Tag Archives: people

What Are Social Media Algorithms and Are They Really So Bad?

Social media algorithms. The concept of them is so unpopular that some alternative social platforms actually trade on the fact that they (supposedly) don’t have them. But in this post I just might change the detractors’ minds. I’ll explore the reality of algorithms, explode some of the myths that surround them, and find out whether they really do us a favour or a disservice.

WHAT IS AN ALGORITHM OR ALGO?

In the context of social media, an algorithm – algo for short – is simply a sorting mechanism. A system of priority for the display of content or profiles.

The most basic social media algorithm is a reverse chronological display. That’s newest posts always at the top of the timeline, with no filtering – i.e. nothing removed. Despite the order being very simple and basic, this is still an algorithm. And by default, any social app you can find on an app store will filter out some sensitive matter. They won’t be accepted by the app stores if they don’t. So essentially, all social networks with timelines use some type of algorithm – even those who claim not to. You can read some more network-specific details in Finding The Best Alternative Social Media Platform.

Most social platforms, however, additionally manipulate their basic, reverse chronological timeline. They’ll filter out more than they’re required to filter out by the app stores – most often to avoid endless repetition and valueless spam. Then they’ll start to interfere with the chronological order, so that popular or more personally-relevant posts are placed at the top of the timeline, even when they’re not the most recent. Continue reading What Are Social Media Algorithms and Are They Really So Bad?

“Trust Me, I’m a Male Feminist!”: Twitter Feminism For Men

What’s the difference between a male feminist and a female feminist? It’s not a gag – there’s a simple and thought-provoking answer. The difference is that the male is in a position to actively address some of the issues he’s fanfaring about. For example, if he believes there’s an unfair gender pay gap of 22%, he can send 11% of his salary to women’s groups. If he believes men should not be invading female spaces, he can take his unsolicited commentary out of women’s Twitter mentions. Is he doing those things? If not, why not?… Continue reading “Trust Me, I’m a Male Feminist!”: Twitter Feminism For Men

If You’ve Had This Experience, You May Be Remembering A Time Near Your Birth

If you’ve ever heard anyone say they remember being born, the subsequent tale was probably a pretty conclusive demonstration that they definitely don’t. Any stories that conform to an adult understanding of the environment are inevitably going to be false.

But far-fetched internet threads that begin with “I think I remember being born”, then rapidly reach “…And there were two nurses talking to a doctor”, and end with “…And then the Lord Jesus Christ said…”, don’t mean the retention of exceptionally early memories is impossible.

I’m hard to convince when it comes to scientifically unproven concepts. I’m not religious, I don’t believe in life after death, and I reject astrology. But I do believe that long-term memory begins much earlier than most research will acknowledge, and as you’ve probably already guessed, that’s down to personal experience. Continue reading If You’ve Had This Experience, You May Be Remembering A Time Near Your Birth

How To View The Quote Reactions (RT With Comment) To a Given Tweet Or Twitter User

Twitter’s threading of the @replies to a tweet, means we can read all of the reaction in a handy infinite-scroll, right? Unfortunately not. As we saw in the Quote Tweet post, a large proportion of Twitter users have now substituted the Retweet With Comment function for the Reply function, and that means their reaction won’t be included in the thread. So unless we already follow them, we won’t see what they had to say.

Worse still, the kind of people who use RT With Comment vice the Reply function often provide some of the sharpest and most incisive reactions. We could be missing the best stuff. So how do we find all those quote reactions – the reactions that won’t appear in the thread? Continue reading How To View The Quote Reactions (RT With Comment) To a Given Tweet Or Twitter User

Will Twitter Ban “Cash Giveaway” Accounts?

If you haven’t yet seen one, where have you been? On Twitter, supposed “cash giveaways” have become a means for the self-styled “benefactor” to build a vast following, elicit unnaturally high levels of compliance from the public, and make a lot of money. But if there’s no separate terms and conditions page, the cash prize almost certainly doesn’t exist. And even if it does, how would you know? This is a world where the winners are almost never mentioned, let alone identified. It’s just tweet after tweet of…

“RT, Like and Comment to win £5,000 in cash. Must be following me, and must tell me what a fantastic guy I am in the comment, blah, blah.”

That’s the kind of character we’re talking about. Not just spectacularly manipulative, but also childishly egotistical. And there’s no “Congratulations to the winner”. Aside from their occasional, staged convincer ruses, these dudes can’t even be bothered to pretend someone actually won. New day, new giveaway, and it never ends.

This post was written in May 2019, before the rise of the #TwitterPhilanthropy tag. I’ve done a full update taking into account more recent events in the #TwitterPhilanthropy Cash Messiah post, but I’ve also left this post intact for historical reference… Continue reading Will Twitter Ban “Cash Giveaway” Accounts?

How To Avoid a Twitter Shadowban

One of the most fundamental changes in Twitter’s policy ever, was the introduction, at the beginning of March 2017, of proactive moderation. Previously, Twitter had responded to user reports of abuse, offensiveness and spam on an individual basis, but this had largely failed to tackle an endemic problem with low-quality profiles and annoying or distortive spam.

Because Twitter is so huge, the bulk of this new realm of moderation would have to be automated. Twitter thus set to work devising algorithms which could attempt to identify known traits of low-quality or offensive profiles, and then penalise those accounts. Some penalties would be notified to the offending user; others would not. The classic shadowban is not notified to the offending user.

From the start, circa 1st March 2017*, a large number of Twitter profiles were auto-moderated, and dropped out of the search timelines for varying periods of time. The surreptitious measures which rendered many accounts widely invisible, quickly became known as shadowbans.

[*Update 16/4/2019I’ve now been able to confirm that tweets were being taken out of search based on shadowban criteria before 1st March 2017, but the measures had their publicised launch on that date.]

EFFECTS OF A SHADOWBAN

There are different types and degrees of shadowban, but most typically, the user’s tweets will drop out of Twitter’s default search results. Depending on why the user is shadowbanned, the following consequences may also apply… Continue reading How To Avoid a Twitter Shadowban

Why It’s Time For Twitter To Scrap Like, Retweet & Follower Count Displays

Twitter Popularity Counts

At the beginning of 2015 I addressed the question of hiding the Follower count on Twitter. In the light of Twitter’s more recent consideration of scrapping the Like button, I’m revisiting the subject of public popularity counts, and asking whether it’s time for the platform to wipe them out entirely.

This article is not suggesting that Twitter gets rid of Like buttons, Retweet buttons, notifications relating to the use of those buttons, or summary data for the poster of the content. It’s suggesting that Twitter removes the public display of Like, Retweet, Reply and Follower/Friend counts. The numbers.

WHY ARE ENFORCED PUBLIC POPULARITY COUNTS BAD?

The logic behind forcibly displaying social media users’ popularity counts to the public, is that it strongly motivates platform growth. Crudely put, it shames people into importing fans/friends, or labouring to engage a native audience. In both scenarios, the social sites gain something for nothing. They either gain new users for zero advertising expenditure, or they gain human labour, which will collectively bring a level of value to the platform. Value on the back of which the platform can run ads. That’s the power of shame. Continue reading Why It’s Time For Twitter To Scrap Like, Retweet & Follower Count Displays