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

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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

I have discovered – much to my surprise – that I am not a journalist.

This comes as something of a shock, as that’s exactly what I’ve though of myself as for a quarter of a century now. From the latter days of my student life, working on student magazines, through to my recent career, helping national – and international – newspapers do better digital publishing, journalism is at the very heart of my working life.

Cub editor Adam Tinworth circa 1993

Portrait of the author as a young student magazine editor.

But I am not a journalist. So says Twitter and Facebook. And, as they are now the arbitrators of who is a journalist and who isn’t – I cannot be a journalist.

Twitter says: you’re not a journalist, Tinworth

Twitter declared its verdict first. I popped off a speculative application, once it opened up verification to all comers. The criteria are pretty clear:

We approve account types maintained by users in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business, and other key interest areas.

Well, I’m clearly in both journalism and media, so an easy accept, right?

Wrong:

Twitter verified denied

I am not a journalist. Or in media. Twitter says so.

Now, I’m not that bothered on a personal level – sure, it would have been handy to show my students, many of whom go on to be verified users very quickly, some of the tools that verified status gives you access to. But I can appreciate that I’m an edge case, because I train journalists more than I produce journalism right now.

But when I posted about my rejection on Facebook, many of my journalism friends reported the same experience. It became very clear that Twitter only counts those on national newspapers as journalists. In consumer or business press? Forget it. You are not a real journalist. Twitter says so.

Look at that description above:

We approve account types maintained by users in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business, and other key interest areas.

(Emphasis mine.) There’s no qualification there of “national” or “newspaper” journalism. Just “journalism” and “media”. Twitter has set itself up and an arbiter of who counts as a journalist – and who doesn’t – and most of us don’t count.

Are journalists journalists? Ask a microblogger.

Those with long memories might remember the seemingly endless debates a decade ago about whether bloggers were journalists. There’s not small irony in the fact, that Twitter, a direct descendent of blogging (it was described as “microblogging” in its early days) has now set itself up as an arbiter of who is a journalist and who isn’t. And it’s chosen a very, very tight definition of that. I suspect that has been done to make the verification process easier – and certainly much journalism verification is done directly between social media editors and their liaisons at Twitter – but once they opened up verification, that needed to be rethought. And it wasn’t.

Would any other social networks do something similar? Like, say, Facebook?

A couple of weeks ago, the spawn of Zuckerberg announced that it was helpfully going to educate journalists. (But it’s not a media company, remember)

The social network has created an learning environment, to help journalists use Facebook better. Handy. That’s part of what I do for a living, but having tools like that to support our work. Great.

As part of this journalists are invited to join the News, Media & Publishing group on Facebook. So, I applied:

Applied to Facebook

And that’s how the group looked for a few days. I waited patiently – confident of inclusion, as I could see a friend who works for Twitter and another who runs a technology company were members, surely both more marginal than my case. Hell, there’s other lecturers in there, so I’m at least as qualified as them. Oh, foolish me.

Facebook: denied

And, after a few days, that Pending button turned into:

Denied

Denied. And silently denied, at that.

Yes, Facebook, also now apparently an arbiter of who is a journalist and who isn’t, has declared that I am not a journalist, either. Nor am I in media. Nor publishing, apparently.

So, we might never have solved the question of whether bloggers are journalists. But apparently, I’ve been deluded for the past 25 years that I am a journalist. I’m not. I’m just a blogger, because Facebook and Twitter tell me so.

The power of social networks to define journalism

Given how much power Twitter and, especially, Facebook, have in driving traffic to our sites and mediating our relationships with our readers – are we comfortable with this? Are we happy for them to give a subset of journalists special privileges over others? Because that’s the situation right now. If you’re not a mainstream journalists, working on a know large news site, forget it. Freelancer? Go away. Trade press? You and your professional readers don’t count. Consumer press? No important. That’s just interest not news.

Once upon a time, in the UK at least, the NUJ was pretty much the arbiter of who was a journalist and who wasn’t. I’ve had my issues with the NUJ in the past, but at least they took a wide and thoughtful view on who was entitled to a press card. As the “verfified” tick becomes an de facto mark of journalistic status, we’re now being assessed by people who active claim not to be media companies – and yet who control our traffic and our access to readers.

And the implications of that should give us pause.

The lack of a buyer for Twitter is coming back to bite it:

Twitter is gearing up to lay off 300 employees this week, Bloomberg reports.

That means the company’s workforce will shrink by about 8 percent.

Lord, I hate saying this, given that I’ve been on the wrong side of the layoff equation, and know how utterly horrible it is, but Twitter probably needs this. It’s clearly too bloated for any reasonable expectation of future revenues, and that can’t last forever.

Best wishes to my friends there, though.

Nobody wants to buy Twitter. It made it obvious it was up for sale – but one by one the buys dropped out. The reasons seem numerous – the trolling problem for one. But, at its core, the reluctance seems to be based around the fact that Twitter is out-of-control financially.

John Hampton has a suggestion:

The problem is if you mix this with a Salesforce.com or similar company it will be really hard to take costs out in a disciplined fashion without upsetting the culture of the home company. Instead this should be fixed (with extreme prejudice by a disinterested outsider) before it is sold again to a strategic buyer.

Or – in summary: the best bastards are from Wall Street. And this needs a Wall Street bastard.

It’s unpleasant to think about – especially as I have friends at Twitter – but perhaps what the service need is a brutal paring back of staff and focus to makes it concentrate on improving its core product, rather than odd VR plays.

I badly want Twitter to survive – and thrive – but it really needs an intervention right now.

Silvia Killingsworth on Instagram ads:

Today I was fed a full commercial from Karlie Kloss, which was amazing because it was just a fully produced video ad like the ones you used to see on television when you used to watch live television.

And it is:

Yup, that’s a full-on TV advert. And it’s been commissioned and shot for play on Instagram.

It seems that social networks are becoming the new TV. And in that light the latest “Twitter for sale” rumour makes sense:

Walt Disney Co. is working with a financial adviser to evaluate a possible bid for Twitter Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.

Now streaming on Twitter

Why? Because Twitter is quietly becoming a video company. Mathew Ingram:

With its resources, Disney would be able to help Twitter improve its video streaming and possibly strike new deals with other content providers. As a result of a recent acquisition, Disney owns a stake in BAMTech, the digital arm of Major League Baseball, which runs streaming services for ESPN and others, including Twitter.

As John Gruber put it:

Twitter is a media company and a publishing service, not a social network.

Increasingly I wonder exactly what is a social network in 2016. Snapchat and WhatsApp are less social networks than communication tools. Instagram is a picture sharing service with comms element. Twitter is a publishing platform. Does that just leave Facebook?

Not everyone is certain about Disney making a good partner for Twitter, though:

But if you’re going to spend $18 billion, $20 billion, $30 billion on something, you need a little bit more than “I like the dude who runs the company.”

Bear in mind that Disney acquired Marvel AND Lucasfilm AND Pixar, for $15 billion. Is Twitter really worth as much to it as those three properties put together?

Twitter’s fundamental problem is that it has got seedy

Julieanne Smolinski:

Twitter is like a beloved public park that used to be nice, but now has a rusty jungle gym, dozens of of really persistent masturbators, and a nighttime bat problem. Eventually the Parks Department might rip up the jungle gym, and make some noise about fixing the other problems, because that’s what invisible administrators like Twitter staff and municipal recreation departments tend to do. But if the perverts and the bats got to be bad enough with no recourse, you’d probably just eventually stop going.

Yes. That’s exactly it. And the problem is that the very presence of these people changes the behaviours of others. They become more uptight, vigilant and careful. It makes debate stilted and uncomfortable. And you live in quite dread of being sealioned.

And this is insightful, too:

(Additionally frustrating is that everybody is complaining about the safety issues at the park, and instead of addressing them, the city installs a crazy new slide. What? Nobody was calling for that. What about the perverts? What about the bats?)

It does feel like Twitter is putting a lot of time and effort into making its service more appealing and easy to use for newcomers – while ignoring the major challenge for existing users.