Contributor Post Created with Sketch. We’re Taking Twitter Too Seriously

 

Given the outsized role Twitter played in the last Presidential election; both the real one (Trump’s use of it to reach the American people immediately and without a filter was unprecedented) and the imagined (no, Russian bots didn’t manipulate the election), it’s unsurprising a New York Times story about fake followers has sent some shockwaves.

In short: Some prominent folks, from celebrities to journalists to athletes have purchased fake followers from a company that traffics in such things. You want to seem more well-known, well-respected? Having 100,000 more Twitter followers; more people who seem to follow your every whim, goes a long way in adding to that cache. One of the individuals identified by the Times as having bought followers was Richard Roeper, a film critic from Chicago. Yesterday afternoon, this news broke:

Why does the Chicago Sun-Times employ Roeper? Is it because he has a lot of Twitter followers or because he’s a good film critic? The Sun-Times decision is truly inexplicable if it’s the latter. While buying Twitter followers appears desperate and a little pathetic, it’s not on par with plagiarism or other major ethical lapses which require suspensions or firings from media entities.

How big of a deal is it that there are thousands of bots out there, anyway? While it’s important for Twitter to get a handle on the masses of them out there; this suggestion by Mark Cuban would take one of the biggest benefits of Twitter off the platform: the ability to be anonymous.

https://twitter.com/mcuban/status/957686987229618176

There are countless reasons why someone may want to use the service under an assumed name: from fear of state violence in repressive countries to clandestine conservatives tweeting their thoughts while working in liberal industries; everyone should have the right for their voices to be heard. That doesn’t mean we all have to listen to those thoughts; that’s the beauty of the mute and block buttons on the service.

Requiring individuals to use their real names wouldn’t just be a heavy lift for the service to verify; it would also send scores of anonymous accounts off. Even if those names were kept on the back end of the Twitter servers, given the James O’Keefe investigation into the ethics of those with access, it’s not a good idea. If the Office of Personnel Management — the HR wing of the U.S. government — can be hacked, so too can Twitter. And having real names attached to messages could literally endanger lives and livelihoods around the world.

Tags:

There are 15 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Bethany,

    The Washington Post just “adjusted” its 3″ tall front page headline because of a twitter storm. This is the darkest of comedy. A grandiose publication like the Post (only the Times is more grandiose) who have innumerable contributors with resumes that go on infinitely and that write 3000-5000 word essays/editorials/short stories, is now subject to the editorial approval of a semi-literate flash mob that expresses itself in ungrammatical insults limited to 280 (up from 140) characters. That’s characters, not words.

    Thus the crude & rude are now leading the smooth & arrogant by the nose. All the more reason never to open a twitter account.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #1
    • January 31, 2018, at 10:48 AM PST
    • Like
  2. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    My 560 followers are there because I’m incredibly witty, erudite and handsome. (Please do not burst my bubble as that’s all I got.)

    • #2
    • January 31, 2018, at 10:49 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  3. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    EJHill (View Comment):
    My 560 followers are there because I’m incredibly witty, erudite and handsome. (Please do not burst my bubble as that’s all I got.)

    EJ,

    Due to your incredible photoshop talent, your tweets are now being introduced into the MOMAOT (Museum of Modern Art of Twitter). Your 560 connoisseurs of artistic expression should hold onto their smartphones as they now hold tweets of immense value. Sotheby’s intends to auction a suite of your tweets…(pssssst…EJ…is this good enough, they don’t call me Mr. Puff for nothing)

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #3
    • January 31, 2018, at 11:02 AM PST
    • 1 like
  4. Weeping Member

    James Gawron (View Comment):
    Bethany,

    The Washington Post just “adjusted” its 3″ tall front page headline because of a twitter storm. This is the darkest of comedy. A grandiose publication like the Post (only the Times is more grandiose) who have innumerable contributors with resumes that go on infinitely and that write 3000-5000 word essays/editorials/short stories, is now subject to the editorial approval of a semi-literate flash mob that expresses itself in ungrammatical insults limited to 280 (up from 140) characters. That’s characters, not words.

    Thus the crude & rude are now leading the smooth & arrogant by the nose. All the more reason never to open a twitter account.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #4
    • January 31, 2018, at 11:03 AM PST
    • Like
  5. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The fascinating thing is not just the padding of one’s followers with fake Twitter accounts, it’s that some people have used fake Twitter accounts to deliver death threats to themselves, and use those as proof of cyber-bullying. Twitter is a pile of manure that if you want, you can dig through until you find the pony.

    • #5
    • January 31, 2018, at 11:14 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  6. Hoyacon Member

    I thought, from the title, that this was going to be about the total preoccupation by some, including journalists, with Twitter and the unfortunate fact that a lot of people seem to think that most of what appears there actually matters (Twitter Erupts!!).

    But as far as former Roger Ebert co-star Roeper goes, and the issue of fake followers, do we know whether some compensation packages–or at least the ability to bargain for compensation–are affected by the number of followers? I don’t know, but it seems like a possibility.

    At least in the sports world, a lot of news is now broken on Twitter because it lends itself to sports activities (Joe Blow Traded; Billy Baseball Fired). This means that followers to a twitter account really count because a lot of people no longer read these writers in the original. Their principal value is the reflected glory their Twitter accounts cast on the employer.

    • #6
    • January 31, 2018, at 11:22 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  7. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Hoyacon: Their principal value is the reflected glory their Twitter accounts cast on the employer.

    Which has worked so well for ESPN…

    • #7
    • January 31, 2018, at 11:36 AM PST
    • Like
  8. genferei Member
    genferei Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    If the “We” in the title refers to the press then, clearly, the answer is “yes”. Taking Twitter seriously plays to journalists’ lazy solipsism. The rest of us don’t take it seriously at all. (Increasingly, we don’t take the press seriously, either.)

    • #8
    • January 31, 2018, at 11:52 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  9. Nick H Coolidge

    The number of followers one has is often used as a measure of credibility, so it’s not surprising at all to see some people artificially inflate it. Twitter actually encourages this by requiring you to have a certain number of followers in order to follow more people. (I don’t know if it’s a constant ratio or just certain thresholds like needing 1000 followers to follow 2000 yourself.) It’s all taken way too seriously by some people, but what isn’t?

    • #9
    • January 31, 2018, at 11:58 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  10. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    genferei (View Comment):
    If the “We” in the title refers to the press then, clearly, the answer is “yes”. Taking Twitter seriously plays to journalists’ lazy solipsism. The rest of us don’t take it seriously at all. (Increasingly, we don’t take the press seriously, either.)

    If the last 10 years have done nothing, it’s demolished the credibility of the MSM, almost wholly by self-inflicted wounds.

    • #10
    • January 31, 2018, at 12:49 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  11. Stad Thatcher

    Bethany Mandel: Requiring individuals to use their real names wouldn’t just be a heavy lift for the service to verify; it would also send scores of anonymous accounts off.

    Anonymity is what gives rise to trolls online. However, anonymity also gives protection for people who don’t want their views, their charitable contributions, or their political contributions known (especially conservatives, but liberals get caught too).

    Anonymity also protects terrorists, both Islamic and Antifa. Violent protesters have shown up not only on the lawns of both conservative and liberal politicians, but business executives whose only crime is to work for a company the protesters detest.

    This is a dilemma—do we go full disclosure, or total anonymity? I’m leaning towards anonymity, because I can dismiss the rantings and ravings of the loony left. However, I also don’t want my address known, as online search companies are all to eager to provide for a small fee.

    Warning to protesters: do not show up on my front lawn . . .

    • #11
    • January 31, 2018, at 1:55 PM PST
    • Like
  12. Bethany Mandel Editor
    Bethany Mandel

    James Gawron (View Comment):
    Bethany,

    The Washington Post just “adjusted” its 3″ tall front page headline because of a twitter storm. This is the darkest of comedy. A grandiose publication like the Post (only the Times is more grandiose) who have innumerable contributors with resumes that go on infinitely and that write 3000-5000 word essays/editorials/short stories, is now subject to the editorial approval of a semi-literate flash mob that expresses itself in ungrammatical insults limited to 280 (up from 140) characters. That’s characters, not words.

    Thus the crude & rude are now leading the smooth & arrogant by the nose. All the more reason never to open a twitter account.

    Regards,

    Jim

    Was it because of a twitter storm? My husband Seth is at the NYPost and they often change their front pages from edition to edition.

    • #12
    • January 31, 2018, at 2:12 PM PST
    • 1 like
  13. Bethany Mandel Editor
    Bethany Mandel

    genferei (View Comment):
    If the “We” in the title refers to the press then, clearly, the answer is “yes”. Taking Twitter seriously plays to journalists’ lazy solipsism. The rest of us don’t take it seriously at all. (Increasingly, we don’t take the press seriously, either.)

    One of my colleagues at the Federalist, I think it’s Sean Davis, also says the biggest benefit of Twitter is seeing journalists fly their biased flag 100x a day.

    • #13
    • January 31, 2018, at 2:13 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  14. James Madison Member

    Twits on Twitter, and I am one, take themselves and it too seriously. I have portrayed myself as a host of races, genders, classes, doctrines, and nationalities.

    My favorite Twitter game is to tweak that @exjon dude…. he is so – – oh, excuse me a second,…. I just got a call. Say what? Aaaah. Apparently, that @exjon is Jon Gabriel…,… hmmm, ….????

    never mind.

    (FYI, I am of course joking – I read Twitter occassionally and rarely comment. I follow @exjon, he makes me laugh. And occassionaly, I make him laugh.)

    • #14
    • January 31, 2018, at 3:01 PM PST
    • Like
  15. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Bethany Mandel (View Comment):

    James Gawron (View Comment):
    Bethany,

    The Washington Post just “adjusted” its 3″ tall front page headline because of a twitter storm. This is the darkest of comedy. A grandiose publication like the Post (only the Times is more grandiose) who have innumerable contributors with resumes that go on infinitely and that write 3000-5000 word essays/editorials/short stories, is now subject to the editorial approval of a semi-literate flash mob that expresses itself in ungrammatical insults limited to 280 (up from 140) characters. That’s characters, not words.

    Thus the crude & rude are now leading the smooth & arrogant by the nose. All the more reason never to open a twitter account.

    Regards,

    Jim

    Was it because of a twitter storm? My husband Seth is at the NYPost and they often change their front pages from edition to edition.

    Bethany,

    I read all of the twitter back and forth between Glen Greenwald and people in the press. Certainly plenty of plausible deniability in the response. However, if the change in the headline and even the change in editorial choice of the stories was much in keeping with the major trend of the tweets then one may well suspect a relationship. It wouldn’t be something that the glorious Post would like to admit to.

    Something to watch.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #15
    • January 31, 2018, at 6:19 PM PST
    • Like

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.