|Someone is wrong on|
“”You fucked up real good, kiddo. Twitter is a disaster clown car company that is successful despite itself, and there is no possible way to grow users and revenue without making a series of enormous compromises that will ultimately destroy your reputation and possibly cause grievous damage to your other companies.
|—Nilay Patel, "Welcome to hell, Elon", The Verge, 28 October 2022|
Twitter is a microblogging platform centered around celebrity and brand culture. Specifically, the platform lures users by appearing to provide "backstage access" to their favorite brands or celebrities. Friends are replaced by "followers", and until 2022, celebrities were given elevated status on the platform. It is the 13th most popular social media website in the world. The prominence of celebrity gossip journalists on the platform means the platform has had an outsized role in the content of disreputable journalism outlets.
Attention-based culture over community
Twitter, along with similar social media websites are primarily a consumer culture where publicity is king (described in academic literature as a "brand public"). A "brand public" like Twitter is in contrast to a community. A community is where identity and belonging is more important than appearance and visibility. Value creation on Twitter is structured around affect rather than deliberation and values.
What this means is most interaction on Twitter is about jockeying for attention, relationships are shallow, and serve mostly to aid in self-publicity. The constant emotionally charged attention seeking resembles the communication of competitive and insecure adolescents. Discussions are obsessed with social status, and punishing or rewarding based on perceived status signals. The status signals are mediated by the parent platform. For example, users often tell each other that their opinion is not valid because of a lack of status signals on the platform ("ratios", "followers", etc).
Social media networks that are similar to Twitter stigmatize a lack of social status outside the relevant social networks as well. Before the arrival of social media websites like Twitter, low social status was pitied or met with sympathy. This changed after the popularity of social media networks like Twitter. Due to being a marketplace where overall perceived attention is the main currency, words that often convey overall undesirability like 'incel' become slurs and an invitation to abuse that resembles high school bullying. The reification of bully culture in brand publics, coupled with the overall social disapproval of bully culture, creates echo chambers where prejudices further develop against marginalized groups. Prejudices are validated by the relevant factions primarily using the unreasonable narratives contained in within the echo chamber bully cultures, and the celebrity gossip journalists who participate.
Twitter's former CEO and co-founder is Jack Dorsey, a promoter of diet woo and alt-med, and a coddler of far-right extremists.
It's not even that popular, really. Multiply this by the complete lack of meaningful content as well as restricted access to such content on top of this,[note 1] and you obviously have the makings of the greatest website ever...
Nevertheless, the short soundbite-esque nature of Twitter and the fact that mobile devices suit these short messages has made it very popular with social networking nerds. Its heavy users are really heavy, often posting, *ahem* "tweeting" dozens of times per day. It is most popular with celebrities or public figures who wish to interact with their fans — many "tweets" are actually posted by the people themselves, rather than managed by PR companies as typically on a relevant Facebook or MySpace profile. Though, to manage the flood of replies and mentions popular accounts may receive, which may include rational critiques or personal abuse, Twitter provides a range of mechanisms to filter out notifications about some replies. These range from the relatively benign, such as filtering out replies from suspiciously simple accounts with no profile picture or that were recently created (targeted at trolls and bots), to the extreme, such as filtering out all replies from people the account does not follow (presumably targeted for use by people who want to live in a hermetically-sealed filter bubble — let's hope no politicians are using this "feature").
BBC technology columnist Bill Thompson raved about the site before it was seriously big, Ben Goldacre once had a spat with Gillian McKeith over a Twitter comment, and Brian Cox likes to constantly rant about science funding (and where his next Wonders filming spree will take him) via the site.
"Woofer" was an inevitable jab against Twitter's 140 (seriously, what the arse can you say in 140 characters?!?!) character-limit; the key point of Woofer was that you must have at least 1400 characters to make a post, leading to tl;dr all round — although one Woofer post per day would represent fewer characters and content than most serious Twitter users make in a month. In case you're wondering who came up with that stupid idea of a 140 character limit, it was Dorsey: Dorsey wrote software for dispatching taxis, which was transformed into Twitter.
It was also Donald Trump's social network of choice, at least until January 8, 2021 when he got "permabanned" for inciting violence at the US Capitol insurrection, and later unbanned when Elon Musk bought the company. The Southern Poverty Law Center has argued that:
Twitter gave far-right extremists the platform they needed to plan an attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, and the website, if it maintains its current approach, will likely enable politically motivated violence again in the future.
Dorsey is a real-life friend of insurrection ringleader Ali Alexander ("Stop the Steal").
Twitter's own analysis of its platform found that in 6 out of 7 countries that it studied, right-leaning tweets are algorithmically amplified more often than left-leaning tweets.
As with all major social media networking sites, Twitter has done a thoroughly shitty job of policing itself against trolls, bots and hate campaigns. Twitter admitted to a Senate Intelligence Committee in 2017 that Russian "fake-news" outlet RT purchased "$274,100 to promote 1,823 ads directed at followers of major media outlets" during the 2016 US presidential election, but nonetheless Senator Mark Warner was deeply disappointed by Twitter's presentation to the Committee regarding Russian influence, a presentation that was "inadequate on almost every level". Twitter moderators are powerless, and are bound to decisions made by a ideologically-driven libertarian leadership.
Nevertheless, Twitter officially bans its users from, for example, "affiliat[ing] with organizations that — whether by their own statements or activity both on and off the platform — use or promote violence against civilians to further their causes".
On October 30th 2019 (perhaps to contrast current Facebook policy, who not only allows political ads, but refuses to take down political ads with known false content), Twitter announced that they would be banning all political ads on the platform. Predictably, this decision upset previous propagators or beneficiaries of this propaganda, such as Russian "fake-news" outlet RT and 2016 US presidential election winner Donald Trump.
Alongside Facebook and 8chan, the Christchurch terrorist attacks shooter Brenton Harrison Tarrant had a Twitter account.
Elon Musk, everyone's favorite
memelord billionaire, purchased Twitter for $44 billion on October 28, 2022, Within days he began laying off employees in various company departments and reduced the site's speech restrictions, leading to an estimated 500% increase in usage of the n-word. Apparently, Musk has no immediate plans to deal with the trolls; his "free speech" platform seems to indicate that no action may be taken at all. He has removed the entire former board, as well as members of councils that deal with content and ethics, thus declaring himself king of all with no one to stop him.
- ↑ Which can be bypassed with a bit of code with the uBlock extension with this code
twitter.com##.r-1upvrn0.r-l5o3uw.css-1dbjc4n twitter.com##div[role='dialog'] twitter.com##[id$='PromoSlot'] twitter.com##html->body:style(overflow:visible !important;) twitter.com##html:style(overflow:visible !important;)
- ↑ Nilay Patel, Welcome to hell, Elon. You buy it, you break it. The Verge, 28 October 2022.
- ↑ Marwick, A., & boyd, danah. (2011). To See and Be Seen: Celebrity Practice on Twitter. Convergence, 17(2), 139–158. https://doi.org/10.1177/1354856510394539
- ↑ https://www.smartinsights.com/social-media-marketing/social-media-strategy/new-global-social-media-research/
- ↑ Adam Arvidsson, Alessandro Caliandro, Brand Public, Journal of Consumer Research, Volume 42, Issue 5, February 2016, Pages 727–748, https://doi.org/10.1093/jcr/ucv053
- ↑ Twitter hype punctured, BBC News
- ↑ Twitter tweets are 40% 'babble', BBC News
- ↑ Twitter Founders Thrive on Micro-Blogging Constraints by Mark Glaser (May 17, 2007) Media Shift.
- ↑ Permanent suspension of @realDonaldTrump (Friday, 8 January 2021) Twitter (archived from June 10, 2021).
- ↑ Elon Musk ends Trump’s Twitter ban by Amanda Silberling (5:57 PM PST•November 19, 2022) Tech Crunch.
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 'We Make Mistakes': Twitter's Embrace of the Extreme Far Right (July 07, 2021) Southern Poverty Law Center.
- ↑ Twitter algorithms amplify conservative content more than that of the political left, researchers find: The review covered millions of tweets by elected officials in seven countries, as well as posts that linked to political content from news outlets by Taylor Telford (October 22, 2021).
- ↑ Twitter, what the hell with all the harassment? by Ian Sherr (October 2, 2017 5:00 AM) CNET.
- ↑ Twitter finds links to hundreds of Russian-backed bot accounts: Facebook wasn't the only platform being used to spread propaganda during the 2016 election by Andrew Tarantola (09.28.17) engaget.
- ↑ Mark Warner calls Twitter presentation to Intel panel "deeply disappointing" (September 28, 2017, 4:38 PM) CBS News.
- ↑ "The Twitter Rules". 2018.
- ↑ Mark Zuckerberg vs. Jack Dorsey is the most interesting battle in Silicon Valley, CNBC, October 31 2019
- ↑ Twitter Will Ban All Political Ads, C.E.O. Jack Dorsey Says, New York Times, October 30 2019
- ↑ Trump's campaign is upset Twitter banned political ads. So, oddly, is Russian state media The Week, October 30, 2019.
- ↑ "Elon Musk Completes $44 Billion Deal to Own Twitter", The New York Times 28 October 2022.
- ↑ "Elon Musk’s Twitter begins laying off employees across the company", CNN.
- ↑ "N-word usage on Twitter spiked 500% in hours after Elon Musk bought social network", Indy 100.