If things couldn’t get any worse in regards to the micro-blogging site, with the regular myopic social media outrage (recently, over one inside-joke, Stephen Fry deactivated his account…again), unpopular feature changes, and… overreaction to said feature changes… “Twitter is turning into Facebook!”
The user base is dropping… slightly. And some news websites are calling it: dead; flatline. But these kind of news sites have been saying ‘twitter is dying’ for years.
In the attempt to get the company moving ‘up’ again, in other words more attractive to advertisers in competition to other social media platforms (advertisers are still attracted to twitter anyway), they brought back Jack Dorsey, thinking if they acted like Apple Computer, Inc. (when they reinstated Steve Jobs), things would improve. Think Differently.
Even I got on the #RIPTwitter bandwagon over the new changes. That is, until I actually read about the changes twitter planned to make: an optional feature that uses the algorithm found in the While You Were Away division that appears when you log in after some time. “Show me the best tweets first” shuffles the traditionally chronological timeline to reflect user activity and interests. And from my experience it may actually be helpful… at first. The setting would probably work better as an on-page toggle.
I know each time WordPress.com (here) makes a periodic change, many people here are, in return, periodically ticked off, and for the right reasons. I’ve not felt the same with twitter; although it has never had a user ‘edit’ feature, overall I’d say they’ve improved their site. …I don’t care for Moments, though.
What about twitter letting outside groups, many of them with political leanings, determine what content is abusive or ‘acceptable’ on the site? I don’t know about you, but fleeting insults on twitter are laughable. But seriously, when it comes to free speech, there is no fine line between disagreement and abuse. It’s not easy for someone to go out of one’s way to harass another person.
Free speech in social media, at least on twitter, tends to follow in the footsteps of the First Amendment: to protect ALL speech, all actions in honesty or belief, provided the rights of others are respected. What free speech does not protect is the intent to harm— lies, persistent harassment, threats of death or rape (which are often empty, but still…). Where blocking a user isn’t enough, action may need to be taken, especially when laws are broken and home addresses are publicized. But self-contained jokes are not cause of harm. Humor by itself should always be protected. So when I hear of people who may fall into the area of without a sense of humor, or even so-called social justice groups that tend to trample on political or religious speech rights, getting into the official mix, it does concern me.
Update: it’s worse than I thought if user claims are correct: twitter may already be actively deleting tweets considered racist, homophobic, etc., including links to ‘offensive’ websites or posts— possibly even if the tweet is about the discussion of said racism, homophobia, etc., but I’m not sure… because even Facebook deleted an ‘offensive’ page. If we were all adults, everything would be part of the larger picture; if you began deleting everything deemed ‘offensive,’ it would eventually snowball into an Orwellian nightmare.
…Then there’s that new, growing gray area that has graced only the internet, as if a bad, adult joke. If you have any experience on twitter, you may have seen it for yourself: unsolicited advertising of body parts. No one got any ‘dick pics’ in newspapers. No one got any cam girls or grotesque uses of steroids in section A9… not in any prints I know of, anyway.
Luckily, I have no significant popularity in social media, so I’ve never been trolled or bullied, or hit with body parts (literally or figuratively), except for those “grotesque steroid abs”… But I have gotten a load of anxiety, particularly of the not-knowing-the-right-words-to-say sort. I know not to hate or hurt, so what do you do when a fellow tweep misinterprets your intent, and scares you to the point you break contact with him/her, at least momentarily, and in doing so they say you hurt them? People tell you to not take social media too seriously, but that does not mean your conscience takes a back seat.
For better or worse, I tend to attract more female interaction in social media than male, and to some that’s an indicator of being gay. So what do you do when someone makes an off-color joke that might actually be… flirtatious? Sometimes silence is the best approach to show you don’t appreciate what the other person said, but… thinking of telling ’em the joke doesn’t work because I’m straight… sigh. Playing it cool, staying quiet.
I’ve come to appreciate twitter for what it’s good at— real-time news and discussion. So it’s disappointing to see people who’ve normally gotten the point miss it, interact less, or even drop out. Maybe the site makes things look so easy and effortless that people gradually make less of an effort, lose themselves or stress themselves out in trying too hard. …I don’t know.
I do know I’m not quitting. …Let’s hope the indefinite break I’m taking is worth it.
What do you think, in your experience, about twitter and where it’s headed?