I wasn’t going to write this up because, unless you live in cave (one might imagine Twitter CEO Jack does), then you’ve read countless articles on the latest Twitter upheaval. However, having read through a plethora of said articles, I am left believing there is a larger point being missed.
Twitters latest self-inflicted wound came yesterday as Buzzfeed announced that the service intended to roll out a new kind of timeline that would display tweets based on what their algorithm felt was important rather than in reverse chronological order as they appear now. The services users immediately took to the platform to label this the end of Twitter; the #RipTwitter tag was quickly spawned and stayed as a top trend for 24 hours. On Friday Twitters stock continued to tank closing 50% down from the December high and showing no signs of having reached its rock bottom.
Lost in all this, in my opinion, is that Twitters attempt to introduce an algorithm, while certainly not preferable for most users, isn’t the real problem. To get to the crux of the issue Twitter needs to acknowledge this uproar was caused more by a lack of trust than it was their introduction of a new kind of timeline. The plain and uncomfortable truth is that many, perhaps most, Twitter users don’t trust the service to wield this new algorithm fairly. What was once a rabid fan base that was passionate about the service is now a bitter and fleeing user base convinced their love was unrequited. A company that has lost the trust of its users or consumers is in dire trouble indeed. Perhaps Billy Joel best sums up the feelings of Twitters users today:
Some love is just a lie of the heart
The cold remains of what began with a passionate start
But that can’t happen to us
Because it’s always been a matter of trust
What began last month as a major uprising by conservative Twitter users, when the service inexplicably removed the verification from the account of power-user Milo Yiannopoulos, has turned into a complete erosion of the trust users once had that Twitter was providing a platform for free and uncensored speech. The service is notoriously consulting with leftist agitators and radical feminists while now engaged in a complete and self-destructive war with its users on the political right. Pictured below is famed radical feminist Anita Sarkeesian with the Twitter employee rumored to be responsible, at least in part, for removing the verification badge from Yiannopoulos:
Weeks ago on the BaconBits Show Professor Nick, Daddy Warpig and I theorized that picking a fight with your conservative user base was the first step to effectively killing the service. The goal for Twitter now seems to be providing a safe space for Sarkeesian and her sycophants free of opposing views or thoughts they find uncomfortable. Under the guise of fighting abuse Twitter has embraced the radical left and is actively punishing users who dare to hold opposing political views or who do not bow down to political correctness. In other words when Anita Sarkeesian holds out her ring you better kiss it or that account you like so much may just be locked without cause or explanation. While the end game for the SJWs in charge of Twitter remains fuzzy it’s reasonable to assume the company would like nothing more than to purge Twitter of anyone who doesn’t participate in outrage culture; this concept would leave behind nothing but a bankrupt leftist hugbox and most of them would flee soon enough because, as we know, they seek out disagreement of thought in order to label it abuse and rake in victim bucks. If all those who opposed them left the service, they would have to look at alternative platforms to be offended by. So, Jack, be careful what you wish for, as they say.
While the service has not confirmed the existence of an enforcement method called the “shadow ban” many users take it as a foregone conclusion that it exists and there is ample evidence that it does. A shadow ban will prevent your handle from appearing in searches and will prevent other users from seeing what you’ve posted on a hashtag.
— Prof. Nick Flor ƒ (@ProfessorF) February 4, 2016
In addition, conservative users and users who are simply opposed to the outrage culture straining to take over Twitter have reported that hashtags they use to communicate no longer autocomplete.
All of this adds up to one thing and it is the major reason we don’t want algorithms ordering our timelines: Twitter users simply no longer trust the company. I believe, as do many, that these algorithms will be weighted in favor of the Sarkeesians and other politically correct operatives and will filter out tags and tweets that SJWs find problematic. Twitter is a leftist company, that much is no longer up for debate, but the service must reconcile their desire to silence the right with their need to turn a profit and retain a user base. So far, they have failed miserably. It remains to be seen if they will slide as far as MSNBC, Air America or other platforms that have made it known conservatives aren’t welcome only to discover the money from the right spends as well as money from the left and there is often more of it.
If I was Jack I would watch the market open Monday in a cold sweat and when the slide continues, as it surely will, convene a meeting free of pro-censorship leftists and brainstorm on ways to win back our trust. Because in the end, if Twitters users truly believed the platform was a free speech zone nobody would be in an uproar over your algorithm.
— Prof. Nick Flor ƒ (@ProfessorF) February 7, 2016