Info

A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

Posts from the Social Networks Category

Any one paying attention to journalism right now knows that misinformation, disinformation and “fake news” are becoming a more significant part of our cultural landscape. Luckily, we have some very skilled people working to deal with these issue.

Eliot Higgins

In particular, Eliot Higgins and the organisation he founded – Bellingcat – have been doing stellar work around user content from conflict zones, and debunking propaganda. They’re reliant on funding donations – so if you’re serious about fact-checking and journalism, please consider bunging a few quid their way as part of their latest Kickstarter:

There are rewards on offer, including mugs, t-shirts and exclusive posters by the artist Molly Crabapple:

Molly Crabapple art

You can back them on Kickstarter – and if you want to know more, one of my Interactive Journalism MA students, Ella Wilks-Harper, interviewed Eliot Higgins for Interhacktives.

Dale Beran has written a fascinating and compelling long read, drawing a direct line from 4chan springing to life from Something Awful’s forums, to the rise of Trump.

And the bridging factor? Milo. He took the GamerGate movement and connected it up with the burgeoning alt-right via Breitbart, effectively giving Trump another demographic in his electoral coalition. And he did it by battening onto what the Anons were most ashamed of, and making them proud of it:

Here Yiannopoulos has inverted what has actually happened to make his audience feel good. Men who have retreated to video games and internet porn can now characterize their helpless flight as an empowered conscious choice to reject women for something else. In other words, it justifies a lifestyle which in their hearts they previously regarded helplessly as a mark of shame.

It leads to the fascinating conclusion that this part of Trump’s base know that he wasn’t deliver for them – but that’s OK, that’s what they expect. They’re just in it for the lulz.

4chan’s value system, like Trump’s ideology, is obsessed with masculine competition (and the subsequent humiliation when the competition is lost). Note the terms 4chan invented, now so popular among grade schoolers everywhere: “fail” and “win”, “alpha” males and “beta cucks”. This system is defined by its childlike innocence, that is to say, the inventor’s inexperience with any sort of “IRL” romantic interaction. And like Trump, since these men wear their insecurities on their sleeve, they fling these insults in wild rabid bursts at everyone else.

I was familiar with many elements of this story – but I’ve not seen them so well connected before.

Reddit has closed two major alt-right subreddits:

Reddit today blocked two prominent alt-right subreddits over “the proliferation of personal and confidential information.” Commonly referred to as ‘doxing,’ it appears a user (or users) of r/altright and r/AlternativeRight intentionally disseminated personal information of the man believed to have punched alt-right mouthpiece Richard Spencer.

It’s worth noting that the ban wasn’t implemented because of the posters’ politics, it was because of their actions. And that’s as it should be.

Remember when I was amused by Twitter deciding that I’m not a journalist or in the media? Well, now I’m profoundly glad. Why? Well, this little Tweet from a WikiLeaks-affiliated group went out on Friday:

WikiLeaks Doxxing

Of course, many, many screenshots had been saved before it got pulled down:

WikiLeaks itself tried to distance itself from the tweet – rather unconvincingly:

And even the original account tried to walk it back:

That’s a rather disingenuous reply, because the original tweet specified “family/job/financial/housing relationships” (emphasis mine). To track housing relationships, you need to track addresses. And for an organisation as committed to releasing information as WikiLeaks and its supporters have become – that inevitable raises the spectre of doxing – the politically-motivated release of personal information about people.

Inevitably many of my journalist friends on Facebook – the verified ones working on mainstream national publications that is – were nervous about this, mainly because of the mention of family. Most mainstream journalist accept that there is an element of risk in their work – but bringing families into it is frankly sinister.

Here’s a thought: has the little “verified” tick, originally intended to increase trust in Twitter, by making it harder for people to be fooled by fake and imposter accounts, actually proving counter-productive? It makes a really handy target marker for those perceived as “important” – and in these populist times, that makes them targets…

Are you now, or have you ever been, a Viner? In which case, you need to act sharpish, to rescue access to your content. Vine as we know it dies on January 17th, and you only have until then to download your content:

And last but not least, you can now download your Vines through the app or the website. All of your Vines will continue to live on the vine.co website so you can browse all of the amazing videos you created over the years.

Nothing’s being deleted, but if you want access to the original video files, the clock is ticking

Vine - download your files

The Vine app itself is becoming a looping video camera for Twitter:

Here’s what’s coming: in January, we’re transitioning the Vine app to a pared-down Vine Camera. With this camera app you’ll still be able to make six-second looping videos, and either post them directly to Twitter or save them to your phone.

Oh, and Giphy has a handy tool for converting your Vines into Gifs

Snapchat changed the layout of Discover:

Shortly after Snapchat tweaked its Stories page to move Snapchat Discover content closer to the bottom of the page — below stories posted by your friends — multiple Discover publishers saw daily viewership drop. Two Discover publishers said they noticed about a 33 percent drop in daily viewers after the change, which was made in October. Two other Discover channels also had viewership decline following the changes but said the percentages were much smaller.

Live by the platform, die by the platform.

I completely missed this last week: I’ve been tweeting for a decade.

Believe it or not, I was Twitter user number 40,523 – yes, there were only around 40,000 people using Twitter when I joined, and for much of the first year or so I was one of the top Twitter users in London. Those days have, very clearly, long passed.

Running the stats suggests that I:

  • gain 2.1 followers per day, every day
  • tweet 7.8 times a day
  • find somebody new to follow every 1.2 days

Twitter ambivalence

Early Twitter

I first mentioned Twitter on this blog in early 2007:

Twitter is horribly addictive. It allows you update your friends with quick updates as to what you’re doing via text message, IM or the Twitter website. It doesn’t sound like much, but just try it. It’s fascinating getting these small, regular updates about other people’s lives. My latest Twitters appear at the top of the sidebar of this blog’s homepage, and you can subscribe to my updates over at my Twitter page.

(The word “tweets” hadn’t been coined yet.)

A decade in, I find myself in an odd position. Back in early 2007, I was a real evangelist for the service, and was usually dismissed by journalist colleagues (usually ones who would go on to ask me in 2010 why I hadn’t told them about it earlier, or who told me that “I couldn’t have been on it in 2006, because it only launched in 2008”). Now, I’m probably talking about it more than ever, but in a much more nuanced way. I’m far less comfortable with it on a personal level than I once was, although I can’t ignore both its importance to my industry, and to the traffic to this here blog.

I’m not a Twitter doom-monger, but I do feel that some serious product innovation is needed to keep it relevant in a world increasingly dominated by Facebook – and I hope it gets it. And no, I don’t think turning itself into TV is the answer.

It’s certainly not the friendly, intimate place it was a decade ago. And all too often, I open Twitter, and find it a room full of people hawking their wares, or competing to out-banter each other. But when it works, when it really works, there’s nothing quite like it for giving you a real-time pulse of what people are taking about. A decade ago, that was other people doing digital development work. Now, it’s far wider than that. But that real-time, instant social experience has never been bettered. And that’s why I really hope Twitter finds a future for itself.

Ello, the social network you’ve forgotten about, is to launch its own magazine:

Not For Print will help bring the best of Ello into the real world with a tangible, show-it-off-on-your-coffee-table magazine featuring the art of 50 creators on Ello. And we want to see your work in it! Not For Print is another way Ello is committing to provide visibility and opportunity for our incredibly talented community.

I’m sure it’ll be a high quality effort.

And to make a rad fucking magazine.

Well, fairly sure.