A break-up letter

Dear Twitter,

We’ve grown apart. I really liked you in the beginning, but people change in seven years, and venture-capital funded, pivoting start-ups sure change a lot. We had some pretty good times – over sixty thousand tweets, some 8k followers, 32k favs given and 38k received.

It all started out so small and idyllic, just a few hundred people sharing their daily lives. We met in “real life” without the awkward smalltalk introductions – how’s the husband? the children? the dog? still listen to post-avantgarde black metal? – that kind. Twitter was the perpetual conversation, sometimes more intimate, sometimes less, and it brought up grand thoughts of the power of weak ties. A diverse group sharing the excitement of a new and previously unshaped medium. I made many friends and formed intimate bonds with people I had never even “really” met. It was the best of IRC and Usenet and MUDs combined, and it came with an open API to boot.

You are the reason for the first Twitter reading – and my going there –, which catapulted me to Twitter stardom in those early days (a thousand followers! corrected for inflation, that’s like a few million now!). We have been together through the fight against internet filtering and censorship in Germany (Zugangserschwerungsgesetz), which led me to AK Zensur, which in turn led me to Wikileaks, and also, some amazing people and parties. And my other fifteen minutes of fame, Wir sind Einzelfall, would hardly have been possible without you.

But you’ve grown, and you’ve changed. You’re not the shapeless medium I used to know. You show me advertisements for things I don’t care about as if you didn’t know me at all. You algorithmically select content to show me from people I don’t follow, which never works out well. You try to get me to engage with celebrities, brands, even governments. You have become a political actor in more ways than one.

As one of the primary means of communication for an entire generation worldwide, you need to do more to combat censorship. You absolutely need to step up your game regarding abuse and harassment. The amount of misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, racism, antisemitism, and all other kinds of -isms and hate is completely unacceptable, and that your only suggestion is “block and possibly report the offending users” is also unacceptable. It would be laughable if real people weren’t being harmed.

Instead of effecting social change, you are developing ever better ways to let privileged people enjoy their privileged lives, with better animations. You don’t seem to listen, you don’t seem to care, except about reach, eyeballs, money and other old economy shit. I cannot trust you, because both your technology and your morals are unstable and prone to breaking.

The Twitter I came to love is gone. Its last remnants are dispersed in the hidden corners of “dark twitter”, a network of protected accounts, but it is like talking through a barrier while wearing camouflage and a mask. Everything is tinny and muffled. And of course, your algorithms are still listening, and so is the NSA and probably every other spy agency.

The times, they have changed.

And so I move on.

Unfollowt, was euch kaputt macht.

@moeffju on Twitter

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