Tag Archives: technology

Is Automattic Going To Save Tumblr’s Life?

Earlier this year, when it was announced that WordPress creator Automattic was to buy Tumblr, some optimism returned to the realm of creative blogging. Despite there being more free options for bloggers than ever before, most of them are woeful, and at the top of the tree, the spirit of blogging has been dying a painful death.

WordPress.com has shifted its commercial focus towards business websites, populating the platform with disengaged husks and decimating what was once a passionate writers’ community. Tumblr has suffered all kinds of problems in the hands of Verizon, and seen a catastrophic drop in usage as a result. Medium.com, proclaimed by some as the new king of serious blogging platforms, has been blighted with an elitist mentality, where a heavy curation bias sees ‘preferred authors’, with ‘preferred styles’, seizing the bulk of the visibility. And Blogger (.blogspot) has no real native community features at all. If you can code HTML and CSS, and you have a separate social media presence that can drive traffic, Blogger is unbeatable. But most people can’t, and don’t. Continue reading Is Automattic Going To Save Tumblr’s Life?

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?

‘New’ Twitter for Desktop: Pros, Cons, Solutions & Why Twitter Is Forcing It Upon Us

Twitter original desktop Dark Mode
Above: Wave a tearful goodbye to the old, server-based Twitter desktop site.

It’s been available on desktop for many moons in the form of Twitter Lite, but now, the so-called ‘new’ Twitter interface is rapidly being forced upon desktop users as the only fully-featured environment. It’s not just a visual redesign. It’s a completely different way of delivering content. And whether you like the ‘new’ Twitter or not, the chances of the old desktop site surviving in any form whatsoever are basically nil.

Why? Well, it wasn’t really that Twitter wanted a new desktop site. It was that they wanted rid of the old one… Continue reading ‘New’ Twitter for Desktop: Pros, Cons, Solutions & Why Twitter Is Forcing It Upon Us

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

Could Twitter Reward-Share on “Quote Tweets”?

The “Quote Tweet”, or “RT with comment” function, is undeniably a useful facility on Twitter. Like many of Twitter’s functions, it became a trend in user behaviour first, and was then officially integrated into the platform’s toolkit. But many people have come to see the “quote tweet” as a monster. Why is that? And if it is a monster, might Twitter tame it with a system of reward-sharing?

HISTORY OF THE FUNCTION

Before 2013, the notion of a “quote tweet” was simply a user copying text from an original tweet, pasting it into their own tweet in quotes, and then adding their comment in the remaining space. Given that tweets were limited to 140 characters back then, the scope for combining both the original tweet and the comment in that hard one-forty was restrictive in the extreme. Continue reading Could Twitter Reward-Share on “Quote Tweets”?

Twitter Detective MasterHack: How To Retrospectively Find A User ID Number

I wrote in my Old Usernames article about the importance of Twitter’s User ID in keeping tabs on slippery people’s behaviour. The User ID is a unique account identifier which remains the same however many times the user changes his or her @username. If you know the User ID, you will always be able to find a given Twitter profile (or at least find what’s happened to it) via its numerical URL.

But what happens if you discover that, say, a group of account @usernames have been switched, and you need to actually prove that the switch has taken place? This can happen with account networks when they try to cloak their origins. And it became important recently when the lead profile in a network of raving political activist accounts rebranded as the main promo feed for an alternative social media platform claiming to be politically impartial. I know, you couldn’t make it up, could you?

Well, there is fiendishly clever way to find out who’s been switching usernames, and PROVE it. Anyone can do it, and you can read the full tutorial in: How To Retrospectively Find a Twitter ID Number.

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?