On Twitter Wars

So, there’s something that occurred to me while driving recently. I should point out that I’m not living in fear of an impending war, but it does seem more likely that a (new, American) war will happen in the next three years, compared to in the Obama administration. (I’m basing this on things like the adjustment to the doomsday clock.)

And the thing is, if the Trump administration does, in fact, get involved in a destructive war, it will be the first time (to my knowledge) that Twitter may have been one of the root causes of a war. (Assuming you accept the premise that Twitter was a tool used by the Russians to interfere in the election. If you don’t think that, I’d love to hear why.)

Here’s the thing: Twitter’s users aren’t served by it being populated by up to 15% with ‘fake users’ (from the article below). And Twitter, itself, probably isn’t earning money on them. (I can’t imagine the bots clicking on ads, or, if they are, the advertisers certainly aren’t getting value for money.)

The reason the bots are still on Twitter? Money. Twitter is locked into a broken business model, and unable to kick the bots off.

This is from a Bloomberg article:

And cracking down on bots puts Twitter in a vulnerable position with Wall Street. Investors have penalized the company for failing to get more users. The more that Twitter cracks down on fake accounts and bots, the lower the monthly active user base, the metric most closely watched by Wall Street.

“I think there’s a business reason why Twitter doesn’t want to be good at it. If you have fake accounts and you’re valued around active users, the valuation will be adjusted,” said Scott Tranter, partner at Optimus, a data and technology consultancy.

Which just means that there’s one more reason why, as I wrote before, more of the Internet needs to cost money.

 

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Priorities

You might want to file this under “Toby processes another Twitter exchange in blog post format” and move on. That’s basically what this is.


I understand that I’m not great at social skills. I’m not bad at them, in the way Sheldon Cooper is, it’s just that I keep thinking I’m having fun and being told, after the fact, that I was a jerk. “Why didn’t you tell me this sooner?” Is something I said often as a younger man.

Now, I mostly avoid social situations with people I don’t know and — life hack! — the problem has solved itself.

Except, I try to relate to people, and it’s hard.

Weirdly, I think I can relate to some of the people I really don’t like: Donald Trump, John McCain. The creative writer in me can write backstory, fill in details for these people, such that what they’re doing makes sense from their point of view.

It’s the people who I mostly get along with, or who share my ideas and ideals with who are hard for me to relate to. Ultimately, I think that’s because I think we share a point of view, and I don’t invest a lot of time into thinking about theirs.

And, a lot of my conflicts comes down to this: Why don’t you set some priorities?

In my private life, it’s the divorced/separated dads who say they do everything to be with their kids… but are ‘forced’ into making choices that limit their time with them. (I’ve learned to not say it, but I still think “If the kid’s a priority, just say ‘sorry, that interferes with my goal of spending time with my kid.'”)

With liberals, it’s the agenda. If you care about stopping the ‘radical GOP agenda’ (not sure why I used quotes there, but it feels better than straight up calling people I used to like radical), make that a priority.

That brings us to the twitter exchange I mentioned at the top:

twitterseanspicer

That ‘This Tweet is unavailable’? That comes from me being blocked by the user in question. Because I stuck to my guns on an idea that seems logical to me: if our top priority is stopping the President’s agenda, then we need GOP politicians to ‘switch sides,’ and if we want them to consider switching sides, then we have to incentivize their switching sides. And, if we want to incentivize their switching sides, then we have to accept that making them suffer for their stupidity — or gloating over ‘we were right and you were wrong’ — is a secondary priority and just won’t get to happen.

In the discussion — my first, long, prolonged discussion on Twitter with several people — everything was civil (except for the user who eventually blocked me calling me racist for not hating Sean Spicer sufficiently) but nobody’s opinion was changed.

I drew on every example I could think of where Dems understand that one thing is a priority over another: decriminalization of marijuana, gun buybacks, the embargo on Cuba. No dice.

And I wonder, what would a person who is as right as I think I am but also possessed actual social skills have done? Or, is Twitter just not a place where opinions are changed? Or, am I straight-up wrong?