It’s time for me to put a phase of my online life to rest forever.
Starting with Facebook, Instagram, Discord, and now with the last online space I have left. It is time for me to delete Twitter.
I started Twitter in 2016, but I was never using it for anything related to my personal life. To be honest, I don’t remember using it for anything but shitposts or getting the news easier. I have been logging on less and less the past few years and before making the post and wiping my account, I had not logged on for almost 3 months.
In online spaces I browse, Twitter gets reviewed very negatively, a lot of it seems to be about the type of people who use it than about the site itself. I will admit, I do have a lot of issues with the Twitter service more than anything. You can easily avoid people online and for a lot of the time I was on Twitter, I did. More than anything, I removed Twitter because of my stance on social media and free software.
The problems of Twitter, by Twitter
Twitter’s web UI got changed in 20191, and I honestly hate the change years later. There have been some changes to it that merge a bit of the new and the old together since, but it still has the F A T buttons and three split section design which has a ton of empty site space. I don’t like this stuff at all, and I’d usually want to use a frontend or different app to tweet and browse on.
The Twitter platform like most proprietary and mainstream social media have some tracking functions for advertisers. I will give the benefit of the doubt and say it is not as intrusive as Facebook or a Google platform. When I disabled personalised advertising, it did not seem to show me anything related to my searching habits, and my news section was just a bunch of random events. I cannot confirm if there is still datamining in the background though.
I can praise the security of Twitter, being one of very few services that supported USB security keys from years ago. But, they also have a really embarrassing track record with their employees getting coerced to distribute their admin tools to hackers2 and their employees going rogue, suspending the account of Donald Trump3 - although I do found this to be pretty funny.
‘Shadow bans’ and ‘censorship’
I should stress that a lot of discourse about this subject is shrouded in a mist of conspiracy and accusation. The whole discussion of shadow bans have also been used by officials like US representatives, and the former President to promote their own agenda about social media (i.e. the censoring conservatives/censoring leftists theories) - I am not an American and therefore I won’t be mentioning these subjects here, only technical information that interests me.
A lot of people refer to a ‘shadow ban’ as a type of enforcement that restricts a user, but the user enforced is not aware or alerted of the restrictions they have. It does not have to be a ban to be a shadow ban. Some accounts on Twitter have random restrictions like:
- their account not showing up in search autocompletes,
- their account not showing up in search results,
- their replies not showing up, being hidden in a ‘more replies’ menu, or in an ‘offensive content’ menu (worse), and
- their tweet being hidden when you view a reply on their tweet, only showing the reply itself and not the tweet it’s responding to.
Examples of all of these can be found on https://whosban.eu.org/faq. The people running this site run their own academic research about the subject, here is one of their papers: Setting The Record Straighter on Shadow Banning.
There is no factual reason why these restrictions happen - only speculation, so I am not going to mention any hypotheses. However, these happenings may be an alarm to social media users who want to have a larger audience on the Twitter platform.
Is it Censorship?
Probably not? Considering how some examples can be on seemingly random tweets, replies and accounts, I believe it would be inappropriate to call it censorship. Without confirmation or audits proving that these type of things happen with discrimination towards a group, I will not call it censorship yet.
Problems of Twitter, not from Twitter
A couple of people find the users on Twitter agitating, like the ‘stan’ subculture. Cultures and subgroups relating to fandoms have existed long before Twitter and honestly the type of incidents these communities produce are web-wide and not just a Twitter thing. Personally, I think this type of stuff can be respectable as long as the people running their accounts treat their community and their outsiders with respect. Know your boundaries. Some of these accounts are also ran by minors and personally I am not for minors using social media like this - especially if the person is like 13-14. Personally, I never had this be a problem with my browsing experience.
Brands and corporations LOVE twitter, and is home to incredible marketing4 such as:
‘Women belong in the kitchen.’
– Burger King UK5
Marketing should not be disguised as conversation and businesses should stay away from people’s discussion and stay to just advertising their products. Sunny D using a fake depression phase on their twitter account with their ‘I cant do this anymore’ post is one of them. Corporations are not people, this stuff is annoying, and I feel it’s kind of insensitive and mocking of internet culture by pretending to post like a type of person.
A little extra
Not everyone on Twitter tells the truth and if you follow someone who may be providing news, opinions, or discussion, think crticially. Look at the arguments on the other side and research the subject yourself. For instance, follow a twitter socialist, but research socialism yourself. Don’t follow an idea just because someone tells you something that sounds cool.
I will not be using social media much anymore, in part that I want to move away from the big internet. I can still be contacted, but big public rooms like social media sites aren’t for me. If you want to find a replacement or an alternative, try Mastodon or something. For the news, I use an RSS feed now, its pretty neat! I’ll write about it some day.
this is sarcasm ↩︎