roytang.net Posts Photos Archives About

I almost flat out quit Twitter last week when they surprised everyone with a policy forbidding linking to other social media platforms. They rolled it back before I could do anything, but that was just ridiculous. The whole web is built on linking to other websites, I have no interest in being stuck in a walled garden.

At some point I said I'd stick around Twitter until the end, but since Elon took over I've had a couple of other "red lines" in mind that would probably make me quit Twitter:

  • if they kill Tweetdeck. Now that the mobile app seems to prefer loading the same ad at the top of your feed every time and is subject to Elon's insane and useless UI changes every two days, Tweetdeck remains the only non-annoying way to browse Twitter. I'm convinced that the only reason Tweetdeck still exists is that Elon isn't even aware it exists, but it's not a situation that can last much longer. With all the changes Elon is planning, it's only a matter of time before Tweetdeck stops working at all due to incompatibiltiy with the backend maybe.
  • if they remove or restrict the API. This seems a bit less likely since Elon is already aware of the API's existence, but it's still possible that some of the planned changes he wants to make breaks the API completely. All integrations with this website to Twitter are API-driven, so if I lose access to it, that's a strong incentive to just stop using Twitter altogether.

One could argue that Elon supporting right-wing extremists and fascists and going after liberals and his Twitter files misinfo campaign are valid reasons to quit Twitter already to not support his views, and that might be correct. But I'm not an American and for now these seem largely American political/culture war concerns and I can personally tolerate them a bit longer. They are still concerning, and I'm pretty sure I've already seen a lot fewer posts from many of my American follows in the last few weeks or so as a result, so it's probably affecting my experience either way.

I've been on Twitter since 2008, and it's been a pretty good experience. Probably 2010-2014 or so were the best years. A lot of people refer to it as a hellsite, but I have the privilege of not being a target of harassment or anything like that and have enjoyed a lot of good content over the years. And I remain a small account, I think the Twitter experience tends to get a lot poorer as your follower count grows.

Early on, I was a bit annoyed that it was so hard to get more followers, but as time went on I cared less and less. I never went above 350 followers I think. At some point I realized I could probably gain more followers by posting a certain way or about certain topics, but I found that I didn't care to change the way I presented myself online just to go viral or for clout or influence or whatever. I guess it's not specific to Twitter, but if you're comfortable with who you are and don't need the validation of other people, social media is a much better place for you in terms of mental health.

(I do understand that other people rely on social media clout/influence for their living or for marketing purposes, etc. But I can't live like that. Even if I had something to sell I'd probably still post the same things I post and then my sales will be horrible. This is why I'm not a salesman.)

People complain about the experience or the algorithm or whatever but don't realize they can curate their experience on Twitter (or most platforms really). Block and mute liberally, select your follows well, use the chronological timeline, use lists, use Tweetdeck for a better Twitter experience. (For now anyway.)

The reason Twitter got a reputation for being a "public square" is the sheer power of trending topics to bring to light issues that would have been more difficult to surface through traditional media channels. I used to be annoyed that local TV news programs would include banal "trending topics" in some news segments, but later on I realized that in recent years the only reason we've had so much visibility into world issues is because of trending topics on platforms like Twitter.

And it helps call the powerful to account. When a big rich guy or a big company does something stupid, the last thing they want is for it to trend on Twitter because that kind of thing can lead to lost businesses or whatnot. It also becomes easier for marginalized groups to rally around a cause and gather support (and also makes it easier to target them...)

This is why my favorite description of what happened to Twitter remains this tweet from @RottenInDenmark:

I think we'll look back on the last decade as a time when social media gave previously marginalized groups the ability to speak directly to elites and, as a result, elites lost their minds.

IDK what's going to happen to Twitter, maybe Elon really will drive it into the ground in record time or maybe he comes to his senses and sells it off to a benevolent buyer or whatever. But no matter what, I think there's no going back to where it was before; too many things have changed and too many people have gone off and tried other platforms or otherwise decided not to come back. What emerges from Elon's Twitter may very well be something completely different. I also have no interest in the "everything app" he is imagining.

I'm not quitting Twitter just yet, but I will probably ramp down usage at some point. No matter what, my website will always tell you how you can contact me.

My biggest worry about Twitter is that EM randomly kills a server somewhere and we lose the archive of old tweets.

You might say "Who cares, it's all shitposts anyway", but that's not true. I've read a lot of good, insightful threads and stories on TW through the years and it would be a shame to lose them all to link rot.

AFAIK the IA doesn't archive most of TW. Maybe services like threadreaderbot have some good threads archived, but who knows what their retention policy is.

Mon, Dec. 26, 2022, 1:58 p.m. / / blog / #tech-life / Syndicated: mastodon twitter 1 others / 1073 words

Last modified at: Dec. 31, 2022, 3:30 p.m. Source file

Referenced by