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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: 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.

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  • (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.