Me, Myself, and MeWe

By Shamus Posted Sunday Apr 8, 2018

Filed under: Personal 75 comments

Have you heard about MeWe? It’s selling itself as the “next-gen” social media platform. More specifically, it’s trying to be the anti-Facebook by promising it won’t do data harvesting or sell your personal info. So I tried it. But before I talk about the Twilight Zone strangeness I encountered, please enjoy this barely-related rant on the current state of social media:

Destructive Curation

Facebook is so played out, even the jokes about how played out it is are played out.
Facebook is so played out, even the jokes about how played out it is are played out.

I realize that selling personal info is the most egregious sin that SM platforms perpetrate, but it’s not the one that annoys me the most. What really bugs me is the algorithm-driven “curation” of content. Both Twitter and Facebook became significantly less interesting to me when the platform began “helping” me by showcasing content it thought I wanted to see and burying content it assumed I didn’t care about. It’s true that I never left comments or pressed the like button on Aunt Edna’s cancer treatment updates. But I didn’t engage with that stuff because… well, you don’t always need to say something, you know? But those updates were still important to me. It’s also true that I’d sometimes hit the like button when cousin Jimmy posted something humorous, but that doesn’t mean I come to Facebook to find funny images.

But those are the assumptions that drive the Facebot, so that’s what I saw in my feed. Over time the important family updates vanished and were replaced with a really shitty version of Imgur. Yuck. I can still see updates from family, but I have to go to each and every family member’s page / feed and view it directly. That’s a lot of trouble and a lot of clicks to find out there aren’t any updates, which means I revert to the pre-SM behavior of “I’ll just assume someone will email me if anything really important happens.”

I have the same problem with Twitter. I’ve turned off every type of “help” I can find in the settings, but I can tell it’s still doing some level of curation. I’ll refresh the page two hours after my previous visit, and I’ll still see the same handful of mega-popular Tweets from major organizations / famous individuals featured at the top, and the dashed-off thoughts of my friends and colleagues (which is what I’m here for) will have vanished into the snowstorm and can’t be found anywhere in the timeline.

If my brother Tweets, “Shit. Just got a flat.” then I want to read that, even if he only has six followers and nobody in the world “likes” the message. I’m not here for your creepy-ass Orwellian algorithm-driven popularity contest / outrage generator. I just want to see what’s going on with my friends and family. Twitter is still useful to me as a way to broadcast updates to my audience, but as a source of information it’s completely useless.

Back to MeWe

So the major platforms have curated themselves out of a job. I check Facebook once a month out of some unexplained sense of obligation, and I use Twitter to broadcast to my audience, but both platforms are dead to me as a means of two-way communication.

So I’ve been eager for a platform that can let me communicate with the people I’m close to. The problem was, new platforms weren’t useful because my friends weren’t there. But then MeWe came along and a few crucial family members joined. And then they invited me. So I decided to give it a shot.

I created my account on Saturday March 31 but I didn’t really try to use it until sometime on Wednesday April 4. When I went to log in, Google Chrome had saved the credentials I’d used on Saturday. The name / password fields were already filled in, so I just hit the login button.

But somehow, that stored name / password pair didn’t work. I tried getting the password out the the password manager I use, just to make sure I was using the right password. I manually re-typed both, just to make sure. Nothing worked.

So I tried password recovery. But then MeWe said it had never heard of me. No such email on file. Now, this is clearly bogus because I know I registered using this email. I’ve still got the “Welcome to MeWe” messages in my inbox.

Maybe… I dunno. Maybe my account was purged? I know the service is new, and maybe they’re getting rid of people who create an account and then don’t use it, assuming they must be bots? Hmmm.

Whatever. I re-create the account. Same name. Same password. Same email. I send friend requests to all the people I was already friends with. That’s strange, but I guess it’s a new system and they’re still working the bugs out?

And then a few hours later I get this message:

(Twilight Zone music plays.)
(Twilight Zone music plays.)

There are so many levels of wrongness going on here that I don’t know where to start.

I can’t tell if this is the old account inviting the new, or the other way around. Either way, I didn’t use either account to invite the other, so this invite is auto-generated. That’s alarming.

I couldn’t log in or recover the old account, so I assumed it was gone. But now I see it still exists somehow. My contacts all have two of me in their contact lists, with no indication is the “real” (usable) account and which one is this creepy revenant.

We now have two different accounts, both of which have the same name AND email AND password. A proper account system should not allow this. There’s no way for me to specify (or tell) which one I’m interacting with. Even if I could log into the old account, if I tried to close it there’s no way to tell what might happen. Which account would get closed? Old? New? Both? Neither? If I can’t tell the accounts apart, then neither can MySQLSure, each account will have a unique user ID, but that number is not user-facing and can’t be specified in a web form..

Me, me, me.
Me, me, me.

I have not yet accepted my friend request. I don’t even know what that would do, but I’m not convinced it wouldn’t cause the universe to fold in on itself.

Keep at it, MeWe. We need a Facebook alternative, but I don’t think you’re there yet.

 

Footnotes:

[1] Sure, each account will have a unique user ID, but that number is not user-facing and can’t be specified in a web form.



From The Archives:
 

75 thoughts on “Me, Myself, and MeWe

  1. MaxEd says:

    Yeah, new sites are like that. I once joined a Gamers Dating site. I never met anyone there, because it had too few people, but I wrote them a long e-mail with a list of bugs all over the place, and got a few days of premium membership out of it (nice, if useless in the end).

    1. Echo Tango says:

      because it had too few people

      This is the crucial problem of any closed-off social network. They’re useless without having most of your friends/family/colleagues on the network, so nobody joins, which means that none of your friends/family… In the early days of telephones, this meant that everyone had to pay for phones / service from multiple different companies, just so they could keep in touch. Modern social networks are free from monetary cost, but the users have to put in effort to re-friend everyone across every social site they want to use. It would be a lot better for the users, if companies were incentivized to be inter-operable for social networks. Contact-lists, contact categorization (“friend”, “aquaintance”, “old co-worker”, etc), permissions (friends-only posts, posts for aquaintances, public posts), instant messages – all of these things could be fulfilled by different companies for different users, or even different companies for the same user! :)

      1. Olivier FAURE says:

        We’ll probably start seeing this stuff more in the coming years, as Google, Facebook and Microsoft push their “You account in our service is your identity online everywhere” models, and open-source communities try to set up decentralized equivalents.

  2. Draklaw says:

    My 1st issue with SM like Facebook, Twitter and co. is that they are closed platforms. If I don’t want to accept Facebook’s terms for whatever reason (spoiler: I don’t) then I can’t communicate with my friends. If it turns out Facebook messed badly (they did), you are trapped. Either you stay on a platform that is likely to mess again, or you leave it but you can no longer communicate with your friends through this mean. And if your friends don’t want to move… Well too bad for you.

    Another issue is that if your favorite SM decide to change something (curating rules, interface, …) and you don’t like the change, you can’t do anything about it.

    Interestingly, email is a distributed communication system. With email, anybody can set up a server and communicate with others without relying on a third party. Sure, most people don’t want to do this, but they still have the possibility to choose their service provider. Do you want a free service that makes money with your private data like gmail or are you ready to pay for the service for more privacy ? And if your service provider messes, while inconvenient, you can go to a different service provider.

    If we where able to create something like this 50 years ago, surely we can do it today ? Sure, it’s probably impossible to create a massively successful startup like Facebook if you open yourself to competition, but at the same time it would make the service so much more valuable for the users.

    I know there are some open source social networks using a distributed system. I don’t know what they have to offer though. Anyway, to me it is the only reasonable option for a communication medium.

    1. Alex says:

      But email also gave us a system where 60% of all content is unsolicited advertising and scams. You could have a whitelist of trusted partner services which can vouch for their own users who want to submit content, but you wouldn’t want your social media website to open the door to every 419 scammer on the planet without retaining the option on your end to ban them.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Fuuny thing about this: an old email I use for testing out crap I dont want to deal with permanently has about 2, 3 spams a week that get through the generic filter and I simply delete. An old Facebook account I use for the same purpose is littered with 10-20 messages I never read every day. So whenever I check it, i have hundreds of announcements waiting for me to sift through.

    2. Zak McKracken says:

      I entirely agree — but I think there’s just too much incentive for anyone introducing a new protocol to keep it closed, and too little request by the average user — who in all probability does not care much, because the advantage of a federated system is only visible once something fails.

      Heck, even telephone used to be a national monopoly in most states for a long time, and when those monopolies were dissolved, not only did prices come down (nice) but also did fraud increase massively…

      I’m thinking that the reason e-mail (and http, for that matter!) made it so big was that they were mainly introduced to the world via universities, who were the hosting much of the services. Thety had no interest in achieving “customer lock-in” or maximizing the amount of user data — they were using it to make the lives of researchers and students easier.
      I’m also thinking it would have been pretty cool if universities had embraced XMPP at some stage, or maybe Matrix these days. If most universities started running servers for Matrix (and maybe some VoIP protocol, too?), provided students with access, I’m fairly certain that that would make it the new standard in very short order, including plenty of offerings, “free” and paid, from private entities for anyone not provided for by a university.

      For a proper Facebook contender, though, the only federated thing on the (my) horizon used to be Diaspora, and that’s pretty much fizzled out. Mastodon seems to be doing okay for a federated Twitter competitor, though I’m thinking it’ll probably stay fairly obscure in the eyes of most people who don’t actively go and read related news.

      1. Echo Tango says:

        When there’s no built-in incentives for companies to do the right thing, there’s always legislation. That’s pretty much[1] why we’ve got USB cables as the standard for cell-phone charging / data-transfer now.

        The only thing I can see changing companies’ minds about standards, without making new laws, would be a large public petition of some kind. An open letter to Facebook / Twitter / etc, with a statement of “We don’t use all of your services, because they all suck, and are closed-off.”, signed by thousands of people might be enough. Or possibly a large survey, with data on how many people use how many social networks, how many people stopped using social networks because they didn’t have enough of their friends, how many people didn’t even sign up to a new network, etc etc.

        [1] I believe the relevant legislation is non-mandatory, but regardless, mandatory standards are an option.

        1. McKracken says:

          For some things, you don’t even need much regulations, just establishing some standard and providing a solid base can be enough. Although the USB thing only worked partially. The idea was to make dedicated phone chargers unnecessary. unfortunately, most phones still come with a charger which will deliver the precise current which that phone’s battery is certified to, but charge other devices only at the standard rate(s). Would have been nice if a current negotiation thing and a wider range of permitted currents had been part of the standard.
          That said: Still much better than what we had before!

          I’m not sure how regulation/laws could give us an open federated social media network, though, especially since most governments are a either bit behind the curve on the technological/functional details, or afraid of secure communications (except for their own people… which is physically impossible), or both. So a government-mandated social media protocol sounds like a terrible idea, but some law/regulation which hands an advantage to open, federated communication/SM protocols could be incredibly good. Maybe something along the anti-trust line? Forcing companies operating communications with more than xx users to publish the protocol and permit federation? That would have prevented Facebook from shutting non-FB XMPP users out of Facebook messenger, for example. Kind of similar to former telephone monopolists in the EU being forced to allow competitors to rent end user access from them, at sensible rates.

  3. Dreadjaws says:

    Nothing I dislike more from social media that this stupid idea they have that they can choose what I want to see based on algorithms. YouTube does the same shit. Long ago they changed their comments system to prioritize based on friends. Since I don’t have any friends in the system, the comments are ordered by who the hell knows kind of nonsense.

    Also, periodically in the front page they single out a video I’ve recently watched and want me to rate it on a scale from “One of the best videos I’ve ever seen” to one of the worst ones. You’ll recognize this as an entirely useless classification method. How about giving me some better choices here? I could tell you if it’s one of the best trailers I’ve ever seen, or one of the worst reviews, for instance. It would still be stupidly useless, but not nearly as much.

    But no, they use this as an actual system to propel popular videos to the front, regardless of subject. That’s why when you load YouTube without being logged in all you see are music videos and trailers.

    1. Lazlo says:

      YouTube does the same shit. Long ago they changed their comments system to prioritize based on friends.

      If you’re reading YouTube comments, you’ve already lost.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        Unless you’re looking for jokes.
        Sometimes there’s funny stuff. Almost always the top-voted comment is a little bint clever.

        Now if you’re COMMENTING on Youtube – and it’s not a joke – then you’ve lost.

        1. MichaelG says:

          I’m into 3d printing and follow a bunch of small channels (< 100K subscribers). It is possible to have an interesting conversation and exchange useful information on YouTube. You just have to avoid anything remotely popular.

        2. D-Frame says:

          And then there’s the occasional gem that nearly manages to restore one’s faith in humanity. Deus Ex fans may want to read this video’s comment section.

          1. PPX14 says:

            Haha thank you I did not know of this

    2. Echo Tango says:

      There’s definitely room for a new type of search engine, that allows you to search by category across all different media. Google’s main search, and the search on YouTube, are very good at finding you popular videos with similarity to your search words, but fail miserably if you’ve got an obscure topic to find. Maybe a massive database that could categories pages / videos / whatever, similar to the tagging system in Steam for games, or the tagging system in StackOverflow? Using both computer-generated tags, and user tags would work. Still, this would be a massive undertaking.

  4. Yerushalmi says:

    What really bugs me is the algorithm-driven “curation” of content.

    This is *exactly* why I quit Twitter. Like you, I discovered that even if I disabled all curation options it was still hiding things from me – and if I couldn’t trust it to deliver all the things I subscribed to, I’d go somewhere else and subscribe to that instead.

    I followed a very limited number of people on Twitter when I was there, and constantly unfollowed people in order to keep the amount of content down to a manageable level. I prided myself on having read every single tweet by every single person that I followed for the duration of my following them, and once I discovered that the company was preventing me from doing so, I left.

    1. Mako says:

      Yep, that’s what I find annoying about youtube these days. Since the youtube bots have no way of differentiating quality content like Shamus’s channel, MrBTongue, Errant Signal or Joseph Anderson from the lowest common denominator gaming themed bullshit like PewDiePie (or rather my regional equivalents of that, which are even more nauseating), I’d rather not have recommendations at all. Same applies to any other type of content (regardless of topic).

      I just ignore most of the fb content and just use it for chat and events, and I flat out don’t use twitter since thankfully it’s not that popular in my country.

      1. Droid says:

        You have to train the algorithm a bit, especially if you’re mainly following smaller channels, but if you’re logged in and stay persistent in letting it know what you don’t like (mouse over recommended video, open dropdown menu, click “hide video” or something to that effect), you’ll eventually reach a point where it’s suggesting stuff that is topically relevant to the video in question, and stays as far away as possible from tHe NeW tReNdInG hOtNeSs as it can get. I even found a few really, REALLY good channels due to its recommendations by now.

        What’s surprising is how much the algorithm seems to know about similarities between videos like “both presenters have a calm and collected demeanor”, “both heavily edit their footage”, and perhaps most surprisingly, “both play on the highest difficulty level” (I checked both titles and descriptions, and they only contained the game-specific term for highest difficulty, i.e. “legendary”, “insane”, “I am the Night mode”, etc., and those terms didn’t match, they just were both indicating “highest”).

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          This is true.While a lot* of what youtube is doing is crap,its recommendation bot does actually work well after a bit of training.It introduced me to a lot of stuff I ended up enjoying(like Numberphile,PBS Space Time,minutephysics,Vsauce,ralphthemoviemaker,….),and even stuff that shouldve been recommended to me through other means,but werent(like Cyborcat and Chris Stuckmann).And it did it only by evaluating what I watched,without any effort from me other than making a profile there.Even better,its smart enough to distinguish that when I check out crap sent to me by other means(for example,turbofolk songs),it does not recommend me other crap like that.

          *A LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOTTT

        2. Dragmire says:

          Unfortunately, you can’t click, “not interested” for playlists that are recommended.

          I have some meme playlist that’s constantly recommended but I can’t get rid of it. God help me if I ever accidentally click on it. Any bot training would go out the window instantly.

          1. Droid says:

            That “instant regret” buttshit? Yeah, that’s the one that bugs me, too. I’ve actually recently filed a YT bug/feedback form suggesting they add this feature. If it’s bothering you as much as it does me, you might wanna do the same. Y’know, be the change, yaddayaddayadda.

      2. Alan says:

        Ye gods. For a long, long time, YouTube seemed to think that because I watched videos about hate groups that I must really, really want to see videos from hate groups. It was months of thumbing things down and fiddling with the hard to find and possibly useless blocking system before it clued up. And in the meanwhile, I kept blundering into new recommendations for videos about how people who are different from the speaker are inherently bad.

        1. This reminds me of a recent debacle where (I think it was on Facebook), they started down-rating posts with the word “suicide” in them, and inadvertantly banned a lot of SUICIDE-PREVENTION posts.

    2. For Twitter, you can disable almost all of that. Most importantly, https://twitter.com/settings/account and disable “Show the best Tweets first”. Twitter will rarely show a “Who to follow” or “In case you missed it” section, but not enough to be a problem. Other than that, disable all their notifications.

      Facebook’s news feed can also be turned to chronological mode, but you have to do it every time – it won’t remember you want to see newest post first. And they refuse to fix it. Beyond that, disable every app notification as they pop up.

      So it IS possible to use the big networks in a sane manner, but it takes a bit of fiddling.

      1. Yerushalmi says:

        The problem is that simply isn’t true. Every time Twitter announced some new change to its content curation (“We’ll hide spam replies for you! We’ll hide what we think are uninteresting tweets from you!”) I’d go into the settings and shut it off, and go through all of the other settings windows for good measure to check that there aren’t others I didn’t know about.

        And yes, it would turn off most of Twitter’s behind-the-scenes meddling. But not all of it. I discovered, once in a very great while, a favorite or a reply or a retweet that I hadn’t been informed about by Notification board or by email. Or a tweet that didn’t show up in my timeline at all. Once I realized I couldn’t trust Twitter anymore, I left.

        As for Facebook, well, I closed my account there in 2006, so I have no idea what they’ve been up to.

      2. Dev Null says:

        Just bookmark facebook.com/?sk=h_chr. Unless you’re using the app. You’re not using the app, are you? Ah well; it was nice chatting with your robotic replacement…

        All Hail Our Shiny New OverFriends!

      3. Tuck says:

        For Facebook, look up the Fluff Busting Purity (aka FBP) browser extension. It gives you vastly more control over the platform, and I couldn’t get anything done there without it now.

  5. tmtvl says:

    Entire article appears on the front page.

    1. Mako says:

      +1 , on Firefox 59.0.2

      1. Dan Efran says:

        Um, it’s not a browser issue. Shamus habitually forgets to put in the page break.

  6. John says:

    Over time the important family updates vanished and were replaced with a really shitty version of Imgur.

    Family updates are pretty much the only thing I would ever want from Facebook. The fact that it can’t even deliver those reliably totally justifies my decision not to get a Facebook account. Uh, retroactively. If I needed a justification, which I guess I don’t. No one I know has ever asked me why I’m not on Facebook.

  7. Mako says:

    I quite literally LOLed at the double account and the Agent Smith picture. Maybe that’s what the name MeWe is supposed to indicate (turns Me into We — you will be assimilated).

    Have you tried contacting their support?

    1. Noah says:

      I was thinking the same thing — “you” became “we”. Truth in advertising!

  8. GreyDuck says:

    I’m running a little Mastodon instance (frell.co) to dip my toe in those waters, and so far it’s behaving as I’d hoped: Linear timelines, good filtering controls, and a couple of features (content warning options, descriptive text for images) that aren’t readily available most other places.

    I don’t know if it’s the answer but it’s what a possible answer might look like, at any rate.

  9. King Marth says:

    Haven’t met myself online since my last IRC netsplit. We Are Legion.

    On the plus side, after noping out of WhatsApp’s policy of vacuuming up all your contacts as a required part of creating your phone-number-backed messaging account, I ended up being pointed to Telegram, which prides itself on not doing that. Instant messaging, backed by phone numbers, as a non-profit backed by donations rather than data marketing, with the option between cloud-synced and fully encrypted device-to-device private chats (which the company can’t read even if they wanted to… which Blackberry also provides and has gotten in trouble for when local governments don’t understand why non-terrorists might want this service).

    The network effect is always at play, a network service is only as useful as the content it can sell. (As XKCD put it, if you aren’t paying for the service, you aren’t the customer, you’re the product.) I get around Youtube curation by simply never visiting the front page, I only ever engage with Youtube via the Subscriptions page and if I don’t watch enough of someone’s videos to want them polluting that feed then I don’t subscribe (though I am lazy about dropping people who once provided content I liked but transitioned into other stuff). I get around Twitter curation by not having an account and only ever using the service by going to a user’s page and blocking the constant demands to create an account.

    I remember seeing an article a few years ago speculating on whether Twitter would stay as a company or make the transition to providing a protocol, ala email. This sort of thing doesn’t happen by accident, creating interoperability on underlying data is difficult even if you’re the sole user of that data let alone when you permit any arbitrary coder to maul your standard. Plus side, any Twitter spammers need to go through Twitter so there’s a single point of defense; minus side, Twitter is the sole source of truth so no-one can whip up a simple aggregator that tracks individual feeds and nothing else without going through the Twitter API which I presume injects whatever else it feels like. Of course, if it doesn’t, that might just be a matter of finding a 3rd party client that tricks Twitter into being useful again.

    1. Viktor says:

      Tweetdeck etc do a pretty good job of making a chronological Twitter feed with no curation or random injected likes. So of course Twitter has announced they’re breaking their API later this year.

  10. Rosseloh says:

    I’m the same as you on Facebook. I check it once a weekday, solely to see what the specials are at my favorite pubs. And that’s it.

    If I get an email notification I might go look at the page in question (if it’s actually one that interests me, for example one of my flight sim groups), but most of the time? No Facebook here.

    Now, do I ignore “social media” entirely? No, I’m actually pretty prolific on Reddit. but I also don’t really call that “social media” – I have my specific subreddits that I follow, and not much else. And those subreddits are more about discussion than they are about posting things found online, so it ends up being more like a classic forum, really.

  11. Malimar says:

    I have an ancient dumbphone that’s difficult and unreliable to text with, and AIM shut down and only one person I know still uses ICQ, so nowadays Facebook Messenger is most of how I do real-time messaging communication with people. (Yes, I’m aware they scrape Messenger conversations for data.)

    Through a Group and Events, it’s also how my D&D group organizes.

    The timeline is mostly an entertaining tertiary use for me — if it were my primary use for the site, I’d be a lot more irritated by its terrible functionality.

    1. This is going to sound bizarre, but I tend to use Facebook to keep up with the activity of businesses I like (Standing Stone Games, Obsidian, stuff like that), and my government representatives, since they have pages and post a never-ending stream of stuff.

  12. J Greely says:

    Back in 2010, Facebook asked me to friend myself so I could see my updates, but then wouldn’t let me follow through on it. I was oddly disappointed.

    -j

    1. Nimrandir says:

      I remember discovering it was possible to like your own posts. Yay egotism!

  13. Lazlo says:

    I don’t much have the problem of staying in touch with family and friends because I have almost none of either. I technically have accounts on Twitter, FB, and G+, but G+ is the only one I’ve ever really used, and I decided it wasn’t worth it mid-2016, and haven’t missed it. I used FB for a single purpose, and only ever logged into it in an incognito-mode browser window (to keep its tracking at bay to some small extent). It was still far too creepy.

    Most of my friends are on keybase.io. I wouldn’t call it “social networking” (it’s more like IRC, but with strong encryption, some nifty features. Maybe more like Slack, but with more autonomy. i don’t know what to call it.) Anyhow, it seems to fill my niche in terms of a desired amount of network interaction.

  14. Daemian Lucifer says:

    And now you know why it is called Me We

  15. Nick Powell says:

    The friend request… it’s coming from inside the house!

  16. Jabberwok says:

    The only social media experience I’ve ever enjoyed was LiveJournal, back before Facebook existed. I don’t know what it’s like now, if it’s still around, but there was no curation, no upvoting system, no advertising, no relationship status or other info, just a chronological feed of people’s posts, and all of my friends on it were people whose thoughts I found interesting. Its layout also encouraged meatier entries, rather than the obsessive status updates of Twitter and Facebook. Of course, it became useless once most of my friends stopped using it.

    1. Mark says:

      LiveJournal is exactly the same as it was in 2006. Sadly, nobody uses it any more except Russian porn spammers.

      Oddly, the least irritating social media system for me is Tumblr. Yeah, there are a lot of weirdos there but you don’t have to read them, and in the meantime it’s a) relatively easy to post meaty amounts of text, images, or videos, and b) it does not curate your timeline in any way.

  17. Alan says:

    I bailed on Facebook a while ago as it reliably made me less happy. It was a huge loss as I miss out on updates from a few people I care about, but no matter what I did, it seemed keen on showing me things certain to make me angry or depressed. I get enough of that from the news, thank you.

    Twitter is much more of a mixed bag. The good stuff is pretty reliable, but the bad stuff similarly so. The ease-of-entry makes trolling all too easy, so I’ve found replies to interesting posts to be an attractive nuisance, encouraging me to engage with awful people. I cut myself off for a year, and I think in net it was a win. I’ve been sticking my toe back in the water and experimenting with better ways to engage. My RSS aggregator (NewsBlur) has support to following Twitter accounts in a way that supports strong filtering as well as eliminating replies. That has proven pretty food, especially for humor accounts.

    Google+, however, has proven pretty reliably good. It does do “intelligent” filtering, but there are two important features:

    1. For communities, I have pretty good control over what I see; I can pick between seeing None, Fewer, Standard, or More posts in my main stream (sadly, no “Everything” option), can sort by age or “top posts”, and can optionally get notifications for new posts. (“None” is useful for communities you want to occasionally dip into, but don’t usually want to bother with.)

    2. More usefully, you group people you “follow” into circles, and if you look at a specific circle, you get the raw firehose. So toss everyone you actually are about into a circle (I call mine “Reading List”) and bookmark the circle’s stream.

    The down side is the down side of every also-ran social media site: far fewer people. I’ve found enough for it to be worth it; there is a strong tabletop gaming scene there. But few of my family and friends are there, which is a decided bummer.

  18. Christopher says:

    Lol, that image is a hell of a punchline. I’ve never heard of MeWe before, but I’m not in a rush to join up now, that’s for sure.

    1. To be fair, I’m on MeWe and over 70 of my Facebook friends have migrated as well, and Shamus is the ONLY ONE who had ANY problems, even with a good 20-30 people who had old accounts they had to recover etc.

      Shamus is magic, that’s what it is.

      1. DGM says:

        Maybe he spent too much time hanging out with Josh back in his Spoiler Warning days. Who knew the bug-inducing reality distortion field was contagious?

  19. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    Wow wow everyone, wait a second, how the hell do we know which Shamus wrote this note? Which one is the doppleganger?
    If I know my classics, the evil one should have some form of facial hair…

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Oh my god!The evil Shamus has been duping us for years!

    2. Jabberwok says:

      “Have I been going to bed earlier and earlier? Have I been Shamus for longer and longer?”

  20. Sunshine says:

    I’m imagine a sort of the-new-thing-is-evil horror where accept the invite from your other account, but then other-Shamus starts sending you messages. Initially, it just seems like a bizarre and amusing glitch as it recycles your own posts, but then it makes it own unique messages to communicate with you, and escalates to either taking over your Twitter and sending photos that look like shadow-Shamus is getting closer to your home.

    1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

      And it also hurts your feelings because the other-self account somehow has WAY more friends and likes. Come on guys!

  21. Philadelphus says:

    “I have not yet accepted my friend request” is the funniest sentence I’ve read today — kudos for that one.

    I’ve never been particularly interested in social media (I made a Google+ account back when it came out that I stopped checking after a month or so out of disinterest, and that’s it), so I generally don’t find my self-imposed digital hermitage too onerous, but every so often I have times when I wonder if I should cave to peer pressure and get a Facebook or Twitter account because everyone else uses it to communicate. But then things like the latest snafu happen and remind me that maybe having to actually put in a modicum of effort to communicate and stay in touch with the people I care about isn’t the worst thing that could happen. I’m not really sure where I was going with this; I guess it’s sort of “thanks for detailing your travails with social media to remind some of us that we’re not actually missing out on as much as it sometimes seems”?

  22. MelTorefas says:

    Agreed that SM curation you can’t turn off is the worst. Using Twitter through the website is awful. I use Tweeten currently as a desktop client, and it just works. Haven’t had any weird issues yet. Shows me my timeline, in order, and my mentions, also in order, and that is all I need.

    (EDIT: Though I do wish it supported single-column view. Still better than any alternative I have found.)

  23. I can tell the two accounts apart because the “old” one doesn’t have your “About Me” info on it, but that’s it.

    And I still have no idea how you managed to do this, because nobody else I know of had any problems XD

  24. Scerro says:

    Facebook has been nearly worthless to me for about seven or eight years. Not being able to view my feed in a strictly chronological view and it lying about the other view has made it only worth being a place where people I have met can get a hold of me. That’s literally all I have it for.

    All I expect from a Social Media website is chronological newsfeed of friend’s activity. Is it that hard? Tumblr has that, but it’s image infested and sort of memey. I find it hard to get personal connections there, despite it being the best platform out there for it. But your blog does the job Tumblr would fill for you.

  25. Kestrellius says:

    I suppose this is a mildly apropos place to ask this — Shamus, is the email you have listed on your “about” page current? I attempted to contact you about something a couple weeks back, and never got a response, so I figured I should follow up.

    Apologies if I’m being improper. :/

  26. AMX says:

    It kind of sounds like somebody hijacked your original account, and changed both the password (so you couldn’t log in) and the associated email (so password recovery couldn’t work).
    Then they sent a friend request to your new account.

    1. Droid says:

      That’s some really specific goals this somebody would have to fall under:
      They would have to know that Shamus logged into MeWe in the first place, and somehow get his username and/or email, but more importantly, they would definitely need his password.
      Then they would have to proceed to change not only the account name and password, but first and foremost the e-mail that Shamus used to log into this service, and even merely half-reputable websites write you a confirmation e-mail before anyone can change any of those three. So there’s no way a decent log-in would leave this route open to an attacker.
      Lastly, the attacker would now have to have nothing else they would want to do with the hacked account: Not trolling others, not identity theft, not anything. Just letting Shamus know that they somehow managed to pull this off.

      It’s far more likely that this is just some programming screw-up instead of the combination of a programming screw-up with a mysteriously well-timed and well-informed attack by someone who then proceeds to nullify any advantage s/he would have gotten out of said attack by informing Shamus of their malicious actions before he realized it on his own.

      1. AMX says:

        I was more thinking that they had no particular goal at all, actually – just “huh, this looks kinda insecure, let’s try if I can edit somebody else’s account…”
        And somebody else happened to be Shamus.

  27. Shoeboxjeddy says:

    This MeWe situation is just the “people you may like” algorithm being very accurate. Shamus, this guy sounds JUST like you! You guys have all the same interests! I think you’d get along.

  28. McKracken says:

    Talking about Facebook “alternatives” — has anyone here tried Vero? At least on my side of the ocean, that seems to be a lot more popular than MeWe (point in case: I’d never heard about the latter before this article).

  29. Perhaps you should consider a Discord “server”, it’s a wonderful mix between a forum and text/voice chat.
    It even has a “streamer” mode you can enable when streaming.

    It’s the only communication app I use these days.

  30. Dev Null says:

    Soooo… I strongly suspect this goes without saying, but it would seem likely that your first account has been hacked, and someone changed the email address out from under you. Which does not bode well for their site security. I wouldn’t accept your own friend request, and I’d warn your friends not to fall for any scams coming from either of “you”.

    1. Droid says:

      Really? I wrote a rather lengthy reply four comments above this, arguing against such a scenario being very likely. But with you now being the second person to mention this possibility, I’m starting to have my doubts, as my interaction with websites and -apps is 100% as a user, not a programmer.
      And if scammers are anywhere near as idiotic as spambots are, the “what was their goal” part kinda falls flat, too.

      1. Dev Null says:

        Its a common type of scam on social media sites, though often they work by making a new second account pretending to be you, rather than hacking your first one:

        https://www.techish.com/hacks/how-to-spot-a-facebook-fake-trying-to-scam-you/

        (randomly googled example – that article may well be crap…)

        The next move is generally hitting up your friends and family for money in some way, and/or trying to get at their contacts or enough information to spoof their accounts and spread the plague. It sounds like a ridiculous scam – surely almost no one would send me money without giving me a call first? But it’s easy to automate the scam, and it only has to work 1 time in 10,000 before you’re making money.

    2. Shamus says:

      Since this has come up twice now:

      My password was unique to MeWe and was generated by my password manager. (128 bits, IIRC.) I got no unexpected messages from MeWe regarding password or email changes, which should almost certainly be sent if someone tried to swipe the account.

      It’s still theoretically possible that I was hacked, but I think “wonky bug” is the more likely explanation.

      1. Tuck says:

        Is there such a thing as an unwonky bug?

  31. J says:

    For Twitter, there are many 3rd-party apps which will present all tweets in chronological order. I use Flamingo on Android and the difference between it and the stock Twitter app is stark.

    I would love something similar for Facebook but I don’t believe there is a decent option available. As a result I Red Twitter multiple times a day, but I only check Facebook once a week or so.

  32. ThaneofFife says:

    I use Plume for Twitter, which gives me a completely chronological feed and no auto-playing content. I hadn’t actually know that Twitter stopped giving a chronological feed until very recently.

    My only complaint is that Plume doesn’t support Twitter polls.

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *