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Twitter

X, better known as Twitter,1) is a microblogging, social networking service that was co-founded by four Odeo employees2) on March 21, 20063) and managed as a public company from 20074) to 2022.5) The service was later acquired by Elon Musk for $44 billion on October 27, 2022.6)

In 2023, Twitter, Inc. merged into X Corp.7) and, as foreshadowed,8) Twitter started rebranding to “X” on July 23, 2023.9) On the surface, the company wants a super app like WeChat,10) while others may see a resentful old man11) going through a midlife crisis.12)13)

Summary

The service revolves around short-form posts,14) but users can also upload media, hold polls, and attach a location, though posts can't be edited without a subscription. From there, other users may like your post, share it to their account, or leave a reply if willing. Users may change their timeline by following or unfollowing accounts, except the website notably pushes the highly algorithmic “for you” timeline by default.

A chronological timeline is available under the “following” tab, but the website will default to the “for you” tab unless you use a third-party extension or third-party client. Be warned that your likes and follows might be seen by other people,15) so please keep the bookmark function in mind. Main functionalities aside, they have an annoying news widget and will push “spaces” unless you join a community.

Criticism

Community and corporation

It can be said that the platform is quite misanthropic(human-hating), inflicting a great amount of stress that people become reluctant to use the service or outright quit. The character limit makes it easy for users to misinterpret one another, you can easily instigate fights with complete strangers, and trolls generally have no issues finding a new target since the platform is incredibly open,16) even if the search functionality is a bit broken.

As for the company, it always struggled with profits.17) While their company is no longer required to provide financial statements going private, we continue to hear that, despite their mass layoffs,18) it continues to follow the trend of declining revenue and rising expenses.19)20)21) In 2021, the website added a subscription service called “Twitter Blue”, now “X Premium”, though it has very little benefits.

Bias and manipulation

Under its previous owners, Twitter was becoming a blatant outlet for Western propaganda. The platform was initially discrete with co-founder Jack Dorsey on a U.S. state-affiliated trip to then-occupied Iraq,22) then the platform became the center of the pro-reform Green Revolution in Iran.23)24) After many years, Twitter hired a former PsyOp officer25)26) and pushed an “Explore” tab with curated headlines.27)

As foreign electoral interference became a rising concern, Twitter hired former FBI agents and members of the Atlanticist think tank Atlantic Council,28) then partnered with pro-defensive strategy think tank ASPI29) who are known to smear countries that allegedly threaten Western hegemony,30)31)32) specifically Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, China, and Venezuela.33)

With the 2022 acquisition, the curation team that controlled the headlines were laid off,34)35)36) which meant that Twitter's arbitrators of “misinformation”37) and its overbearing political 38) “narratives”39) were gone. However, this doesn't excuse Musk's work with the U.S. government,40) nor the Saudi41)42) and Qatari funding that went into the acquisition,43) but his Twitter Files do confirm Twitter's past FBI ties.44)45)

Major API changes

On January 12, 2023, the platform changed its API, breaking third-party clients in the process,46) and began enforcing “long-standing API rules”47) that bans developers from creating alternative third-party clients.48) It was then announced that free API access would end,49)50) but the community backlash led to the plans being changed to cede a limited form of free API access instead.51)52)

Third-party extensions

No auto-blocking or mass blocking extensions.
While useful, they overlook the existence of users who are oblivious to the Blue/Premium stigma, and users that have a “follows ≠ endorsements” policy or will admit to “hate following” to inflate their ego for some reason.

Third-party services

English services

  • Curious Cat [@curiouscatme] - It's a Q&A service with a glaring orange theme and uses a hideous mobile-based interface, but it does let you attach image files and share answers.
  • Retrospring [@retrospring] - The better Q&A service with basic markdown, custom themes, and lets you choose the default name for anonymous users.
  • TwitLonger [@twitlonger] - An off-site blogging service that has let people write longer posts since 2008. Due to the recent API changes, it cannot be used at the time of this writing.

Japanese services

  • Marshmallow [@marshmallow_qa] - It's a basic Q&A service with AI filtering that hopes to keep users safe, thus the whole soft marshmallow analogy.
  • Odaibako [@odaibako] - A simple service with a simple inbox, originally intended to have artists collect drawing request ideas, but the inbox can be repurposed as the user's discretion.
  • Privatter [@privatter] - An off-site blogging service with a handful of privacy features, such as password-protected posts and restricting posts to only be viewable by followers.
  • Skeb [@skeb_jp] - It's an artist “commission” service54) that uses a lot of wasei-eigo terminology, so please read the client guidelines and be very specific with your paid drawing request.

Notes

  • Please keep in mind that the platform is not anonymous, does not always reflect real life,55) and the spaghetti code is unreliable, so please don't obsess over follower counts either.
  • Despite its long history of selling user data,56)57) a phone number must be tied to your account, forcing people to use a burner phone58) or borrow someone else's phone number to avoid this.
    • Be warned that people can find your account if they have your phone number, so I'd uncheck the option under “discoverability & contacts” if you want your digital identity separate.
  • From 2010 to 2023, Twitter had an iconic blue bird mascot named Larry,59) referencing the former NBA player Larry Bird. Coincidentally, the mascot and the player ended up having 13 year careers.
  • The emoji-like icon that shows up after certain hashtags (e.g. brands, trends) are called “hashflags” which became a permanent addition in 2014.60) These became “hashmojis” in the rebrand.61)
  • Back then, Twitter would suppress trends after they've trended for a certain amount of time as a way to keep the news fresh, but users eventually discovered you could circumvent this with typos.
  • The old “verified badge” (blue checkmark) application once asked you to have three news articles, from verified news organizations, written about you in the past six months!62)
    • If you applied for the gold checkmark, intended for businesses and verified organizations,63) please be aware that your application may be denied and they will not refund your $1,000.
  • Around 2019, the platform started becoming a home for cryptocurrency discussion64) which eventually seeped into the company itself. During the NFT craze, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey sold his first tweet for $2.9 million on March 22, 2021, though it's worthless now.65)66) By 2022, the company claims that cryptocurrency was one of the “highest-growing topics” at the time.67)
    • In the October 2022 report, the company also noted that NSFW content (i.e. nudity, pornography) was the other “highest-growing topic”, explicitly saying 13% of Twitter is adult content.68)
    • During the acquisition, Binance reportedly gave $500 million to Elon Musk,69) which means that a cryptocurrency exchange makes up 1.13% of his $44 billion acquisition.
  • You can always mute people if you don't want to give them the satisfaction of being blocked~ :P
  • If you want a stealthier way to follow accounts without actually following them, you could always make a private list and, if needed, pin the list. However, this will obviously not work on private accounts.
  • In the Japanese community, “FF-gai kara shitsureishimasu” (FF外から失礼します), or “FF-gai” (FF外), is an overly polite preface meaning “neither of us follow each other, so pardon my intrusion.”
  • For some reason, Elon Musk always replies “interesting”, “concerning”, “looking into it/this”, and “wow”.
  • Why is it called “X” if the URL still has “Twitter” in it?
  • Did you know that Twitter's WHOIS states that the domain was made in 2000.
1)
The website was previously known as “Twitter” from 2006 to 2023.
2)
It should be noted that Blogger co-founder Evan Williams is one of Twitter's co-founders, so keep in mind that Odeo, Obvious Corporation, Twitter, and Medium didn't exactly come out of nowhere.
3)
"just setting up my twttr" (March 21, 2006). Twitter.
4)
"A Conversation With Twitter Co-Founder Jack Dorsey" (February 12, 2009). The Daily Anchor.
5)
"How Twitter Will Change as a Private Company" (October 28, 2022). The New York Times.
7)
"Twitter, Inc. is now X Corp." (April 11, 2023). TechCrunch.
11)
Musk is a divorced man in his 50s who previously had three partners and, depending on your sources, roughly nine or ten children with the most recent two being out-of-wedlock.
15)
This can be a issue if you follow accounts who like pornographic content. In the past, Twitter didn't put likes onto the timeline until August 2014, so those who liked it in secret were suddenly exposed.
16)
A number of social networking services limit their search engine to find tagged posts, pages, or users, but Twitter's search engine grabs almost anything, making it easy for trolls to fish for their next target.
23)
"Evaluating Iran's Twitter Revolution" (June 18, 2010). The Atlantic.
30)
"The think tank behind Australia's changing view of China" (February 15, 2020). Australian Financial Review.
44)
"KABOOM 💥💥💥💥💥" [Archive] (December 16, 2022). Twitter.
54)
Be warned that a “commission” is different within the Japanese internet. The client may send a “drawing request” with an offering, but they must be very detailed since they're not allowed to contact the creator before, during, or after about the request (e.g. changes, details, estimate, reasons for denying, etc.). You will be banned from Skeb if you are found violating these terms and won't be able to appeal.
55)
To give a non-political example: it's very easy to find overenthusiastic crypto nerds on the internet, but don't expect to find said groups as easily in a real world setting.
60)
"Gearing up for all things #WorldCup" (June 10, 2014). Twitter.
twitter.txt · Last modified: 2024-05-16 12:48:38 by namelessrumia