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posted by martyb on Tuesday May 23 2017, @12:22PM   Printer-friendly
from the closing-the-barn-door dept.

If anyone knows how important Twitter is to Donald Trump, it's the president.

“Without the tweets, I wouldn't be here,” he told the Financial Times last month.

To which Twitter's co-founder says: Sorry about that, world.

Evan Williams, who still sits on the company's board of directors, recently told The New York Times that he wants to repair the damage he thinks Twitter and the broader Internet have wrought on society in the form of trolls, cyberbullies, live-streamed violence, fake news and — yes — Trump.

“I thought once everybody could speak freely and exchange information and ideas, the world is automatically going to be a better place,” Williams told the Times. “I was wrong about that.”

“If it’s true that he wouldn’t be president if it weren’t for Twitter, then yeah, I’m sorry,” he said.

Is Twitter responsible?


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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Refugee from beyond on Tuesday May 23 2017, @12:24PM (26 children)

    by Refugee from beyond (2699) on Tuesday May 23 2017, @12:24PM (#514162)

    Sorry for what exactly? Not enough censorship?

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 23 2017, @12:43PM (6 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 23 2017, @12:43PM (#514173)

    Maybe it's time to stop giving huge amounts of VC funding to kids. Kids don't have any sense of proportion...unless they've already been through the total perspective vortex. And even then, some of them have egos like Zaphod that don't learn anything from seeing yourself in perspective against the whole universe.

    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday May 23 2017, @12:54PM (1 child)

      by c0lo (156) on Tuesday May 23 2017, @12:54PM (#514182) Journal

      Maybe it's time to stop giving huge amounts of VC funding to kids. Kids don't have any sense of proportion...

      There's a reason Tweeter didn't appear in Europe - they invented a tool better suited to the purpose of terse communication, namely IRC [wikipedia.org]

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
      • (Score: 3, Informative) by FatPhil on Wednesday May 24 2017, @12:46PM

        by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Wednesday May 24 2017, @12:46PM (#514779) Homepage
        When people ask me how I keep up to date with what my friends are doing, I always answer "the same way I have been since 1993", referring of course to IRC. Right now, I'm on a server that hosts a channel full of ex workmates, another server that hosts several channels full of beer-drinking buddies in the countries I visit most often, and of course on the soylent IRC server. Occasionally I hang around on a much wider range of technical channels (whenever I receive offers of help on #devuan after a question, I hang around until I can offer as much help to someone else, for example).

        Oh, noes, my xterm (running under tmux over ssh on my home server) is unable to display a black-face pile of poo, what a disaster! (I presume such clipart is specifiable, as the colour modifiers are now standardised, and as pile of poo has a face, he should have a specifiable face colour. (Don't give me "but it's not a person" - neither is the vampire clipart, and you can specify Blackula if you so desire. https://emojipedia.org/vampire-dark-skin-tone/ )

        It was my pleasure many years later to work with Jarkko Oikarinen not once, but twice (once he was a customer I was supporting on-site, and once as a near-team-mate when I worked for that client). He was always very modest about what he'd created, it was just a thing that he did in the past, and had nearly forgotten about it. To me, it's a important part of my interactions with most other human beings I interact with.
        --
        Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 23 2017, @01:20PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 23 2017, @01:20PM (#514199)

      Nerd alert:

      I guess you didn't make it far enough in to the books... turns out Zaphod went into the total perspective vortex machine while he was stuck inside a simulation created specifically to trap him. So in the false simulation universe was created for him, thus he was the most important thing. However, if it was reality he would've been just as fucked as the rest of us. He massive ego basically guarantees it would have killed him, or possibly brought him to enlightenment, hard to say with the extremes of any curve.

      • (Score: 0, Disagree) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 23 2017, @01:35PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 23 2017, @01:35PM (#514220)

        Interesting interpretation. Not sure how you can extrapolate to "...if it was reality..." from DNA's text, given that the whole series is fiction?

        • (Score: 3, Informative) by tangomargarine on Tuesday May 23 2017, @02:44PM

          by tangomargarine (667) on Tuesday May 23 2017, @02:44PM (#514277)

          Inside the continuity of the books, he was in an artificial universe specifically created for the purpose of, when he went into the Vortex it wouldn't kill him because he *was* the most important person in *that* universe.

          --
          "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
    • (Score: 2) by kazzie on Tuesday May 23 2017, @04:52PM

      by kazzie (5309) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday May 23 2017, @04:52PM (#514371)

      Hey, is that a piece of fairy cake?

  • (Score: 2) by butthurt on Tuesday May 23 2017, @12:54PM (10 children)

    by butthurt (6141) on Tuesday May 23 2017, @12:54PM (#514184) Journal

    Twitter shadowbans Trump; Trump is elected. Obvious cause and effect.

    /article.pl?sid=16/04/26/227224 [soylentnews.org]

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by fyngyrz on Tuesday May 23 2017, @02:41PM (9 children)

      by fyngyrz (6567) on Tuesday May 23 2017, @02:41PM (#514274) Journal

      I think there's something very specific Twitter can do to make political tweeting less problematic. *

      Twitter's designed as a "safe space"; there's no thumbs-down. That way, there's no negative feedback on a tweet; you have to look at the replies for that, and obviously, most politicians don't.

      So my suggestion is: For accounts that are political, Twitter does away with the "heart", and goes to a thumbs-up AND a thumbs-down, with independent counts. This way, both the politician and those who view the tweet would have an actual sense of how well the tweet was received.

      Guidance from the public, as it were.

      Right now, all Trump sees is many thousands of upvotes on his very worst tweets. Think about that.

      * Yes, I have sent this suggestion to Twitter.

      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by bucket58 on Tuesday May 23 2017, @03:08PM

        by bucket58 (1305) on Tuesday May 23 2017, @03:08PM (#514291)

        > For accounts that are political, Twitter does away with the "heart", and goes to a thumbs-up AND a thumbs-down, with independent counts. This way, both the politician and those who view the tweet would have an actual sense of how well the tweet was received.

        This just makes it an echo chamber. See the various politics based subreddits.

      • (Score: 2) by donkeyhotay on Tuesday May 23 2017, @03:50PM (2 children)

        by donkeyhotay (2540) on Tuesday May 23 2017, @03:50PM (#514323)

        I like that idea. I would even be in favor of extending it to ALL posts, not just political ones -- mainly because it can be difficult to differentiate between what is political and what is not.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 23 2017, @06:39PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 23 2017, @06:39PM (#514449)

          Tweet: "Our newest pay-day load product, Payrolla(R), makes your dreams affordable! Try it now!"

          If shit like that gets downvotes, Twitter becomes less desirable for business. Even less-offensive products won't be worth the risk.

          It's like how Facebook lacks a "Hate" button.

          • (Score: 2) by Sulla on Tuesday May 23 2017, @07:53PM

            by Sulla (5173) on Tuesday May 23 2017, @07:53PM (#514492) Journal

            I have recently been working on an accounting software implementation, I would definitely give a thumbs up to a product that made my payday data load process easier.

            --
            Ceterum censeo Sinae esse delendam
      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 23 2017, @06:10PM (4 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 23 2017, @06:10PM (#514432)

        I think you're completely missing the point.

        The way people like Trump and other popular figures use Twitter is not to try to get feedback or focus test ideas, but by using it as a free public publishing outlet. 'Everybody' knows people who actively respond, vote, etc on Twitter are not even remotely representative of reality. As a result the zeitgeist of the Twitterdom is not particularly relevant. I'd be fully in support of removing like/retweet counts from all posts though. Along with follower counts. It'd be nice if communication was actually about communication and not e-peen measuring contests.

        • (Score: 2) by fyngyrz on Tuesday May 23 2017, @09:51PM (3 children)

          by fyngyrz (6567) on Tuesday May 23 2017, @09:51PM (#514538) Journal

          Yes, I know he uses it as a publishing outlet. So here's the comparison:

          You might see [some tweet by a pol] 1,000 + votes

          Or you might see [same tweet by a pol] 1,000 + votes, 99,000 - votes.

          Either way, you come along, and you read the tweet. You look at the votes. One tells you a thousand people liked it and that's all it tells you. It's a positive impression and nothing else. The other tells you 99% of the people who read it didn't like it. That's not a positive impression.

          So now, with the dual indicators, you have some sense of how the published info was taken by the readers in general. With the 1,000+ only post, you have no such sense. You just think "1,000 people liked this."

          There's the primary value.

          And one more thing: Trump or whoever uses this as a publishing platform, if the aggregate response visible to anyone who looks at it is negative, they will, I assure you, use it differently than they do when all tweets are treated as monophonic measures of sweetness and light. But regardless, it's the readers that are important here, because politicians affect them, and they deserve to have some sense of WTF is going on rather than nothing but a whitewashed + count.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 24 2017, @03:40AM (2 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 24 2017, @03:40AM (#514656)

            What you're saying is contradicted by reality. There has been research [arxiv.org] indicating that downvoting sort of mechanisms have a paradoxically negative effect. It actually encourages further negative behavior and reciprocation. People do change their behavior - they start acting even more extreme and with even greater blase disregard for feedback.

            In any case Trump does not think his messages are well received by Twitter users. He's certainly looked at his comments and it's invariably nothing but people/bots who following him 24/7 just to get a chance to spam his next message with lots of inane memes and trolling. Again another major point here is that though many relevant figures use Twitter as a publishing platform, the actual users of Twitter are in no way representative of the real world. This is something Trump is certainly aware of as well. His messages (and those of people like e.g. Musk) get out to vastly more people than Twitter users, which is the reason for their usage of the platform. The views of Twitter users themselves are not relevant and I see little benefit in trying to magnify them, be they positive or negative. Again, I'd think a mutually acceptable compromise would be to push for removal of all negative and positive feedback. Let messages stand by themselves and let people actually communicate instead of seeing who can game a number the most.

            • (Score: 2) by fyngyrz on Wednesday May 24 2017, @04:58AM (1 child)

              by fyngyrz (6567) on Wednesday May 24 2017, @04:58AM (#514677) Journal

              People do change their behavior - they start acting even more extreme and with even greater blase disregard for feedback.

              That's precisely what is needed: the bad apples to expose themselves further, and for people to see it happen.

              Rather than a +1,000 all-is-roses echo chamber.

              And for those pols who are actually trying to do the right thing.... that'll work too.

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 24 2017, @05:52PM

                by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 24 2017, @05:52PM (#514975)

                Just because something is downvoted hardly means it or the person speaking is a "bad apple." Most social media sites trend towards becoming hiveminds and aggressively downvote anything that goes against their own biases, aggressively upvote anything that confirms them. The only behavior stronger than this is voting not for what is said, but who said it. Trump, for instance, could say the most benevolent, kind-hearted, optimistic message and would be met by thousands of downvotes. The same would be true of e.g. Obama, with biases reversed. Consequently all the voting system turns into is an informal poll of the biases of a site, and given Twitter's extreme detachment from reality I'm again not seeing any value no matter how you try to spin this. Perhaps it would be a nice idea on a site representative of the world, but we're so quick to try to chase away voices that we feel oppose us that everybody is self segregating themselves - no such site with a representative diversity of views really exists.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by ikanreed on Tuesday May 23 2017, @02:22PM (1 child)

    by ikanreed (3164) on Tuesday May 23 2017, @02:22PM (#514257) Journal

    Uh, trivializing and contributing to the sound-byte culture, mostly.

    You know, if I had to guess from his other projects, like medium.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 23 2017, @10:43PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 23 2017, @10:43PM (#514555)

      How does medium contribute to sound byte culture? There's some long reads on there.

  • (Score: 2) by LoRdTAW on Tuesday May 23 2017, @02:28PM (4 children)

    by LoRdTAW (3755) on Tuesday May 23 2017, @02:28PM (#514260) Journal

    My thoughts exactly. This is akin to gun manufactures apologizing for gun violence.

    • (Score: 3, Touché) by Azuma Hazuki on Tuesday May 23 2017, @04:12PM (3 children)

      by Azuma Hazuki (5086) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday May 23 2017, @04:12PM (#514343) Journal

      Butbutbutbut tweets don't destroy nations, tweeters do! :v

      --
      I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 23 2017, @04:32PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 23 2017, @04:32PM (#514354)

        Well, it's true. Twitter didn't force anybody to vote one way or another last November. Twitter itself also isn't a satisfactory scapegoat in my mind for the state of our culture such that a service like Twitter can sway elections.

        But I think I'm comfortable staying silent in the event of Twitter-control measures even if that runs counter to the First Amendment. Who knows, maybe the right to keep and bear tweets can be reinterpreted as a collective right.

        • (Score: 2) by quacking duck on Tuesday May 23 2017, @05:17PM (1 child)

          by quacking duck (1395) on Tuesday May 23 2017, @05:17PM (#514386)

          But I think I'm comfortable staying silent in the event of Twitter-control measures even if that runs counter to the First Amendment

          Twitter is a private entity, and they aren't a regulated utility, so they aren't restricted by the first amendment.

          • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 23 2017, @08:23PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 23 2017, @08:23PM (#514508)

            Same AC here. Of course Twitter can control Twitter all it pleases. I clicked up the comment tree, and I see where I might have created confusion. Gun manufacturers are free to apologize all they want for gun violence, just like Twitter is apologizing here for... ¿tweet violence?.

            These Twitter-control measures would be exactly like gun control measures, enacted by the government, which is why I picked that wording. They would have to dance around the First Amendment the exact same way gun control measures have to dance around the Second Amendment (which in my personal view is an individual right but not to digress).

            Not only that, but if we're talking about a law to regulate Twitter specifically, that sounds a lot like a bill of attainder, which would be another no-no. So it'd have to be some kind of regulation directed at short message services With a Computer™ On the Internet™ (so as not to be confused with regular cellular Short Message Service).

            And of course the final disclaimer, where I enter dangerous territory by, er... not speaking up when they come for the twits. If I understand how the Illuminati or whoever do this thing, it'll be Trump in power until 2024 and then we'll get some D team person in power until 2032 who would presumably start the initiative for Twit Control Legislation. Afterwards, in 2040, if there hasn't been a violent and even-more-bloody-than-the-first second civil war, it'll be an R team person in power who will then be able to craft Twit Control Legislation of their own.

            But I'll be retiring then so I only have an extremely limited amount of fucks to give.

  • (Score: 1) by linkdude64 on Tuesday May 23 2017, @06:47PM

    by linkdude64 (5482) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday May 23 2017, @06:47PM (#514456)

    He's sorry like White People are sorry for slavery - willing to destroy their freedoms, tax their business to the brink of outsourcing, and allow riots and other childish shows of force go regarded as "Peaceful" movements over it.