Wow has Twitter stepped out of the role of being a content curator into that of a censorship organization. I have had an account with Twitter since 2010ish. I pretty much quit using it several years back. It became too much of a distraction for me personally. Today, I have decided to become an outright advocate against it. I will attempt to layout as to why here in this post. I really do not care if anyone reads this or not. Maybe this will end up being just a place for me to work out my thoughts about Twitter. I just want to address some aspects of Twitter that I think are tearing this country apart.
What is “twitter”?
Surprisingly, there are still people out there that have not used or understand what Twitter is about. To wrap your head around Twitter you really need to start with trying to understand a concept called “micro-blogging”.
Blogging on the internet is simply the act of writing about a topic and posting it on a web page for others to read and respond to it. Like little “articles” or “editorials” about the topic in which the author has decided to address. These pages are usually search able on search engines. As people read them, there are often ways for these people to comment on what they agree or disagree about the article. This would create a dialog between the people reading the article and the author. Over these last few years, this ability to post comments has been removed from a lot of the news organization’s pages. Leaving the dialog more one sided by not getting the feedback from the readership.
Micro-blogging came from the fact that at one point cell phone’s messaging system, which was called SMS, only allowed the user to send messages that were 140 -160 characters long. Now known as “texting”, this “Short Messaging Service” worked well for cell phones and was a one-to-one type of messaging. One person sent it to another person and only that one person could read the message. Micro-blogging took the concept of “blogging” and restricted it to a short 140 character “micro” posts, that could be seen by everyone that wanted to read it. An author would encourage people to sign up to a list and when the author posted a Micro-blog post, everyone on the list would be sent the message. Similar to what we would today refer to as a “group chat” text message.
In 2006, Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter, took this concept of “micro-blogging” and created a platform in which allowed people to “follow” other people. Like signing up to be on an author’s mailing list. People could follow and unfollow those people that wrote things they wanted to hear about. Friends could keep tabs on what other friends were writing about. This was later called updating their “statuses”. It was a one-to-many type of texting platform.
Early on, the 140-character restriction was only because of the mobile carriers imposing the limit. Once the service became its own platform the limit became part of the brand of a short burst of info, a “tweet”. These tweets would scroll on your phone as they happened in real time. The more people you followed the faster the tweets would scroll. The newest tweet always at the top of the page.
They then introduced a way to respond to these tweets by “retweeting” them and adding a text message in the response. Thus, the dialog was created. If you were following someone, and their tweet caught the attention of others, you would also see who was “re-tweeting” the person’s messages. All these messages, scrolling down your phone, was eventually called a “feed”. It was what you personally subscribed to that made up the feed. If you wanted to follow only certain professionals, you would see what they were discussing. It was almost like being able to be in the room with those people you admired. While they were having discussions with the people around them. This easily let everyone know their opinions and support of the topic at hand.
Marketing people found it to be an amazing way to get the word out about products that they were promoting. A tweet about the product, by a person with lots of followers, could easily be re-tweeted by those same followers several times over.
Reporters would use Twitter to tweet about article they had just published. If the article got retweeted by someone with any influence, the article’s readership would grow exponentially!
Friends and family could keep track of what was on each other’s mind and easily let everyone know their thoughts.
The list goes on....
It really was an amazing concept!
Left just at that, it would still be that amazing concept.
But they could NOT just leave it alone.
As people followed more and more people, the “feed” would scroll to fast for people to be able to keep up. I think maybe this is when the concept of “throttling” came into play.
At some point the feed slowed down and you had to look further down the page to see things. It turns out, that they keep track of the tweets that catch your attention and that you re-tweet. The people and topics you follow are then basically rated as to what would get your attention the quickest. What would you most likely respond to? What would cause you to join the conversation?
As they gain these insights, they are now able to manipulate your feed to show you only those things in which you would most likely react to. Those things that do not get a reaction from you are pushed to the bottom of the feed. Today, you really must scroll down the page to find them. In their minds, I am sure they were trying to help you out by only showing you those topics that were most important to you. Ya, maybe they had good intentions, right? But, it has worked out to just tear people apart!
So think about this….
If a person only sees that in which he or she agrees, when faced with someone who disagrees, would they not think that person was lying? After all, they have had it reinforced so many times. In their mind, "wear is the evidence?" .... "I haven't heard that anywhere!"
If Twitter is skewing what you are seeing to only those things in which you have previously liked, you are subtly being pushed further into your convictions. All you are seeing is proof of what you believe. You are never exposed to those things that may make you question your convictions. A gamer is never exposed to the excitement of building a wood project. A business owner is never exposed to the thrill of a living as a RV nomad.
The heated topic of the political scene is how divided our country is. The Right blames the left. The left blames the right. When all along, the subtle pandering to both sides by our social media companies is what truly divides us! Twitter may be the worst of them all!! Then, when you think they cannot get any worse, their own biases show up as they literally silence one side of the argument by banning the side, they just happen to not agree with. Totally eliminating any chance of those with opposing viewpoints to be heard by ANYONE!