GioCities

blogs by Gio

Tagged: twitter

🖱 Fake Twitter Accounts

  • Posted in cyber

Remember when Elon Musk was trying to weasel out of overpaying for Twitter? During this very specific May 2022-Jul 2022 period, there was a very artificial discourse manufactured over the problem of “fake accounts” on Twitter.

The reason it was being brought up was very stupid, but the topic stuck with me, because it’s deeply interesting in a way that the conversation at the time never really addressed.

So this is a ramble on it. I think this is all really worth thinking about, just don’t get your hopes up that it’s building to a carefully-constructed conclusion. ;)

Argument is stupid🔗

First, to be clear, what was actually being argued at the time was exceedingly stupid. I’m not giving that any credit.

After committing to significantly overpay to purchase Twitter with no requirements that they do due diligence (yes, really!) Elon Musk tried to call off the deal.

This was a pretty transparent attempt to get out of the purchase agreement after manipulating the price, and it was correctly and widely reported as such.

Scott Nover, “Inside Elon Musk’s legal strategy for ditching his Twitter deal”

Elon Musk has buyer’s remorse. On April 25, the billionaire Tesla and SpaceX CEO agreed to buy Twitter for $44 billion, but since then the stock market has tanked. Twitter agreed to sell to Musk at $54.20 per share, a 38% premium at the time; today it’s trading around $40.

That’s probably the real reason Musk is spending so much time talking about bots.

I don’t want to get too bogged down in the details of why Elon was using this tactic, but fortunately other people wrote pages and pages about it, so I don’t have to.

🖱 The Failure of Account Verification

  • Posted in cyber

The “blue check” — a silly colloquialism for an icon that’s not actually blue for the at least 50% of users using dark mode — has become a core aspect of the Twitter experience. It’s caught on other places too; YouTube and Twitch have both borrowed elements from it. It seems like it should be simple. It’s a binary badge; some users have it and others don’t. And the users who have it are designated as… something.

In reality it’s massively confused. The first problem is that “something”: it’s fundamentally unclear what the significance of verification is. What does it mean? What are the criteria for getting it? It’s totally opaque who actually makes the decision and what that process looks like. And what does “the algorithm” think about it; what effects does it actually have on your account’s discoverability?

This mess is due to a number of fundamental issues, but the biggest one is Twitter’s overloading the symbol with many conflicting meanings, resulting in a complete failure to convey anything useful.

xkcd twitter_verification

History of twitter verification🔗

Twitter first introduced verification in 2009, when baseball man Tony La Russa sued Twitter for letting someone set up a parody account using his name. It was a frivolous lawsuit by a frivolous man who has since decided he’s happy using Twitter to market himself, but Twitter used the attention to announce their own approach to combating impersonation on Twitter: Verified accounts.

🖱 Twitter Blue is a late-stage symptom

  • Posted in cyber

Twitter Blue! $5/mo for Premium Twitter. It’s the latest thing that simply everyone.

News articles about twitter blue

I have an issue with it, but over a very fundamental point, and one Twitter shares with a lot of other platforms. So here’s why it’s bad that Twitter decided to put accessibility features behind a paywall, and it isn’t the obvious.

Client/Server architecture in 5 seconds🔗

All web services, Twitter included, aren’t just one big magic thing. You can model how web apps work as two broad categories: the client and the server. The client handles all your input and output: posts you make, posts you see, things you can do. The server handles most of the real logic: what information gets sent to the client, how posts are stored, who is allowed to log in as what accounts, etc.