mediagazer discussion. I thought of him when I saw this story on Mediagazer. Mike's tweet was a response to the vice.com headline: "Twitter Has Started Researching Whether White Supremacists Belong on Twitter".
Weird, because Twitter users have NEVER mentioned wanting this.
The above comments and many more attached to the Mediagazer link were good observations, but nearly all of the individual reactions were posted at ... Twitter. How is that good?
Recently, I finished reading Mike's entertaining, informative, and enraging 2019 book, titled Ruined by Design.
In his book, Mike wants employees to change their websites, services, and products for the better from within, and if that's impossible, then Mike advises those employees to leave their companies for ethical reasons.
But for two companies, Mike said that it's better to leave and not try to change the businesses for the better. From page 10 of Mike's book with my emphasis added:
The goal of this book is to help you do the right thing in environments designed to make it easier to do the wrong thing. (If you work at Uber or Twitter, just quit. We'll also be talking about when to walk away later in this book.)
But in my opinion, Twitter users, like Mike, are not blameless. If enough people quit Twitter, especially journalists, then in my opinion, that would shake Twitter's management awake to "fix" the service by erecting barriers, such as charging a monthly or yearly fee. Twitter should add more opt-in features for users, instead of always making content producers block people.
People can find anything useful. Plenty of Twitter users view Twitter as a great utility. If Twitter users don't care or are clueless about Twitter's cesspool qualities, then those users probably never complain about Twitter's problems, and this post is not about those people.
But in my opinion, using Twitter to bitch about Twitter is asinine. And all of these Twitter users are responsible for Twitter being the cesspool. It's highly probable that these Twitter users have been aware of Twitter's toxicity for many years, yet they continue to use Twitter. Their Twitter engagement helps Twitter to earn revenue. Their usage encourages Twitter to do nothing serious. These Twitter users have become part of the problem, not only for enabling Twitter's cesspool reputation but also by hastening the demise of the open web/internet.
Obviously, Twitter users have failed to get drastic changes made with Twitter during Twitter's 13 years of existence. 13 years. How much more time do users like Mike need to realize that they failed? The next solution is for concerned Twitter users to delete their accounts.
These cesspool-enablers should migrate to their own websites, hosted at the their domain names, and interop with micro.blog and/or with other services that are not owned by ad-based silos.
Jun 5, 2019
Twitter users contribute to Twitter being a misinformation machine.
symantec.com - Twitterbots: Anatomy of a Propaganda Campaign
Jun 16, 2019
Mediagazer headline ...
David Neiwert remains suspended by Twitter for his header image of KKK hoods from his book cover; he says Twitter punishes the fight against white supremacism
... for this Jun 14, 2019 dailykos.com story
Journalists use the same platform, Twitter, that is used by white supremacists who apparently have Twitter's blessing. It's all about engagement and not the content. Anybody using Twitter is partly to blame for this behavior by Twitter.
Naturally, the reactions to that Mediagazer link were tweets.
Ashton Pittman / @ashtonpittman: KKK Grand Wizard David Duke still has an active @Twitter account, but Twitter, which allows actual white supremacists to thrive, suspended journalist @DavidNeiwert because of the illustration on the cover of his book about American white supremacists. Trash,
Forget everything else about this story. The real question is why does user Ashton Pittman continue to use Twitter? He's a journalist. Ashton Pittman gets some of the blame for Twitter's cesspool nature, especially since he's whining about Twitter management's behavior. This behavior appears embarrassingly dumb.
Jun 26, 2019
HN thread titled Twitter has an algorithm that creates harassment all by itself that pointed too ... a tweet that was a part of the dreadful tweetstorm, which has to be the second worst way to make a web post. The worst method is when users, for some unknown moronic reason, type a blob of text in an editor or something like that and then take a screen capture of the text and post the image in a tweet. It gets around Twitter's character limit per tweet. I guess that the tweetstorm users and the image-blob-text users have never heard of Blogger that launched in 1999.
Anyway, back to some comments from the HN thread.
By far the most engaged stuff is the most controversial where people begin to fight and attack each other.
Well, duh. If people are fighting they are definitely "engaged", but not in a good way. Defining that more engagement equals more success is what made social networks so toxic. The current state that more eyeballs equals more ad money needs to change.
Aug 11, 2019
Society would be improved if Twitter disappeared. Well, "improvement" is relative. In my opinion, with no pile of data to support my opinion, society has been made worse by Twitter's existence, which began in 2006.
Dueling hashtags on Twitter, blaming Clintons and Trump for Epstein's death, predictably amplified by the media, show how poisoned our information ecosystem is
Aug 11, 2019 nytimes.com story
At the heart of Saturday’s fiasco is Twitter, which has come to largely program the political conversation and much of the press. Twitter is magnetic during massive breaking stories; news junkies flock to it for up-to-the-second information. But early on, there’s often a vast discrepancy between the attention that is directed at the platform and the available information about the developing story. That gap is filled by speculation and, via its worst users, rumor-mongering and conspiracy theories.
News junkies? Twitter "news junkies" equals misinformed breaking news fans.
The author supports my belief that "breaking news" is synonymous with "incorrect news." Too many media orgs partake in the breaking news model.
More from the NY Times opinion/article:
On Saturday afternoon, computational propaganda researcher Renée DiResta noted that the media’s close relationship with Twitter creates an incentive for propagandists and partisans to artificially inflate given hashtags.
It's great to see others finally catching up to what some of us have known or at least suspected for a long time.
#ClintonBodyCount began trending on Saturday, journalists took note and began lamenting the spread of this conspiracy theory — effectively turning it into a news story, and further amplifying the trend. “Any wayward tweet … can be elevated to an opinion worth paying attention to,” Ms. DiResta wrote. “If you make it trend, you make it true.”
Saturday’s online toxicity may have felt novel, but it’s part of a familiar cycle: What cannot be easily explained is answered by convenient untruths. The worst voices are rewarded for growing louder and gain outsize influence directing narratives. With each cycle, the outrage and contempt for the other builds. Each extreme becomes certain its enemy has manipulated public perception; each side is the victim, but each is also, inexplicably, winning. The poison spreads.
Twitter is in the fear and rage business. The media peddles fear and rage. That's why Twitter and journalists are a perfect match. Meanwhile, society loses. Great job, journalists. It's easy to see why many people have a low opinion of journalism.
This is a stunning but correct observation by a media person.
twitter's trending topics are a mess unpopular opinion: a lot of journalists' agita about social media, directed at Facebook, is just an expression of their daily experience with the mess that is Twitter starting to wonder which is now a bigger threat to democracy
Good observations by others under that tweet.
Are most journalists expected by their employers to be active on twitter? If not, why do it? It seems like a lot of work for many of them.
It's complicated, right? FB has more than 10x the DAUs of Twitter. But Twitter engages the press more and they find and amplify the nightmares on here.
Twitter breaking the brains of journalists really maximizes its harm.
Christopher Mims / @mims: twitter's trending topics are a mess unpopular opinion: a lot of journalists' agita about social media, directed at Facebook, is just an expression of their daily experience with the mess that is Twitter starting to wonder which is now a bigger threat to democracy
Hamza Shaban / @hshaban: Two compelling takes on coverage of Epstein's death. They examine the grim logic of Twitter driving conspiracy theories and attention-seeking that's validated and amplified by the press. https://www.nytimes.com/... by @cwarzel https://www.washingtonpost.com/ ... by @abbyohlheiser https://twitter.com/...
Dylan Matthews / Vox: The conspiracy theories about the Clintons and Jeffrey Epstein's death, explained
Sierra Juarez / The Daily Dot: TrumpsBodyCount pins blame on Trump for mass shooting and migrant deaths
Tim O'Donnell / The Week: William Barr asks Inspector General to open investigation into Jeffrey Epstein's death
Renee DiResta / @noupside: The problem with Twitter is inseparable from how the media engages with Twitter. Any wayward tweet by a rando egg can be elevated to an opinion worth paying attention to. Every gamed trend is a meaningful thing we have to analyze and assess in the context of the culture war https://twitter.com/...
Bari Weiss / @bariweiss: Strong column by @cwarzel. Begs the question: would things improve if all journalists got off Twitter? https://www.nytimes.com/...
Charlie Warzel / @cwarzel: New from me: I wrote about the Epstein conspiracies yesterday and how our information ecosystem is poisoned. https://www.nytimes.com/... https://twitter.com/...
Jay Rosen / @jayrosen_nyu: “It's increasingly apparent that our information delivery systems were not built for our current moment.” True. https://www.nytimes.com/... We have to persuade more journalists to recognize that fact. (Please don't @ me with “NOW they realize this?” Thanks.)
Emily Pothast / @emilypothast: Interesting take. Though, as a historian of print media, I'd dispute the notion that the “news” was ever more objective than it is now. (In 1605 Johann Carolus, the world's very first newspaper publisher, faced threat of closure if he didn't censor the news.) https://twitter.com/...
Dare Obasanjo / @carnage4life: As @mims pointed out yesterday, a key problem with modern journalism is how much journalists source their narratives from Twitter. This leads to news cycles based on Trump's latest insults and whatever the trending topics algorithm says is popular today https://www.nytimes.com/...
Kelsey Tamborrino / Politico: Kellyanne Conway on Epstein's death: Trump wants everything investigated
The problem with Twitter is inseparable from how the media engages with Twitter. Any wayward tweet by a rando egg can be elevated to an opinion worth paying attention to. Every gamed trend is a meaningful thing we have to analyze and assess in the context of the culture war
Strong column by @cwarzel. Begs the question: would things improve if all journalists got off Twitter?
If you have to ask that, then you may be too far gone for help. Of course the answer is YES, things would improve everywhere, including with Twitter because Wall Street would get outraged at journalists bailing on Twitter, which would force Twitter to make drastic changes.
As @mims pointed out yesterday, a key problem with modern journalism is how much journalists source their narratives from Twitter. This leads to news cycles based on Trump's latest insults and whatever the trending topics algorithm says is popular today
That ain't journalism. That's garbage, and it does not deserve to be funded nor saved in any manner by readers. Modern journalism and modern web design are horrible experiences.
Interesting historical perspective, not related to this post.
Emily Pothast / @emilypothast: Interesting take. Though, as a historian of print media, I'd dispute the notion that the “news” was ever more objective than it is now. (In 1605 Johann Carolus, the world's very first newspaper publisher, faced threat of closure if he didn't censor
In the Mediagazer discussion attached to Warzel's article, I highlighted the following tweet:
Two compelling takes on coverage of Epstein's death. They examine the grim logic of Twitter driving conspiracy theories and attention-seeking that's validated and amplified by the press.
Twitter management, its board, and Wall Street probably saw only dollar signs over the past couple weekends, due to the major U.S. stories. Engagement or usage, that's all that matters to Twitter/Wall Street, regardless of the toxicity and stupidity.
Stupidly, journalists continue to claim that Twitter has utility. Twitter's goal is not to be useful.
Twitter's only goal is engagement, encouraging as many people as possible to waste their time, spreading misinformation, hate, violence, harassment, and all of the other qualities that make Twitter a cesspool.
Twitter and the media highlight the few intelligent nuggets of info posted to Twitter to paint a false image of Twitter's usefulness.
Charlie Warzel wrote the above Aug 11, 2019 NY Times opinion. Below are excerpts from my 2019 post, titled The Media's War on the Open Web that included a tweet by Warzel.
Here's a tweet, related to that same NBC News story.
there’s a very good case that it’s irresponsible for us all to be using this website if the platform is this irresponsible. maybe we should all seriously think about what it means to post all our stuff alongside an increasing volume of garbage
Yep. Why do journalists love to use a silo that promotes hate, violence, and misinformation? They could post their thoughts at their own domain names. Depending upon whether or how they accept comments, the journalists could be the only ones posting content to their sites. Even if they permitted Webmention comments, they could remove the garbage ones. They would be in charge of what occurs on their websites.
My February 2019 post : Should Journalists Stop Using Twitter
Aug 13, 2019
This is the best media opinion that Margaret Sullivan has written, during her time at WaPo.
The Twitter-fed misinformation disaster following Epstein's death makes a case for slow news consumption, where readers disengage from breaking news
Aug 12, 2019 washingtonpost.com post
by media observer Margaret Sullivan that was associated with that Mediagazer link.
We welcome Margaret to the dark side.
sawv.org - Slow News Movement
Twitter is ALWAYS a misinformation disaster. It was not a one-weekend aberration.
Aug 15, 2019
I stumbled upon this tweet by Pinboard.
Thanks, Twitter, for showing me a promoted tweet by a Chinese propaganda agency spreading disinformation about the situation in Hong Kong
Pinboard.in provides a useful service. It's focused on speed and utility.
Aug 19, 2019
[Thread] Twitter has been running ads from Chinese state news agency Xinhua that aim to discredit protesters in Hong-Kong
Unfortunately, the link points to the dreaded tweetstorm, which, again, is one of the dumbest methods for posting text to the web.
Anyway, this highlights why Twitter is one of the worst services on the web, and it's because nearly every journalist uses Twitter. Bogus information gets amplified by the journalists covering it. The media does not realize that they are a tool being used by misinformation campaigns.
Here's another Aug 19, 2019 story that appeared at Mediagazer.com.
How journalists can avoid amplifying misinformation, given their reporting can improve search engine rankings and increase the visibility for bad info
If the media stopped using social media for referral traffic to support their moronic, ad-based business models, and if journalists stopped using Twitter, then it would it would be harder, not impossible, for misinformation to spread.
Misinformation relies on speed. If journalists, media orgs, and the rest of us posted primarily on our own websites, then it's likely that lies would take longer to spread, and it's likely that we would see the debunking before seeing the falsehood.
The Slow Web Movement and the Slow News Movement would deny misinformation the speed that it needs to thrive.
Back to the Pinboard tweetstorm about the Chinese state news agency buying ads on Twitter to spread lies ...
Aug 19, 2019 techcrunch.com story
A journalist tweeted
Thread which points up the dilemma of ad-dependent orgs in a world where authoritarian governments can buy ads too. It will sound trite, but imagine 1936-8 with social networks, taking ads from anyone to make unverified propaganda claims.
Another journalists tweeted
It's very clear that China is using Western freedom as a tool against Western freedom. But what can free and open democracies do about it? Should they do anything about it? What role can or should the companies play? I don't have answers, but I'd love to hear practical ideas
Are journalists proud to be using the same service that is used by authoritarian governments, terrorists, trolls, and hate-mongerers?
Forget looking to companies to provide solutions. The journalists should act on their own by deleting their Twitter accounts. That would get Twitter's attention. Twitter would make massive changes if ALL journalists deleted their Twitter accounts.
The last thing that silo services like Facebook and Twitter want is for the masses to embrace the open web. That's a reason why Google shutdown its Reader feed reading app back in 2013. Google did not want to offer users any option to its Google+ social network, which Google shutdown in the past year or so.
Aug 20, 2019
Twitter says it will no longer accept advertising from state-controlled news media entities, but the rule does not apply to “taxpayer-funded entities”
Twitter blog post titled Updating our advertising policies on state media
Aug 19, 2019 theintercept.com story titled Twitter Helped Chinese Government Promote Disinformation on Repression of Muslims
Aug 27, 2019
This is embarrassingly classless and infantile behavior by a NY Times columnist.
thedailybeast.com post titled NY Times Columnist to Twitter Critic: ‘Come to My Home’ and ‘Call Me a Bedbug to My Face’
New York Times op-ed columnist Bret Stephens, who last month wrote a column comparing mean tweets directed at him to the French Reign of Terror, emailed George Washington University associate professor Dave Karpf and the university’s provost on Monday to complain about the professor’s tweet calling Stephens a bedbug.
Holy crap. Being called a "bedbug" is almost a compliment. A bedbug? I was called worst in elementary school, especially at the bus stop by an older bully. I ignored it.
Stephens responded to his latest brush with viral infamy by shutting down his Twitter account. Before the account was deactivated, Mediaite reported that Stephens fired one last salvo:
“Twitter is a sewer. It brings out the worst in humanity. I sincerely apologize for any part I’ve played in making it worse, and to anyone I’ve ever hurt. Thanks to all of my followers, but I’m deactivating this account.”
Great day in the morning. That's awesome. That's exactly the proper behavior for journalists: deactivating their Twitter accounts.
The columnist did a good thing by deactivating his account, but this still seems bizarre, ridiculous, and over-blown.
Shortly after deactivating his Twitter account, Stephens appeared on MSNBC and discussed his blowup at Karpf over the Twitter joke. Stephens said that “Twitter brings out the worst in its users” before grousing that being called a bedbug is “dehumanizing and totally unacceptable no matter where it comes from.”
That's a serious over-reaction. That's major hyperbole. But it's his choice. And then he tattletales.
The Times columnist went on to defend his email to Karpf and the provost, insisting that it was “very civil” and that he “had no intention whatsoever to get him in any kind of professional trouble.” After MSNBC host Chris Jansing wondered aloud if this was really the worst thing Stephens had been called on social media, he compared the insult to totalitarian action.
Using Twitter to call someone a bedbug is a totalitarian action. ?!?! How is this chap qualified to be a columnist for the NY Times?
“All I would say is that using dehumanizing rhetoric like bedbugs or, you know, analogizing people to insects, is always wrong,” Stephens declared. “There’s a bad history of being analogized to insects that goes back to a lot of totalitarian regimes in the past. I’ve been called worse. I wrote this guy a personal note. Now it’s out there for everyone to see.”
Man, lighten up, Francis. Since I like insects, I would not mind being called an insect. I'd like to be called a Scissor-grinder Cicada.
Oct 14, 2019
The author uses a silo to describe the alleged importance of the cesspool silo. Bad takes here.