Twitter, Hamfistedness And The Marketplace Of Ideas.

I’m staying off twitter today other than the tweet or two this generates. I won’t tell you what I think of Stacy McCain, because that bit of tribal signaling is bullshit and we should avoid. But I will tell you what I think of Twitter.

I think John Hoge of Hogewash! has the right idea: stop giving them clicks for a while.

I also agree with Ken White to an extent that I do not have a right to be heard on twitter.

But I think I do think twitter owes me something: a clear set of rules with even enforcement. Transparency would be a bonus (but I’m not going to get my hopes up).

I can defend this on 3 grounds: Rawlsian (what I suspect everyone in Rawls’s “original position” would want under his justice-as-fairness model). Given that most modern progressives at least genuflect at the alter of Rawls via Daniels, this is helpful.

I could defend it on Kantian grounds via his “kingdom of ends” and the categorical imperative.

But I think the best place to defend my position is simply on business grounds. Twitter’s ostensible job is to make money. Something, I might add, it fails at now by all accounts. In order to make money it needs to attract eyeballs to sell ads. It does this in two ways. 1) By letting me create content others want to see and 2) by letting others create content I want to see.

In order for this model to be successful the content creators need a clear idea of what is permitted on their network and what is not. In the past twitter was more light handed, so we knew that most things were allowed. As various groups (hi there @femfreq) decided they didn’t like this, they used “vocal minority” tricks (e.g. squeaky wheel gets the grease) to push twitter into more heavy handed moderation.

Twitter has proven itself inept at this, even if it weren’t the wrong approach in the first place. Twitter is simply too large for this type of moderation to occur with any sort of discretion and diligence so they seem to have offloaded it primarily to automated programs, making it prone to manipulation. (Somewhere in this video┬áthe Xbox live enforcement team talks about why they didn’t automate banning, but it’s a much smaller universe of people.)

Basically I’ll I’m asking from twitter is for the terms of the contract under which we operate. Is that too much to ask?

Apparently so.

What twitter doesn’t understand is that I’ve walked away from communities before. Just up and left. It’s hard, I miss the people for a while, but then I forget and move on to a new community. Twitter would be the easiest community to leave because most of you I can find here or at the HQ, so I wouldn’t even have to miss you.


6 comments to “Twitter, Hamfistedness And The Marketplace Of Ideas.”
  1. Pingback: Twitter Deletes Another Dangerous Miscreant | Dave Alexander & Company with Ukuleledave and David Edgren — This is the original Artisan Craft Blog

  2. I deleted my Twitter account this morning. I wasn’t terribly active, and only followed about 120 users, so my absence won’t be acutely felt, like that of Adam Baldwin, or even that Ace guy. But I think more of us need to take this extreme action, for the reasons you stated: they have no obligation to afford free speech, but I have no obligation to use their platform. Fewer users will equal less ad revenue. Starve the bastards.

  3. What is surprising is the chaotic nature of their policy which, I suspect, is no policy at all….just the feelings of whoever has the ban button that day.

    If Twitter were more serious about actual threats of violence then I could take them more seriously. But this is so obviously politically driven that it’s hard to see amicable ending.

  4. Good post.

    I’ve set my account to “private” and am trimming who I follow. I’m going to use it as a news feed and to push out some things that I think need to be more widely read.

    At some point I may delete it, but not yet.

    Oh, and I agree about this tribal signaling crap. It’s silly, but I’d say the silliest of all are the campaigns to restore check marks.

  5. I agree the campaigns to restore checkmarks are stupid, but they also highlight exactly how petty twitter is being. Removing a checkmark does…ultimately nothing but make it easier for people to create passable spoof accounts like @reaIdonaldtrump. (Look closely that that first “l, maybe cut and paste and play with some fonts.)

    Given that twitter was once a verifier for Reddit AMA’s this could be a problem (though many de-verified people have their own known websites they could use to push information.)

    I told CBD in an email, starting tomorrow I think I’ll send nonthreating critical tweets to @femfreq. Simple things like “Will @femfreq use her newfound position to advocate for someone like the EFF or FIRE on the board?”
    or “@femfreq’s basic style is just poorly executed Foucauldian critique, subject to the same damaging flaws”

    We’ll see if I make it 48 hours before being suspended for “targeted abuse.”

  6. I only got on twitter to promote my blog a few years back. But as I started traveling out of town a lot for work, my blogging slowed down to a crawl.

    Somehow, during the few years I’ve been on twitter, I’ve amassed 1800 followers and almost 32,000 tweets. Thinking about giving it up.

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