No More Twitter

By Shamus Posted Thursday May 2, 2019

Filed under: Rants 117 comments

Twitter gave me a place to throw snark and short observations that wouldn’t work as a full post. It was also a good way to broadcast stuff to all of you to let you know that the site was down. It was a good place to get a feel for the big gaming stories of the day and a good way to see what other creators were up to. It was useful, but I’m done with the platform for good.

I can’t point to a single event that made me quit Twitter. This wasn’t a snap judgement made in response to a single tweet, this was a long process where Twitter itself annoyed me into leaving. However, there was one Tweet that works as a pretty good shorthand for the problem I’m talking about. It said:

Fuck you and everyone who thinks like you.

When viewed directly on the web, Twitter has two main tabs. The first is supposedly a feed of everyone you follow, although maybe this is curated by the system or maybe not. Maybe the tweets are in chronological order or maybe THE ALGORITHM picks a few that it thinks are most important and puts those at the top. There’s an option to disable this, but it’s not clear what the default behavior is, what THE ALGORITHM does, or what the option to disable it does. If I see a tweet from PC Gamer linking to an article and then six hours later I see the same tweet at the top of my feed again, does that mean PC Gamer repeated themselves, or is THE ALGORITHM trying to make sure I don’t miss this one?

I follow some obscure programmers. They almost never show up in my feed. Is that because I’m unlucky and I’m never around when they post, or is THE ALGORITHM hiding these tweets because it thinks they’re not interesting enough to be worth my time? It’s all very vague and the only way to know for sure is to do some deliberate testing. Even if I was in the mood to do some research, there are more interesting things I could be researching. So for years I used Twitter while experiencing this constant anxiety that maybe I was missing something important.

The second tab on Twitter’s webpage is where you can see interactions with other people. This tab has two sub-tabs. The first shows you some tweets you “might have missed” since the last time you visited the page. These are always listed at the top, above everything else. Below that are messages where people are talking to you (or about you) in public. The second tab lists just these messages, without the “In case you missed it” section. So what happens is I’d click on the mentions tab, and then at the top I’d see something like:

Fuck you and everyone who thinks like you.

That person isn’t talking to me, or about me. But their message was popular enough that THE ALGORITHM didn’t want me to miss it.

I don’t know if this design is deliberate, but this strikes me as being a dark pattern. I clicked with the expectation of checking my messages, and instead I’m shown content that doesn’t involve me at all.

Link (YouTube)

For the record, this message…

Fuck you and everyone who thinks like you.

…is not for me. I don’t follow the author. I don’t follow the intended recipient. I’m not mentioned by anyone during the course of their heated argumentIt’s a Twitter-style argument, so each of them makes a thread where they and their followers can dogpile the opposition without anyone exchanging views or having a real conversation.. The topic of their debate has nothing to do with coding, video games, or music, which is what I’ve designed my feed to cover. There’s no reason I need to see this.

This is the equivalent of me going out to check the mail and Twitter stops me to gossip about how a couple of strangers were screaming at each other earlier and I totally missed it.

Twitter does this every single time I check the mail. That tweet of:

Fuck you and everyone who thinks like you.

Is very sticky. Two hours later I refresh the page, and it’s still there. The next day, it’s still there. Every single time I check my messages, I see:

Fuck you and everyone who thinks like you.

Eventually I block the author. I don’t like doing that. She’s engaged in some sort of political dispute and I don’t want to give THE ALGORITHM any reason to believe I’m interested in this topic. I don’t want it to conclude I’m from the opposing party and start showing me the same nonsense from the other team. I just want the nonsense to stop showing up in my mentions. Also, I don’t like blocking strangers who never interacted with me. This woman is a jerk, but she’s not breaking any rules and I’ve heard THE ALGORITHM punishes you if lots of other people block you. I’m not trying to punish her. I just want to be left alone.

But whatever. I’m tired of seeing this message. So I block her. But her message is still there, perched atop the page every single time I check my messages.

People say “Twitter is toxic”. They usually mean the people on Twitter are toxic, but I think a lot of the toxic behavior comes from the platform itself. This message got a lot of “engagement” by way of making lots of people very angry. This created more messages that made more people angry, which resulted in more “engagement” for THE ALGORITHM. Maybe it wasn’t designed to create hatred and outrage, but that’s what the system is doing. The system is showing me this message because it’s hunting for more engagement. It’s looking for more people to join this screaming match. It doesn’t care what I believe, or who is right, or how anyone feels. It just wants interaction, and it doesn’t care if that interaction is friendly or hateful.

I’m willing to bet that at some point during the exchange you found yourself wondering about this message. Who is this woman? Who is she angry at? What did they do to make her so angry? What are they fighting about? That initial message:

Fuck you and everyone who thinks like you.

Contains just enough information to make you curious. If you want to know what it’s about, you have to click through, read the context, and find yourself pulled into the debate. If you do that, THE ALGORITHM wins. Even better, now it has your number. It will be sure to let you know if it finds anything else that might enrage you.

THE ALGORITHM is constantly probing, looking for content to make me angry. If a human being acted that way towards me, I’d get them out of my life as fast as possible. So that’s what I did with Twitter.

Yes, I know there are plugins you can use. I don’t care. Twitter is trying to construct the world’s largest sewer. I don’t want a filter, I want to get out of the water as soon as possible.



[1] It’s a Twitter-style argument, so each of them makes a thread where they and their followers can dogpile the opposition without anyone exchanging views or having a real conversation.

From The Archives:

117 thoughts on “No More Twitter

  1. ngthagg says:

    I moved on from Facebook around the time it switched the feed from being a chronological list of everything my friends had posted to bring a curated list. I was diligent in checking Facebook (maybe addicted is a better word than diligent) and missed very few posts. But then curation stayed trimming posts from my feed in order to emphasize the ones Facebook thought we more important. This meant that I saw less, not more. And so I drifted away.

    I’ve always hated Twitter. As a non user, it’s awful. Half the time I click on a link to a tweet, it fails to load for some reason (Twitter says I’m rate limited, even though I’m maybe a tweet a week). And if I see a reply in someone’s feed that seems interesting, I have never been able to follow that conversation back to the beginning and read the whole thing.

    1. Fizban says:

      I have a couple twitter pages bookmarked as they’re useful for the ‘ol site down/content delayed check in, and I find its response to noscript amusing. To its minor credit, there is a script-less version so I don’t have to whitelist them, but every time I have to click through to “proceed to legacy twitter.” Relevant because used this way, each person’s Twitter is just a stripped down version of a blog, though still with the aforementioned terrible comment threads. At least I think I haven’t noticed those posts being out of chronological order, though the scripted version could certainly screw with things.

      Hmm. Aha- I went to check and see if that page was subscribable, such that one could use a behemoth RSS reader to view a bunch of chronological feeds from individuals, but it seems that twitter feed was one of the things I wanted to RSS that wouldn’t do so. But it’s for something with slow enough/desired enough updates I just check manually.

      1. Gabriel says:

        After turning off scripting, I added the following to my ublock filters and it now loads normal Twitter without the fullscreen pop-up asking to send you to “Legacy Twitter”:^meta[http-equiv=”refresh”]

        Caveat – videos don’t work. I haven’t tried to fix that.

        1. Len says:

          Not to shill for a product or anything, but I use Inoreader (an RSS reader) and on a paid account, they have a feature that allows you to subscribe to people on Twitter, which as far as I can tell effectively produces a chronological RSS feed of that person.

          This allows me to view tweets from people I care about without interference from the algorithm, advertising, or getting dragged into some of the worst “discussions” since the dawn of the Internet.

          1. Canthros says:

            As near as I can tell, the most life-enhancing thing you can do for your use of Twitter, other than stop, is to use any client but Twitter’s.

      2. King Marth says:

        Yep, never created an account and as a result I’ve only ever seen Twitter by directly visiting the page for the person I’m interested in. Same approach I have with tumblr.

        Polling individual pages is pretty inefficient though. It’d be nice if there was some sort of service which could take a Twitter page, or several for people who don’t post that often, and combine the updates together in one “feed” which reliably tracks which ones you’ve read to make it easy to catch up. Shame that Twitter hasn’t built anything like that.

      3. Erik says:

        I use an RSS feed reader for just about everything, so of course I experimented with Twitter. Turns out, I can add Twitter feeds just fine… but it pulls in the equivalent of the posts-plus-mentions tab, so I get not only the person’s posts but every response and side conversation as well. At that rate, I follow only a small group of folk who I can tolerate at that level of depth, mostly folk I know IRL. I’d love to get an equivalent of the just-posts tab, which would let me group all my Twitter follows into one RSS folder to replace my entire Twitter feed. I’ll have to check the link suggestions elsewhere in the comments and see if any of them work.

        For what it’s worth, my RSS aggregator is Bazqux, which is paid but only $15/year, which I find reasonable. I went there after the great Google Reader collapse and have never had a reason to leave.

    2. Adam Faulconbridge says:

      It is possible to still make Facebook work like that (purely chronological posts only) – create a “friend list” and add everyone to it.

      They don’t like that – but I find it far more useful and functional that way.

    3. Thomas says:

      Facebook has pretty much killed itself because of its non-chronological feed. It triggered a whole series of negative feedback loops that’s driven ‘content’ off the site. And now in my circles everyone has an account but no-one uses it or likes using it like they used to.

      There’s a guy who has strong political views I disagree with. I’d make a comment do Facebook would prioritise his posts above everyone else, which would make me shorter and more ill-tempered which lead to rasher comments which led to Facebook prioritising his posts more… In the end I had to block him, which was a shame because it was good to be exposed to other ideas, but I couldn’t take Facebook showing it to me as the first thing every time I logged on.

      Even without negative behaviour, there’s been some science that shows that of everyone only sees the best parts of other people’s lives and the best posts, they become more uncomfortable about their own lives and will only post exceptionally good things. This means Facebook is even more likely to only show you the best bits, so people are even more unlikely to share minor events.

      It turns out those fairly boring posts from that distant friend you like but don’t talk to very much, were an important part to your well-being and to the Facebook system.

      1. Guest says:

        I find the “best bits” thing to be a bit overplayed. Yes, it’s true, yes, it can make you sad, comparing yourself to others. But that seems to be a good chunk of regular social interactions too, people flexing, or demonstrating conspicuous consumption. I’m not sure that it’s necessarily dangerously worse than that.

        The non-chronological feed turns the site into a timesink run around engagement. Groups I visit now plague my timeline with people repeating the same tired feed until I unfollow them, basically removing the point of those groups. Any brands in your likes? Good luck ever hearing from your friends again, you’ve just signed up for ads that go alongside the ones you can’t remove. And the ads are incessant.

        I use the site to organise social events, to talk to my friends, to hear what they’re up to, how they’re doing, not to have some algorithm that prioritises time spent on the site obfuscate those, until a large portion of them no longer use the site, except for messenger.

        It definitely killed it, and it definitely killed it’s utility for me. I prefer instagram because it’s chronological, it literally tells me when I’ve “caught up”, and it doesn’t keep pinging me with notifications that I didn’t sign up for, which is the most annoying new feature, it was bad enough when it was ads, but I do not give a flying shit that someone I don’t know posted something I don’t know I’ll have interest in, in a group I follow of thousands of people. Yeah, Insta gets targetted most for “Best life sadness” crits, but I’d rather see that my buddy lost a ton of weight, taught himself martial arts, and is now competing at a high level and root for him. I’d rather see my mate telling us about his new dog. I’d rather see someone trying out a new makeup look.

        Plus, it’s kind of really bad for commenting and stuff, which means you can’t have a drawn out discussion in comments easily, and that’s not the focus, which cuts down on negative behaviour drastically. It’s not perfect, but a waste of time on there is me learning there’s nothing to see, a waste of time on FB feels like they have deliberately wasted my time.

    4. Scerro says:

      I’m in the same boat for Facebook. My account still remains and it’s there for people to friend and be a page that is easy to network with through my real name, BUT other than that I don’t really use it, I aimlessly scroll through a few times a week.

      The time it became algorithm “curated” is when I dropped it too, since you couldn’t stick to strictly chronological and not have some curated posts in there. Before I could catch up on everything my friends posted, and then reach the end. Now you can still miss things until enough people post on something important for you to be able to see it. It actively sabotages my attempts to see what I want to see.

      I’ve never had issues with Twitter in terms of site/content, but I’ve never been the type to be that involved to make it worth my time. Back when a previous site design was in place I enjoyed seeing Shamus’ updates.

      It is useful for online services to have as a front page “game status” type of page, though. So I still do visit occasionally, but I have never made an account and do not visit the site except for specific pages and when I’m linked to it by someone else.

  2. Fizban says:

    This is why I find it odd whenever someone says RSS feeds are obsolete because of Twitter. I don’t know what any of the differences are between RSS feeds or live bookmarks or whatever, but I know there’s been one or two things that I couldn’t get to appear in the feed and I probably just dropped them (I think it was comics they dropped from the newspaper and I would have followed online? maybe?)

    So, what- if any, difference is there between the various neural network AIs being trained to do x/y/z, and the Twitter ALGORITHM? ‘Cause I’m pretty sure in the end they’re just both made of “algorithms” (I could look up what the word actually means, but it’s more fun to use “”s), and it’s probably not far off to describe Twitter as an AI that has been trained to spread hate.

  3. Geebs says:

    Hey Shamus! I tried to @ you to let you know the entire post is on the front page, but apparently your Twitter is down?

    1. Dave B. says:

      Oh, maybe you should @ him to let him know that his Twitter is down.

  4. Chris says:

    In an attempt to make people more addicted to their platform they pushed people away. People want to know what people they care about are up to, not what the latest mud throwing competition is about. They make a sludge of low effort content to shovel down your throat so they can put in more ads to go with it. I dont care about twitter, I dont use twitter, yet its fallout is so big it keeps spilling over in things i do care about. Open a gaming website? Some twitter posts of devs. Open a gaming forum? Some twitter screencap to start off a thread. Some other website? There is a twitterfeed at the side which are mostly just retweets to make sure the sludge keeps getting repeated.

    Also is it me or is it impossible to search on the twitter website without having an account? I tried to find some kind of search bar but all it does it trying to make you register. Same if you actually got linked and open it on a mobile browser. It immediately pushes you to make an account.

    1. Carlos García says:

      Indeed. And now I saw a news that the founder wants to change it so you don’t follow people but topics. WTF. If I have a Twitter is because I have interest in the people, mainly the crowd from a sports blog that was high quality, mainly by the users, that when the blogger allowed trolls to roam free and the site ended blowing up and from a rather interesting and civilized place where readers could debate and talk about sports stuff turned into a insult feast. Some made Twitter accounts so the rest non trolls followed to keep in touch and recover the chance to keep those conversations going. I want to keep in touch with them, and others who I found that are there and write on interesting stuff and can serve me as an introduction to things or people I see are rigurous with their stuff and help be get a better, broader look on things. Some have helped me become a better man than I was before I came across their accounts.

      When there’s some big thing related to some big crime, I don’t want to read about all the droll of idiots enraged asking to deal with it from brute emotions, I want to read the lawyer who knows the laws and can help with getting a clearer picture of how the legal system works related to that big crime and don’t get swept by the barbaric wave of indignation. I don’t want the crowd of idiots banging on a keeper that failed to save a shot they claim it was easy to save, I want to see the professional goalkeeper trainer who I follow from being in that spots blog who knows how easy or hard that save actually was, as a deeper understanding of a sport improves my enjoyment of it. And so on and so forth.

    2. BlueHorus says:

      In an attempt to make people more addicted to their platform they pushed people away. People want to know what people they care about are up to, not what the latest mud throwing competition is about.

      But DO they?
      You don’t, and I don’t, and Shamus doesn’t, but that doesn’t mean everyone else does. I know several people who will just blindly click on anything that turns up in their Facebook or Twitter feed without a second thought, and any discussion of how useful any given article is just bounces off.

      (Amusingly, someone I know just clicks on every single anti-Trump article that has come their way since 2016 – and now somehow Facebook has them profiled as a Trump voter. They keep getting ads for commemorative coins, MAGA hats and gun holsters. Which is odd, given that they live in the UK.)

      And it’s not that they’re stupid and can’t understand what a Dark Pattern (great phrase/concept, by the way, thanks Shamus)…it’s just that they don’t stop and think.

      Twitter aren’t stupid. They’re almost certainly curating this way deliberately and consciously.

      1. Crokus Younghand says:

        Which is odd, given that they live in the UK.

        It’s odd only if you buy the silicon valley narrative of all the AI advances they are making and how THE ALGORITHM is the bestest, most smartest thing ever created. A narrative which, as you discovered, doesn’t really stand up to reality. Let’s hope the next AI winter comes soon enough.

        1. Joe Informatico says:

          Yeah, and half the time THE ALGORITHM isn’t even lines of code, but thousands and thousands of low-paid tech workers moderating or making other decisions in real-time, often in the global south. Twenty years ago I never would have considered that AI would lead to the digital sweatshop, but here we are.

        2. Kylroy says:

          Honestly, I’ll bet there’s some Trump-worshipers in the UK who’d be all over that stuff. Just…they probably wouldn’t have a Facebook diet of exclusively anti-Trump articles.

          1. Droid says:

            Perhaps not exclusively, but if you think about how much the system prefers engagement from outrage, it’s not completely without reason to think that most Trump supporters would look at a lot of anti-Trump articles because they can’t resist.

      2. Guest says:


        “I know several people who will just blindly click on anything that turns up in their Facebook or Twitter feed without a second thought, and any discussion of how useful any given article is just bounces off.” But DO they?

        People are still using the platform, sure, it has massive momentum, and is integrated into a lot of sites, and a lot of people use the messaging services. It’d take a long time to DIE, but that doesn’t mean people are engaging differently. Many people have noted that the engagement you have with your actual friends has dropped on there. Most of my friends (The same people who pressured me to get it in the first place), don’t even post anymore, and most posts end up being shares or memes.

        Twitter aren’t stupid, but they’re not just malicious for no reason. They’ve prioritised engagement. That’s the reason for every single decision, same with Facebook. Keeping people on the page longer, getting them to interact more, giving them the chance to serve more ads, collect more data, and make more money.

        They are not curating this way deliberately and consciously. They’re not curating at all. They’re simply taking the most popular, or engaged with posts, and prioritising them in the feed. Whether it’s something that people engage in because it makes them happy, or something they engage with because it makes them mad, the ad dollars are the same. It also encourages them to make seeing if you’re up to date, difficult, because then you’ll stay on longer. It’s also why Facebook has been generating more and more “fake” notifications, notifications you shouldn’t be subscribed to, to keep you checking, to keep you engaged, to build it up as a pattern. Their decision making is functionally amoral, and they couldn’t care less if the end result is negative.

        And no, your friend did not sign up to Facebook to be bombarded with mistargetted ads for things they dislike, that’s how they’re currently using it, but people’s behaviour isn’t necessarily the product of conscious thought. People reflexively check their phones etc all the time, they don’t even think about it. Much the same, you can often make people have a dramatic realisation when you just tell them what their decisions would indicate their conscious thought is. Say your friend there, if you pointed out to them that it seems like they end up spending more time unhappy on FB, doing this, than anything else, and ask, is that why you’re logging on? To be miserable and angry? They almost certainly don’t wake up and go “Today I’ll be annoyed at Trump and angry”, if you led them to that point, they’d almost certainly have a pretty big realisation about what their habit actually is.

        Nearly everyone signed up because their friends did, and because that was how they kept in touch, and also how most social groups organise events. Only trolls signed up because they wanted to be random jackasses under some bigger post bickering and getting upset while FB profits.

      3. Decius says:

        They got “Interest: US Politics: Maximum” in their profile, and now they get ads and content that reflect that.

    3. Baron Tanks says:

      Right, that’s how a lot of people feel. The hunt for ‘engagement’ is doing very similar things on YouTube. I am afraid though, that in the sum total this strategy seems to be working, i.e. on average more people (or at least eyeball hours, I’m sure there’s a factor here where getting someone obsessed or ‘fully engaged’ is weighed more favourably than a person casually checking in). Because even in the subtle mumurings of pushback* against this, these engagement driven behemoths are doubling down and not backing of.

      *even when we get to the actual people behind the machines, such as Twitter executives on the Joe Rogan podcast which is my reference. They are at least aware of what this is doing but seem to have decided that ultimately this is the way they want to go, whether that is technology or investor driven is not particularly relevant if the outcome is the same, at least to the end-user

  5. Carlos García says:

    Excuse me, but I have to laugh very hard at the video you linked for the end.
    All talk about dark patterns, how bad they are, then he promotes NordVPN. I wanted a VPN this past January and NordVPN seems to be one of the top three rated ones. But it does one dark pattern that I don’t know if it’s illegal, but it’s rather scammy. What they do is to tell you “we have this amazing discount! Buy it now for just X$ a month! Offer ends in few hours”. I didn’t want to rush plus they don’t accept Paypal and they keep the payment details on their own, allegedly to prevent issues that may happen or had with Paypal? whatever, that bit sounded fishy to me. Anyway, they have that message, offer ends in Xh… but when the time has passed next day and I recheck how it is now that the offer has expired, because it sounded fishy with that, I see there is no offer… but the pricings are exactly the same. Next day the “save 67%, offer expires in Xh…” is up again. Same prices. It’s just that the plans are so the longer they last, the less per month you pay and that’s it. That is the normal pricing. There is an offer telling you how much you can save and that will end in a few hours every two days, but there is no such offer, because the prices and plans are exactly the same both the days with the offer and the days without the offer. So I crossed it off the VPNs I might buy.

    1. Cubic says:

      I have a principle, “everything time limited on the internet is a bluff”. It has served me surprisingly well.

  6. Wangwang says:

    Facebook use to have Interest list, which list all posts from page that you add to the list in chronological order. It’s very convenient to follow the activity of a few selected pages that I like. So naturally Facebook have to get rid of it.

  7. Gunther says:

    I haven’t seen this problem in my Twitter feed but I very much have on YouTube, where THE ALGORITHM has apparently decided that, despite me watching mostly synthwave music videos and LetsPlays of Hearthstone, what I really want to see is politics. And by “politics” I mean videos where hollow-eyed fanatics rant about how evil their outgroup is.

    And no amount of clicking “Not Interested” seems to convince THE ALGORITHM otherwise.

    1. PPX14 says:

      Youtube’s other delightful feature is to show you videos of a game you might be interested in, including those with Spoilers in the title or thumbnail :)

      1. Gurgl says:

        Beats the YouTuber tardface.

    2. tmtvl says:

      I don’t understand why Youtube’s homepage isn’t the subscription feed. That’s literally the only thing I’m interested in.

      1. PPX14 says:

        It’s a perfect example of how these things try to push users to trending content or to expand use beyond just choosing what you like and following it – to essentially be a tabloid newspaper. Not only do we have Home which is some of your subscriptions plus some random/popular stuff, we also have an entire section of Trending (on the app)!

        The Home tab on the app often tricks me into thinking it is the subs feed and I scroll through it. The other day I watched a video of a dog meeting a capybara as a result.

        1. TheCheerfulPessimist says:

          That sounds like an awfully happy accident, though. Capybaras are just so wholesome!

          1. PPX14 says:

            It kept nuzzling the dog under its chin in a matter of fact way and recoiling from the dog trying to lick its face. Strange gait though!

        2. Steve C says:

          Youtube is worse than that. At least on my chrome tablet.

          1. There’s no way to scroll down through my subscriptions without accidentally clicking on them. A single non-interactive area of the screen that only works for scrolling would be great.
          2. Now that I’ve loaded up a video I don’t want to watch there is no way to close it. Most I can do is minimize it using a tiny button that maximizes it half the time instead. If I miss the button then it will load another video.
          3. If I maximize a video, my back button disappears. It is the only time my back button disappears in any app. Google running both YT and the OS has its privileges.
          4. Once I’ve finally got back to my subscription list from any video (desired or not) it will remain minimized and playing in the bottom right corner of the screen. Even if it is finished.
          5. With an unwanted video box blocking my view, I can now close it, but not easily. I have to right-swipe it off the screen. Which ALSO doesn’t work half the time. Half the time it starts playing again or going to the next video and the whole bullshit starts again.

          That’s just the interface. That does not include all the recommendations to rewatch videos I’m both subscribed to and already seen. I can’t even go to the subscribed channel I want. They are in a random order that makes no sense to me.

          All I want to do is watch a video I’ve subscribed to. Why make this so difficult? Well it is a dark pattern to force extra clicks. It increases clickthrough rates so it has to be working right? /s Plus it is going to take a few seconds and result in more ads.

          BTW thanks Shamus for teaching me the term Dark Pattern. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently.

          1. Gurgl says:

            Try using YouTube in your browser instead. The browser called Brave has a merciless ad blocker, allows background media play from any source, and you can just set your YouTube shorcut to your subscription page.

            I tend to become irrationally furious when I see clickbait thumbnails and titles so this solution was really helpful.

    3. DerJungerLudendorff says:

      Youtube really likes to push them for some reason.
      If you go to the reccommended list with a clean profile, half your video’s will be three hour word salads of some white dude about the DOWNFALL OF THE WEST or something.

    4. Retsam says:

      With YouTube, I’ve found you pretty much have to delete stuff from your history to stop it from making suggestions for a “popular” topic – (but once you do, I’ve found it fixes the problem immediately). For me I have more issue with stuff like movies or games than politics. I’ve learned to watch those sort of videos in incognito mode just to avoid polluting my history.

    5. Sleeping Dragon says:

      Interesting in that YouTube’s ALGORITHM is the one that’s been doing pretty well by me, I use it for Let’s Plays, some music and occasional funny video. With LPs it sometimes does try to give me those clickbate’y “10 things you didn’t know about Skyrim” “15 shocking choices you didn’t know you made in a video game” videos but they’re usually not the first position on the list and it at least learned that it should still serve me the next instalment, that said most YouTubers have a presence of mind to just put their series in a playlist. However I have been rather pleasantly surprised with ALGORITHM’s music selection, if I keep coming back to a band it autoplays more things by that band and only throws something different in after a number of tracks and I actually found a couple neat toons as they felt in similar style to the stuff I was listening to. Oddly enough I don’t think I’ve ever liked or disliked a video and while I did subscribe to a couple channels I stopped checking that feed a long time ago and rather drop by bookmarked pages or channel libraries.

  8. PPX14 says:

    As someone who has no interest in Twitter nor in getting a Twitter account, I occasionally end up on there via a google search or link in an article and end up looking at stuff that people have posted, usually pictures, but sometimes I come across a debate/argument (e.g. Anthony Horowitz’s apology and original comment about his thoughts on Idris Elba as James Bond).

    What I have noticed (other than people not seeming to be able to debate calmly or coherently, and Twitter being the equivalent in media debate consumption as a tabloid or Youtube comments), is that Twitter has an AWFUL interface for following these things! For me at least! Last night investigating something I could see someone’s posts, could see replies to them, but I couldn’t see what they were in response to!

  9. Syal says:

    That video gets way too close to that guy’s eye for way too long. A shot like that is supposed to last a couple of seconds, not set up camp overnight.

    …oh right, Twitter. I only ever followed it from here. Tried to follow some people you linked a couple of times and it turned out they all had walls of political posts so I stopped trying to do that.

  10. PPX14 says:

    Sergeant Jeffords: I know. But like it or not, the decision is political, and social media is a part of politics now. You need a Twitter account.
    Captain Holt: Not gonna happen. The whole thing is inane. Besides, 140 characters is far more than anyone needs to make a point.
    Sergeant Jeffords: They actually upped it to 280.
    Captain Holt: Oh, good God.

    1. Gargamel Le Noir says:

      Nine nine!

  11. Crokus Younghand says:

    Let’s not even talk about Youtube which decides that because I watch video game analysis videos, I must be interested in the whole American gamergate/alt-right/neo-nazi nonsense. I live in India, by the way, but THE ALGORITHM thinks I am interested in American politics; and who am I to disagree with THE ALGORITHM?

    1. Joe Informatico says:

      I recently saw a woman on Twitter respond to a tweet about rising divorce rates, and for a second thought–“that premise doesn’t sound right”. Until I took a quick look at her account and some others in the reply chain and realized these were all East African women arguing about a trend specific to their countries. (Or maybe it’s not, but they were discussing issues related to them and not the rest of the world.)

      Well a couple days later an American woman stumbled across the same tweet and responds with a whole chain of tweets arguing that the divorce rate among millennials is actually lower than their parents and blah, blah and I could only think: You fell right into the trap I almost did, had I not taken a minute to figure out the context. It is kind of amazing the way many Americans think everything is about them, but it’s also not like THE ALGORITHM bothers to take that context into account either, right? Like somehow THE ALGORITHM decided that both this woman and I, both in North America, needed to witness this raging debate about local issues halfway around the world, and also have the opportunity to interject our irrelevant, uninformed, and un-asked-for opinions.

      1. Crokus Younghand says:

        Well, THE ALGORITHM is not really an algorithm is the traditional sense of the word. It’s probably a data model or a neural network trained on big data. So, american companies obviously only train on american data and silicon valley VCs obviously can’t wait to roll the product worldwide in pursuit of exponential growth. Yay globalization!

    2. Thomas says:

      YouTube recommendations can send you on some twisted paths.

      On a lighter note they sent me down:
      Science videos -> engineering -> civil planning -> roller coaster enthusiasts -> chess -> videos of a guy solving puzzles -> marble Olympics

      But it’s all too easy to watch videos of a guy who likes swords, and then it turns out he’s a bit anti-liberal so suddenly YouTube is drowning you in conspiracy videos and politics

      1. lurkey says:

        I often watch gaming related videos and sometimes Star Wars related videos. Apparently Youtube decided that gamer + Star Wars = misogynistic incel and flooded my recs with angry “Star Wars females bad!!!!” rants. Started blocking every fucking thing until it settled with music videos only.

  12. Dreadjaws says:

    I only really use Twitter for contests and such (i.e. “retweet for a chance to win a key for this game”), so I don’t directly go to the website. I’m glad I don’t, because it looks like an utter disgrace. I still receive regular e-mails from Twitter detailing tweets about people I don’t care about that say things that are incomprehensible out of context, but those go now squarely to the spam folder.

    YouTube is becoming a bit of a problem for me now, though. Watching several videos about something I care about might make the system recommend me one or two similar ones, but watching one video about some lunatic complaining about other YouTubers not agreeing with him suddenly has my feed filled with similar ones, even if I downvoted the video. It takes me weeks of careful picking to weed out these elements to make my feed something relatively normal again, but they’re never truly completely gone, and I have to be careful not to accidentally click on one of those lest I start the whole process again.

    Also, I noticed a dark pattern as well. The “Subscribe” button looks exactly the same for subscribing to a channel and for subscribing to a theme, which is basically a collection of completely different videos of completely different styles from completely different authors marginally related to each other by a subject, such as “Animation” or “Bruce Banner”. If I happened to click on the latter, my feed would be drowned on videos that at some point mention the Hulk. Between those videos I spot:

    – Clips from movies where Hulk shows up
    – Avengers reviews
    – Commercials
    – Toy reviews
    – Fan animations
    – Videogame Let’s Plays
    – Top 10 lists
    – YouTube poops
    – People having their kids dress up and play
    – Arguments about adaptations
    – Videos about Iron Man in which Hulk maybe has a cameo

    And many, many more. Sure, I like the Hulk, but that list up there alone is made up of a bunch of unrelated subjects only a few of which I’d find interesting, all of them by different authors, many of which I’ve already shown dislike for by downvoting their videos. So if I were to click that “Subscribe” button accidentally (say, by spotting a video by some author I’ve seen before and liked, and thinking I was subscribing to their channel) my feed would be filled to the brim with stuff I don’t care about and stuff I deliberately try to avoid.

    And how does YouTube handle my feedback? By occasionally taking a random video from my history and asking what did I think of it. But not in any sort of meaningful, measurable way. They just ask me to rate it on a scale from “One of the best videos I’ve seen” from “One of the worst”. Nothing about the video’s subject, nothing about its author, no context. Nothing that can in any way measure what was that I liked or disliked about that video to further use as a way to specialize recommendations. If I say I disliked it, will it take it as a sign that I disliked the subject, the style, the author, the argument or any combination of them? It won’t let me leave any clarification, so it’s an entirely pointless system, and I hate it. I always ignore it when it shows up.

    1. Fizban says:

      Downvoting/disliking/etc something is still considered “engagement,” so that’ll be part of why doing so suddenly results in a flood. Sounds like the best thing to do is ignore it, block it, or never click anything you might not want to see more of unless you’re in some version of “incognito” mode.

    2. Decius says:

      YouTube doesn’t use a human-crafted algorithm to provide recommendations. It’s a neural net using multi-armed bandit strategy.

      It doesn’t exactly use anything human-specified as the reason for a suggestion; it only cares what the payoff was.

      If it lasts an infinitely long time, it can figure out things like subject, style, and the rest- but that will require infinite time.

  13. Cinnamon Noir says:

    Twitter is like the logical endpoint of the “hot take” culture that’s emerged in recent years, and I hate both of them. When you’re in a public forum, it makes sense to think about what you say and be as concise and conciliatory as possible. On Twitter, second thoughts are discouraged and almost no one has them. The result is that almost everyone with a regularly updated Twitter feed has hundreds of tweets every month that aren’t worth the second it takes to read them.

    Political discussions are bad enough when you’re in the room with the other person, you sort of know them, and you have as much time as you need to hash things out. Twitter is like a room where you and a total stranger are each allowed to enter for ten seconds at a time alternately and write your next point on a Post-It note, without ever seeing the other person. And other people keep coming into the room and writing obscenities on your Post-Its.

    I know throwing away Twitter isn’t a decision you made lightly, Shamus, but I never had an account to begin with, and I’m starting to think I dodged a bullet. Even the people I really like have never posted anything on Twitter that I feel my life would be incomplete without. There are better platforms out there, platforms that are more transparent about their processes and more consistent in the application of their founding principles. Twitter’s first use was basically as a digital beeper to replace business memos inside a company; like with Google, I think that first application was their best and the only one they were thoroughly good at.

  14. Karma The Alligator says:

    Never used Twitter, and that just confirms that I want to stay as far away from it as possible. It really seems like a miserable experience.

  15. Hal says:

    You’ve expressed my own sentiments fairly well, albeit with different circumstances.

    I put aside Twitter for Lent, having seen how much time I was spending on it. I could tell you things about the content I get through it for a variety of interests, but in truth it’s the constant stream of bite-sized information nuggets that kept my brain hooked.

    Now Easter has come and gone . . . and I’ve been back once or twice. The thing is, I went back, and there was just this unending barrage of sewage. Angry people saying angry things because it’s the internet.

    You could argue I just need to unfollow/block certain people. You could suggest I use their “list” feature to curate my content to suit my particular needs. But this:

    Yes, I know there are plugins you can use. I don’t care. Twitter is trying to construct the world’s largest sewer. I don’t want a filter, I want to get out of the water as soon as possible.

    This resonated. I can load individual twitter pages to search for content. I can go to actual websites to get articles. I don’t need to constant FOMO, the anxiety of seeing all the anger of the world distilled into a single datastream, the latent fear of stoking a twitter mob. Thanks, but I’m good.

  16. Asdasd says:

    Twitter seems to make people miserable and angry. Given its continued popularity, I can only conclude that that’s exactly what a lot of people, on some level, want to be.

    1. Crokus Younghand says:

      Civilization seems to make people poor and hopeless. Given its continued popularity, I can only conclude that that’s exactly what a lot of people, on some level, want to be.

      1. Asdasd says:

        See, that’s cute, but if you check any of the developmental indexes the evidence shows the trend of civilisation is to make people increasingly better off and less hopeless.

        1. Erik says:

          Built into those trend statistics is the basic assumption that being poor and hopeless is better than being dead. Since about 50% of people used to die before the age of 12 pre-civilization, I would actually agree with Crokus – a lot of people do want to be poor. I disagree with his implication because the reason they want to be poor is that being poor is way better than being dead. Being poor is fixable, being dead isn’t.

          And civilization has shown a long trend of more people moving up the scale from never concieved->dead->subsistence poor->working poor->middle class->rich. There are more people every year, and there are more people at each level up the scale every year. We n

          1. tmtvl says:

            Oh god, he stopped typing! This is like all those System Shock logs! Erik, are you all right?

            1. Crokus Younghand says:

              L-L-Look at you, Erik…

          2. BlueHorus says:

            We n

            …ever hear what Erik had to say after this, and it was a great shame. He was building up to something; what was it?!

    2. Karma The Alligator says:

      Not sure about wanting to be, but I’d say what they want to see. Too many people enjoy watching others suffer (they’ve been conditioned to that by soap operas -those things are built on constant suffering, and they last a long time).

    3. Guest says:

      Not the conscious one, so want is the wrong word.

      Anger is a powerful motivator. They see something negative, they add in something negative, and become part of it. They likely didn’t prioritise the negatives, the platform did, because it prioritised something else.

      Like drinking, gaming, or pretty much any hobby, it’s pretty easy to do something past the point where you remember why you do it, or why you enjoyed it. Most people don’t realise those facts right away.

  17. ElementalAlchemist says:

    Didn’t you already quit Twitter months ago? I was sure there was an article about that.

    1. Chad Miller says:

      It was mentioned offhand in a podcast a couple weeks ago. (at least a comment or two suggested a post about it since the anecdote was so perfect and now it can be linked)

  18. JDMM says:

    I can’t remember where it was but apparently Jack (the twitter CEO type person) has put out statements indicating he sees twitter as some sort of debate forum and while certainly it has a secondary purpose of being that (if world leaders become twitterers you can’t avoid it) as you exemplify the majority of twitter users seem to want some sort of personal development thing, a business thing without the messiness of Facebook

    1. zackoid says:

      You can tell he’s full of crap, because if they actually wanted an online platform for debating , it would be structured almost exactly the opposite of how Twitter is structured. Like you couldn’t make a platform less suited for it if you tried.

      And that theoretical debate platform would have to be moderated, or as it’s known in Silicon Valley, the dreaded M-word, so that’s right out.

      1. Bloodsquirrel says:

        Silicon Valley is hardly afraid of “moderation”. They’ve been de-platforming people for a while now, to the point where the most laughable part of the idea of Twitter as a debate forum is that anyone seriously debating on it is liable to get banned if they share a viewpoint that the Twitter Trust & Safety Council disagrees with.

        1. Hal says:

          They have a bit of a “no-win” situation as it stands.

          If they leave things completely untouched and unmoderated, it becomes a complete mess. At the very least, you get lots of complaints that they just let (Insert your favorite villains here) say whatever they want and it’s making the world a worse place.

          If they start moderating comments, they’re now a publishing medium/platform, which subjects them to the same regulations as other media entities.

          They don’t want the regulation that comes from the latter (and have so far managed to avoid it), but they have applied a heavy hand in avoiding the stigma of the former. I can see where they’re coming from, but I feel like neither Twitter nor Facebook have done themselves any favors in the handling of it, either.

        2. Guest says:

          They are actually, they heavily resist actively engaging in moderation. It’s only been in the last two years that we’ve seen any real crackdowns on people spreading malicious lies and harassment, like say, Alex Jones. I don’t want to cross the No Politics rule, and I know I’m stepping close, but it’s absolutely a violation of the rules to spread lies about shooting victims and incite harassment against their surviving family, and Jack resisted removing him right until Alex started heckling him.

          SV doesn’t want moderation, moderation is a cost that scales upwards with how popular your platform is and requires hiring thousands of employees. They want the simplest solutions to moderation. And especially in terms of a platform for “debate”, actual debates are incredibly heavily moderated, and twitter is nothing like that.

  19. Abnaxis says:

    It deserves being said here:

    Thank you thank you thank you THANK YOU for not using a Facebook plugin or expecting everyone to pile on Twitter to make comments on your blog. I absolutely detest sites that use social media as their site forum, for exactly this reason–if you’re going to make me choose between feeding the social media beast or never engaging with your content/community, I’m choosing the latter.

    1. Matthew Downie says:

      “Thank you and everyone who thinks like you.”

      1. Karma The Alligator says:


    2. Scampi says:

      I definitely second this point of view.

  20. Kieran says:

    Whenever people talk about THE ALGORITHM like that, I’m always reminded of this video.

    “Will we next create false gods to rule over us?” is such a great quote from a game filled with great quotes. Not to mention a great premise for a sci-fi novel.

    1. MadTinkerer says:

      It’s even creepier when you realize that some people in real life are serious about doing just that. Literally “Hey, there’s no such thing as an actual God, so let’s make an artificial one instead. No, not as a thought exercise, I’m trying to start a real religion here. By the way, I need donations for server maintenance.” without a hint of irony. I don’t think most of them have gotten very far, because their “gods” still can’t consistently beat the Turing test, but it’s kind of worrying that they even want to try.

      1. Kieran says:

        I think it’s hilariously ironic, really, considering that the people who believe in the supremacy of AI are usually the same kind that dismiss religion as superstition.And then frighten themselves into proselytizing for an insane computer-god that might possibly exist. It isn’t so much Pascal’s Wager as it is Pascal’s Panicked Bank Run.

  21. MadTinkerer says:

    I still have my Twitter account, but I can’t take the time to check it more than once every couple of weeks. The people I’m subscribed to mostly tweet about games, especially Indie games, so 99% of what I get is about Indie games. But I did have to unsub from Chris Franklin because some of the tweets he was retweeting was confusing THE ALGORITHM about what I wanted.

    From what I can tell, retweets at least sometimes seem to take priority over normal tweets. Especially if they are political. I was getting more tweets about what Chris thought was biting political commentary than about what he was actually tweeting about. This didn’t just happen with Chris but with a few others who made the mistake of not realizing that Twitter was boosting anything they retweeted that was remotely political, and actually preventing me from seeing most of what they were actually tweeting.

    Part of the problem is that the people I was subbed to clearly didn’t know this was happening at all, but the main problem is that THE ALGORITHM changes all the time and there’s no notification for this kind of stuff. Some guy can make a hundred tweets about cool game products and I’ll see most of it. Then he’ll retweet something as a “take that” to [insert politician here] and make another hundred tweets about cool game products but the only thing THE ALGORITHM will put in my feed is the “take that” tweet. I don’t want to tell people what they can and can’t retweet, especially with THE ALGORITHM watching. It’s desperately waiting for me to participate in, or cause, drama so it can boost the drama and drown out all the civil discussion about games with novel mechanics.

    I’m more than a little scared that if I use Twitter to explain what’s happening that THE ALGORITHM will interpret it as DRAMA and everyone’s feeds will get polluted by me suggesting people be careful about their retweets and then actual drama will happen and I’ll get a ton of followers who actually do want to hear all about the sweet social media drama they crave, and that would be a complete disaster.

    I also needed to unsub from Mumbles too at some point. It wasn’t quite the same thing, but THE ALGORITHM was like “Hey, I know most of her tweets are about the games she’s playing, but maybe you’ll find this one controversial? Hmmmm? Oh look at what she retweeted, this is about DRAMA. Surely you want DRAMA and not dumb nerd talk, right?”.

    Incidentally, Shamus was the second person I ever unsubbed from Twitter, long before Chris and Mumbles. It was an easy decision because his Twitter feed was right there on the Twenty Sided main page so I could just read that instead.

    1. Mark says:

      The old saying goes “never meet your heroes.” The modern version would be “never subscribe to your heroes’ Twitter feed.” Because it’ll turn out to be constant uninformed screaming about some politician or whatever the official media outrage of the week is.

      1. MadTinkerer says:

        But that’s not the worst part! It’s not anything Chris and Mumbles were saying, it’s what THE ALGORITHM was disproportionately promoting instead of what they were actually saying! Unsubbing made it easier to find out what they were actually tweeting about because I had to go to their actual pages and read what they actually wrote.

        But it’s not true of all Twitter users. Some twitter users stick exclusively to boring nerdy stuff THE ALGORITHM doesn’t care about, and then I get a nice even spread of their actual tweets and a few amusing but not especially dramatic retweets. It’s when a user posts usually boring nerdy stuff* and then makes the mistake of retweeting DRAMA that THE ALGORITHM decides to bury their content in favor of showing me the drama-retweets. And of course there’s no indication of which retweeted tweets will mess with the sub feeds of your followers.

        It’s almost certainly related to the general algorithmic woes Shamus mentions above, but the contrast is more glaring to me because of the specific people in my sub feed.

        *To be clear, I mean this completely ironically because what I’m calling “boring nerdy stuff” is all the stuff I actually want to see. But clearly that’s what THE ALGORITHM thinks, because that’s how it acts.

        1. Guest says:

          Too true.

          Retweet or share of an article that’s inflammatory and already highly engaged in? Right at the top.

          Actual post written personally by the user that only really has an audience among their followers, and only a portion of them?

          Might as well not have been posted.

      2. Kestrellius says:

        Never Tweet your heroes.

    2. Sleeping Dragon says:

      I think what happens is that THE ALGORITHM sees a political tweet that is retweeted a lot and gives it “weight” (it might also factor popular tags or keywords to determine that, point is the tweet becomes “heavy”), then when Chris retweets it suddenly your twitter feed has been visited by a message that is much “heavier” than anything Chris posted or will post because it carries with it the baggage of all the other interactions and retweets, utterly ignoring whether it has anything to do with anything that Chris usually posts or whether it has any relation to you.

      Twitter clearly does this or something similar on purpose, the only question is whether it is to keep you informed of the most important things (and mostly failing to recognize what you would find important) or if it is too maximize the amount of traffic by giving you posts that will potentially stir drama and trying to provoke even more reactionary tweets (or at least interaction like opening the whole conversation), personally I subscribe to the theory that it’s the latter reason but I will admit the line is probably somewhat blurry and I have no evidence one way or another.

      1. MadTinkerer says:

        Well it certainly seems that way to me.

  22. zackoid says:

    I cannot recommend more highly turning off search history / being logged out / using incognito mode highly enough for Youtube and other algorithmic content.

    That way you can actually watch what you want and a single misclick doesn’t fill your feed with 10,000 Ben Shapiro DESTROYS or flat-earth videos.

  23. Joe Informatico says:

    A few years ago, I remember hearing the adage “Facebook turns your friends into strangers; Twitter turns strangers into friends.” And at the time, it rang true to me. I stopped checking Facebook years ago after seeing too much ignorant bullshit from friends of mine and some really dumbass arguments (and I can only imagine it’s worse now). I didn’t delete or deactivate my account because I figure if Facebook is just going to create a shadow profile of me if I’m not using it, I might as well squat on my own identity and keep it as clear and boring as possible.

    But Twitter has steadily transformed from the place for jokes, self-promotion, slice-of-life anecdotes, and a replacement for my RSS feeds into just another online outrage machine. I’ve been off Twitter since last week, trying to avoid AVENGERS: ENDGAME spoilers until I can go see it, and it’s calming? I’ve managed to finish two ebooks in that time so I’m thinking it’s time to get off for good.

  24. Kathryn says:

    That message doesn’t actually make me curious to find out more, because I know exactly what I’ll find. It’s like when some weird term gets used on a certain blog I read, and the next fifty comments are people saying “I regret looking that up” or “Ewwww!” Maybe there was a time when I, too, succumbed to curiosity and checked Urban Dictionary, but the burned hand teaches best. I’m happier not knowing.

    I dropped Twitter in the lead up to the 2016 election for obvious reasons. I haven’t really missed it. (I have thought about going back for F1 Twitter – sometimes the teams get a little spicy with each other, which can be funny – but the best of that gets shared on other websites anyway.)

    1. BlueHorus says:

      there was a time when I, too, succumbed to curiosity and checked Urban Dictionary

      Ah, yes. The classic mistake. Now I have learned something I cannot unlearn, and know better.
      Happens to everyone.

      1. TheCheerfulPessimist says:

        Ah, Urban Dictionary. Truly the WebMD of slang, except the answer is always sex instead of cancer.

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          As someone who worked as both English translator and teacher I remember when Urban Dictionary was actually very, very useful, it caught up on a lot of slang terms quicker than most other sources and was relatively safe to search in. As in, you could still stumble upon graphical description of a sexual practice but it would at least be just a description and, unlke typing it into google, would not give you images or links to porn sites.

          I’ve heard since then the site had degenerated due to increase in popularity and lack of (or very limited) moderation.

  25. Canthros says:

    I really miss when Twitter was just people talking about their lunch.

  26. Fon says:

    I wonder if a social media that does the opposite of Twitter would be popular. You know, one that actually shows stuff that you’re following? One focuses on actual chronology of the people whom you’re following instead of what their algorithm think is important? (They can still show you stuff that might interest you, but that should be kept in a separated tab of its own, completely optional, and NOT the first thing you see.) Bonus point if they actually discourage that kind of shouting match/hateful debate/dogpile fight. Would this be an opportunity for someone else to step in?

    1. Clareo Nex says:

      Use lists. They do exactly that, and include replies from one person on the list to another. If you use a private list, it also avoids the follow/unfollow drama. If you don’t want to hear someone anymore, you can remove them without thinking about it.

      Just to avoid a second comment: one of the things you can do with an adblocker is block the youtube recommendations frame. I’ve also blocked about half the frames on Twitter, including ‘who to follow’ and the notifications button.

    2. tmtvl says:

      Something like Mastodon? That’ll never take off.

  27. Neil D. says:

    Sure can’t blame you. I’m not a big Twitter user but you were one of the few feeds I would periodically check in on to see what interesting stuff you had to say. I don’t know if your website software (WordPress?) has any kind of similar plugin that you could add as a sidebar or something, for those off-handed comments that don’t quite warrant a full post – but if it did, that would be awesome.

  28. Ramsus says:

    From the start I only had facebook and twitter accounts just for the the few times a year when I have to check something on one of those for information about something being down or whatever.
    I saw all of this pointless negativity coming from the start. It was obvious to me that social media was going to be this toxic thing that held no value to me and would probably be bad for everyone else sooner or later. When you take conversations from including just who the participants want to include and as long as people naturally feel they should be and change it to short things that everyone on the whole internet can jump in on… it just seemed obvious to me that this was not going to be pretty.

  29. Fabrimuch says:

    Bless you and everyone who thinks like you.

  30. Sartharina says:

    I wish I could use Twitter more – or Tumblr, but Tumblr banned all the content I used to follow (Furry art for assorted tastes).

    I miss the social feed of art and talking to artists, but Twitter’s gonna Twitter, and Tumblr tumbled.

  31. Retsam says:

    A smart move overall, but RIP all of the Shamus tweets that I had favorited. I think my favorite was along the lines of:

    Asking to install a browser toolbar is like asking to have rough unprotected sex: allowing me to say no doesn’t make it okay to ask

  32. Xpovos says:


    Another well-written piece. I went to share it with a friend, with whom I have had a number of conversations where I’m anti-SM (Twitter/FB particularly) and he’s not, so I figured it would be a useful discussion point for round #357 of that particular debate. As he came on over, he got an error message that I wanted to share.

    Slight irony the the probably appropriate use of UI/UX to get the user to not click through here.

  33. Water Rabbit says:

    To me the most insidious trend is “journalists” using Twitter as a “source” for their news articles. So they create an article composed solely of different tweets from people whose opinions are ill informed at best. It is a totally annoying trend.

    IMHO, Twitter has been a major contributor to the toxicity and coarsening of our public discourse .

    1. tmtvl says:

      Funniest is when they use screenshots of tweets, ’cause those can’t be easily faked at all!

      (Protip: use the web archive to archive a tweet you want to save.)

      1. Mephane says:

        The purpose of screenshots is not to provide some false sense of authenticity, but a peculiarity of Twitter – you can delete any of your tweets even after people have replied to it, retweeted it, embedded it on their website etc. The linked tweet would then show up everywhere as a placeholder saying “tweet was deleted”. (In a normal forum, if you quote and reply to someone, that quote would stay intact even if the original text is removed, so people still know what you actually responded to.)

        And of course people make use of that, if they found their tweet blows up, attracts a toxic audience, turns out to be embarassing or others poorly reflecting upon themselves, and they eventually delete it.

        Imagine a discussion here in the comments but Shamus has replaced the OP with “article deleted” and someone who just got here has no idea what people are even talking about. This happens all the time on Twitter so you definitely need to make a screenshot at least as a backup plan in case the original tweet ends up being deleted.

    2. SkySC says:

      Regardless of how young and hip twitter may have once seemed, it often appears that the main userbase is politicians, political journalists, and political activists. This may explain why it’s such a cesspit. I wish the newspapers (hell, at least one single newspaper) would adopt a rule of never mentioning twitter, instead of quoting tweets so extensively that they often link them directly into the articles.

      1. Ander says:

        Sometimes – in fact quite recently – politicians have been known to announce a government coup on Twitter. As one of my coworkers said, “How best to incite and reach the people of the day? Its no different than a call for action using the radio, tv, or newspaper”

    3. Tetsubara Kaori says:

      God, those are the worst. Those articles that are like “the internet is outraged about x!” and the source is just three random tweets from nobodies.

      How am I supposed to know you didn’t just have three of your friends make fake tweets about the topic so you could write this article?

  34. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    Apparently there are ways to turn twitter feeds into RSS feeds, avoiding this dollar store HAL entirely. Hope it works.

  35. Alberek says:

    If this is what a regular old algorithm can do when it has to deal with humans…
    I wonder what would a full AI do…

  36. Bob Case says:

    I remember back when Twitter first came out, I thought to myself “what is this for?” It seemed to do the same thing you could do with a message board, only worse. Now apparently it has some uses, but nowadays I’m thinking that my old-fart decision to just not make an account was the right one.

    Even now I find it hard to use. Whenever there’s a twitter conversation it takes way too many clicks to figure out who said what to who and in what order. The way they handle pictures is terrible. They blow up the picture, then crop it. Very often I click on a thumbnail only to get a SMALLER version of the picture in it. And if you want to post significant text you have to either post it in image form or do this thing that’s ridiculously called a “tweetstorm.”

    I was disappointed to learn that Twitter has recently started turning a profit. It’s probably going to be around for a while.

  37. Mistwraithe says:

    Great article Shamus.

    Unfortunately, the big internet companies (Google/YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc, even Steam, Apple, etc with gaming algorithms) are all following the money and the reality seems to be that showing the most popular posts (whether that popularity comes from angered debate or otherwise) is far, far more lucrative than actually showing content which matches the viewer’s preferences.

    Both Steam and the Apple iOS store do an absolutely awful job of showing me games that I am actually interested in. Instead most of the top results are usually just whatever happens to be most popular. I searched for Galaxy Trucker on the iOS store some months ago and the game actually called “Galaxy Trucker” came 9th in the list after a variety of other games including Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, Tetris, and various other games, several of which (like Tetris) had nothing to do with either the galaxy or trucker words.

    I honestly don’t know what can be done about it. Presumably the proportion of the human race who will just click on those first few popular/inflammatory links rather than look for what they initially wanted sufficiently outnumbers the rest of us that we’re effectively doomed if we want a less populist future.

  38. David C says:

    Time to once again give thanks to the Twitter client I use (Janetter), which gives me a full chronological feed of those I follow, and always remembers where I was up to and lets me load the rest to fill in the gap when I stop reading. I think it has some gaps in thread reading, but otherwise it gives me a very different Twitter experience to what Seamus described here …

    1. Ben Matthews says:

      That’s nice if you got on-board when Janetter was still alive. I used to use it back in the day, until Twitter killed it with that stupid token limit nonsense for third-party apps. Still salty about that, Janetter was great :/

  39. paercebal says:

    For what is worth, if (and only **if**) you’re looking for a replacement, you could try (CoSo, for short)

    While the community is smaller, it has the advantage of having a… smaller community, focused on being decent humans, and moderators that kill trolls on sight. Much, much less toxic, IMHO. Also, there’s no way to see posts if you’re not signed in, which can be both a blessing, and an annoyance (YMMV).

    As an example, here’s the (anonymized) copy/paste of the most recent posts of the current time line:


    Aaack! I overslept. Have a great day! Ya’ll make me want to stay home! Xoxo


    It was my understanding that Thor 3 established Mjolnir as the vessel for Thor to use his powers…so how does Cap summon lightning?

    When Thor travels back and ends up retrieving Mjolnir, are we just assuming Stormbreaker happens sooner in that timeline? This is moot if Cap returned it with the Aether and I just don’t remember.


    Good morning, tootses! [COFFEE EMOTICON]


    Another view of cherry blooms [HEART EMOTICON]
    Overnight low was 38, still a little early for delicate flowers here. [GRINNING EMOTICON]




    Good morning CoSo


    Morning all! [COFFEE EMOTICON]

    Greetings and Good Morning CoSo



    I’m usually lurking there, and posting about tabletop roleplaying game sessions I participate on.

    Disclaimer: I’m a contributor for Counter.Social, even if I spend little time there. Also, I’ve kept my twitter account dormant, just to avoid the handle being taken by someone else (it happened to a friend)

  40. Son of Valhalla says:

    I know I’m late to the thread here, and I apologize profusely for being late, but this is precisely the reason why I don’t use social media in general anymore other than to scroll through the zombie-like F yous and petty s***flinging brought to you by dumb people of humanity.

    It’s a constant struggle, but I try to avoid it now. If I use social media at all, I usually stay on the fun/simplistic side of things like memes and pictures.

    I’d much rather move my discussions and actual commenting to other places online more conducive to what I want to write/talk about.

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="">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.