I’ve had a twitter account for 13 years. I joined while attending a web applications conference in Miami in 2007, where I met some of the original developers as well as other silicon valley tech titans – many before they were widely known by the public. Jack – of course – was not there. As Twitter took the stage, a pair of lowly developers with unkempt hair, and diminutive facial features displayed their new application – a tool for “micro blogging.”
I literally laughed out loud from my seat and then quickly silenced myself as I realized it wasn’t a joke, and none of the other 300 attendees were laughing. They displayed a simple website where one could create an account, and start “tweeting” – typing out 140 characters or less messages.
Oddly enough, it was during their IPO in 2013 that some of the cracks in the system started to reveal themselves to me. At the time I had multiple clients who were in the stocks/options industry – one of which was a penny stock promotion company. As I would later learn there’s a loophole where by firms hired by the parent company, can pay outside agencies a “marketing” fee to help promote the stock. It’s all allowed under the guise of “we’re not investment professionals, making recommendations, etc.” (of course this text is usually buried in tiny font at the bottom of every communication/website) and so a 3rd party company continually re-builds lists of suckers, invests in the stock themselves, disperses information under the false pretenses of “new, hot information” stock goes up, everyone in the know exits, stock plummets, rinse and repeat. To be clear, my firm was involved in design work and as soon as we learned the details of the real operations we parted ways – leaving a $10,000 bill unpaid by the client. Par for the course I suppose.
During this time however, with my “bullshit” monitor on full alert – I noticed some strange things regarding the twitter IPO. Every article that was coming out about it was positive – even from longtime, respected, financial analysts and financial journalists. And they were highlighting the most ridiculous aspects of the tool as groundbreaking technology. I remember one article in particular pontificating about the ability to spread one’s tweets offsite, a decentralized form of communication that doesn’t exist (at the time embed codes and something as dead simple as an iframe were very old ideas – they were clearly using peppery language to help spur investment).
As I’ve learned since then Twitter was and is a total joke, being used by a very very small percentage of the population, is 90% bots, and it’s origins and purpose are even darker than I could have imagined – but that’s a story for another time.
Having been in the digital marketing industry for nearly 20 years, I never once recommended twitter to my clients, as all of our tests showed that there was virtually no real activity on these networks.
It was strange then, that beginning in 2016 with the Trump campaign, that I personally turned to twitter, and was sucked into its digital hellscape. It’s hard to say exactly WHY this first happened, and there are some great accounts, sharing valuable information, but something about this particular platform is very nefarious. I came to learn that Twitter literally harbors pedophiles (where they openly advertise their attraction to kids) – and where (as I was) you’ll be banned for any negative commentary on their behavior.
The tail wagging the dog – ultimately I think this summarizes twitter perfectly. Unlike other networks, directly tied to identity, completely anonymous with virtually no censorship/moderation, Twitter is a tool that allows the tail to wag the dog. A platform run and controlled by a few entities, which allows people to think something is interesting, important in the zeitgeist, or controversial, when in fact – no one is even there.