Leaving Twitter

When I joined Twitter in 2009, it was a place to find interesting people sharing interesting ideas and learning from one another.  You could ask questions on very technical topics, and people would take the time to reply in detailed and thoughtful ways.

Over time, more and more people joined and the conversations grew. Twitter became my default source of news. I could get answers to problems and queries of a far better quality than I ever could with an algorithmic search engine. I was also able to help out other people by replying to their queries too. It was a place of learning, sharing and growing together.

Sadly as with everything in the modern world, capitalism takes over. Nobody sees the value in something unless it makes money, and while I long for the day when we realise as a species that this love of wealth creation doesn’t do us any good in the long run, Twitter decided to jump in with both feet. And so it was that I started seeing ‘promoted’ tweets. I called them adverts.

Businesses rushed into the space. At first as a communications channel with their customers, but it wasn’t long before they too fell into the capitalist trap and started pretend conversations talking about their products and services and employing people to tweet and re-tweet their messages.

Early on in the life of Twitter, you could ‘favourite’ a tweet. A way of bookmarking tweets which you wanted to come back to later.  Maybe they were ones which contained a useful tip, or a link to another article somewhere that you would read later. Twitter killed this by renaming a favourite to a ‘like’ (complete with new childish animations), and users from other social networks where likes were common brought their own bad habits with them. Proper conversation suffered, and the atmosphere changed. Things were now stuck in a  rut. Tweet -> like -> dead-end.

As recent years have passed I’ve witnessed a gradual decline in the quality of conversations. There has also been a real polarisation of opinions (regardless of subject) and many Twitter users seem incapable of independent thought now. They just follow their own tribes in terms of political or social views and vehemently attack anyone who dares to suggest an alternative world view.

The nail in the coffin for me was Twitter’s change to its privacy policy, which meant that they would no longer honour the ‘do not track’ setting in my browser and would begin to track my movements across the internet on other sites outside of Twitter. That’s not the attitude of a company that cares about its customers or values their privacy.

So, I’m out. I don’t think I’ll miss it at all.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

3 replies on “Leaving Twitter”

But you can only change from within.
I see your point – but how can you expect the costs of infrastructure and also increasingly moderation (to avoid to abuse by the far right as well as terror organisations) to be paid for?
What’s the alternative – and I bet you are missing twitter – I think I would if I were to leave.

I think the decentralised federated networks based on GNU Social (previously StatusNet) might gain some traction. There are quite a few instances of these popping up under the Mastodon banner at the moment.

OK, So I admit defeat on this one.
People kept saying things like “did you hear about…” and “did you know that…” and “what do you think of…” and I realised that I was missing out on news. Yep, actual news. I tried to use TV and internet news sites for a few more days and then rejoined Twitter! I managed about 3 weeks without it.

I was also missing a lot of interesting updates from other techies, and it’s been nice to have that back.

I have removed the client from my phone’s main screen though, and switched off notifications, so I do have to make a conscious effort to check Twitter at least. I’m not posting anywhere near as often as I did either. A reasonable compromise, I guess.

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