Read Protocols, Not Platforms: A Technological Approach to Free Speech by Mike Masnick (knightcolumbia.org)
Altering the internet's economic and digital infrastructure to promote free speech

Meanwhile, politicians from the two major political parties have been hammering these companies, albeit for completely different reasons. Some have been complaining about how these platforms have potentially allowed for foreign interference in our elections.3 3. A Conversation with Mark Warner: Russia, Facebook and the Trump Campaign, Radio IQ|WVTF Music (Apr. 6, 2018), https://www.wvtf.org/post/conversation-mark-warner-russia-facebook-and-trump-campaign#stream/0 (statement of Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.): “I first called out Facebook and some of the social media platforms in December of 2016. For the first six months, the companies just kind of blew off these allegations, but these proved to be true; that Russia used their social media platforms with fake accounts to spread false information, they paid for political advertising on their platforms. Facebook says those tactics are no longer allowed—that they’ve kicked this firm off their site, but I think they’ve got a lot of explaining to do.”). Others have complained about how they’ve been used to spread disinformation and propaganda.4 4. Nicholas Confessore & Matthew Rosenberg, Facebook Fallout Ruptures Democrats’ Longtime Alliance with Silicon Valley, N.Y. Times (Nov. 17, 2018), https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/17/technology/facebook-democrats-congress.html (referencing statement by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.): “Mr. Tester, the departing chief of the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm, looked at social media companies like Facebook and saw propaganda platforms that could cost his party the 2018 elections, according to two congressional aides. If Russian agents mounted a disinformation campaign like the one that had just helped elect Mr. Trump, he told Mr. Schumer, ‘we will lose every seat.’”). Some have charged that the platforms are just too powerful.5 5. Julia Carrie Wong, Up Big Tech: Elizabeth Warren Says Facebook Just Proved Her Point, The Guardian (Mar. 11, 2019), https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/mar/11/elizabeth-warren-facebook-ads-break-up-big-tech (statement of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)) (“Curious why I think FB has too much power? Let’s start with their ability to shut down a debate over whether FB has too much power. Thanks for restoring my posts. But I want a social media marketplace that isn’t dominated by a single censor. .”). Others have called attention to inappropriate account and content takedowns,6 6. Jessica Guynn, Ted Cruz Threatens to Regulate Facebook, Google and Twitter Over Charges of Anti-Conservative Bias, USA Today (Apr. 10, 2019), https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2019/04/10/ted-cruz-threatens-regulate-facebook-twitter-over-alleged-bias/3423095002/ (statement of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.)) (“What makes the threat of political censorship so problematic is the lack of transparency, the invisibility, the ability for a handful of giant tech companies to decide if a particular speaker is disfavored.”). while some have argued that the attempts to moderate discriminate against certain political viewpoints.

Most of these problems can all fall under the subheading of the problems that result when social media platforms algorithmically push or accelerate content on their platforms. An individual with an extreme view can publish a piece of vile or disruptive content and because it’s inflammatory the silos promote it which provides even more eyeballs and the acceleration becomes a positive feedback loop. As a result the social silo benefits from engagement for advertising purposes, but the community and the commons are irreparably harmed.

If this one piece were removed, then the commons would be much healthier, fringe ideas and abuse that are abhorrent to most would be removed, and the broader democratic views of the “masses” (good or bad) would prevail. Without the algorithmic push of fringe ideas, that sort of content would be marginalized in the same way we want our inane content like this morning’s coffee or today’s lunch marginalized.

To analogize it, we’ve provided social media machine guns to the most vile and fringe members of our society and the social platforms are helping them drag the rest of us down.

If all ideas and content were provided the same linear, non-promotion we would all be much better off, and we wouldn’t have the need for as much human curation.

Annotated on December 11, 2019 at 11:13AM

That approach: build protocols, not platforms.

I can now see why @jack made his Twitter announcement this morning. If he opens up and can use that openness to suck up more data, then Twitter’s game could potentially be doing big data and higher end algorithmic work on even much larger sets of data to drive eyeballs.

I’ll have to think on how one would “capture” a market this way, but Twitter could be reasonably poised to pivot in this direction if they’re really game for going all-in on the idea.

It’s reasonably obvious that Twitter has dramatically slowed it’s growth and isn’t competing with some of it’s erstwhile peers. Thus they need to figure out how to turn a relatively large ship without losing value.

Annotated on December 11, 2019 at 11:20AM

It would allow end users to determine their own tolerances for different types of speech but make it much easier for most people to avoid the most problematic speech, without silencing anyone entirely or having the platforms themselves make the decisions about who is allowed to speak.

But platforms **are **making **huge **decisions about who is allowed to speak. While they’re generally allowing everyone to have a voice, they’re also very subtly privileging many voices over others. While they’re providing space for even the least among us to have a voice, they’re making far too many of the worst and most powerful among us logarithmic-ally louder.

It’s not broadly obvious, but their algorithms are plainly handing massive megaphones to people who society broadly thinks shouldn’t have a voice at all. These megaphones come in the algorithmic amplification of fringe ideas which accelerate them into the broader public discourse toward the aim of these platforms getting more engagement and therefore more eyeballs for their advertising and surveillance capitalism ends.

The issue we ought to be looking at is the dynamic range between people and the messages they’re able to send through social platforms.

We could also analogize this to the voting situation in the United States. When we disadvantage the poor, disabled, differently abled, or marginalized people from voting while simultaneously giving the uber-rich outsized influence because of what they’re able to buy, we’re imposing the same sorts of problems. Social media is just able to do this at an even larger scale and magnify the effects to make their harms more obvious.

If I follow 5,000 people on social media and one of them is a racist-policy-supporting, white nationalist president, those messages will get drowned out because I can only consume so much content. But when the algorithm consistently pushes that content to the top of my feed and attention, it is only going to accelerate it and create more harm. If I get a linear presentation of the content, then I’d have to actively search that content out for it to cause me that sort of harm.

Annotated on December 11, 2019 at 11:39AM

Moving back to a focus on protocols over platforms can solve many of these problems.

This may also only be the case if large corporations are forced to open up and support those protocols. If my independent website can’t interact freely and openly with something like Twitter on a level playing field, then it really does no good.

Annotated on December 11, 2019 at 11:42AM

And other recent developments suggest that doing so could overcome many of the earlier pitfalls of protocol-based systems, potentially creating the best of all words: useful internet services, with competition driving innovation, not controlled solely by giant corporations, but financially sustainable, providing end users with more control over their own data and privacy—and providing mis- and disinformation far fewer opportunities to wreak havoc.

Some of the issue with this then becomes: “Who exactly creates these standards?” We already have issues with mega-corporations like Google wielding out sized influence in the ability to create new standards like Schema.org or AMP.

Who is to say they don’t tacitly design their standards to directly (and only) benefit themselves?

Annotated on December 11, 2019 at 11:47AM

Read a post by Bix Bix (bix.blog)
Dying to hear what indieweb folks think of the new Jack Dorsey plan to “develop an open and decentralized standard for social media” with “Twitter to ultimately be a client of this standard”. Dorsey claims the effort intends “not only to develop a decentralized standard for social media, but to also build open community around it, inclusive of companies & organizations, researchers, civil society leaders”. Is this Twitter embracing the indieweb, or coopting, or something else?
Read Twitter's Project Bluesky by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller (Ben Werdmüller)
This morning, Jack Dorsey announced that Twitter would be funding an independent group that would develop an open standard for decentralized social networking, with the expectation that the company would use it. Twitter is funding a small independent team of up to five open source architects, engine...
An intriguing take on this (bitcoin pieces aside), though I wonder what sorts of larger scale pieces Twitter might really need and how they’d need to structure things to mitigate those issues. In the early days, their open API gave them cover to allow others to build on their platform while they worked at scaling and keeping the servers up. Once those were stable, they pulled the rug out from under everyone. If things open up and the service is more broadly distributed, are those scale pieces still so necessary (except for their scraping purposes)?
Read Bbbreaking News: Discovering Amateur News Videos by Monitoring Journalists on Twitter by Andy BaioAndy Baio (Waxy.org)

If you’ve ever looked at the replies on any newsworthy amateur video posted to Twitter, you’ll see an inevitable chorus of news organizations and broadcast journalists in the replies, usually asking two questions:

  1. Did you shoot this video?
  2. Can we use it on all our platforms, affiliates, etc with credit?

That gave me an idea, which I posted to Twitter.

Within two days, a talented developer named Corey Johnson made it real by launching Bbbreaking News.

Read What Happened to Tagging? by Alexandra SamuelAlexandra Samuel (JSTOR Daily)
Fourteen years ago, a dozen geeks gathered around our dining table for Tagsgiving dinner. No, that’s not a typo. In 2005, my husband and I celebrated Thanksgiving as “Tagsgiving,” in honor of the web technology that had given birth to our online community development shop. I invited our guests...
It almost sounds like Dr. Samuel could be looking for the IndieWeb community, but just hasn’t run across it yet. Since she’s writing about tags, I can’t help but mischievously snitch tagging it to her, though I’ll do so only in hopes that it might make the internet all the better for it.

Tagging systems were “folksonomies:” chaotic, self-organizing categorization schemes that grew from the bottom up.

There’s something that just feels so wrong in this article about old school tagging and the blogosphere that has a pullquote meant to encourage one to Tweet the quote.
–December 04, 2019 at 11:03AM

I literally couldn’t remember when I’d last looked at my RSS subscriptions.
On the surface, that might seem like a win: Instead of painstakingly curating my own incoming news, I can effortlessly find an endless supply of interesting, worthwhile content that the algorithm finds for me. The problem, of course, is that the algorithm isn’t neutral: It’s the embodiment of Facebook and Twitter’s technology, data analysis, and most crucial, business model. By relying on the algorithm, instead of on tags and RSS, I’m letting an army of web developers, business strategists, data scientists, and advertisers determine what gets my attention. I’m leaving myself vulnerable to misinformation, and manipulation, and giving up my power of self-determination.

–December 04, 2019 at 11:34AM

You might connect with someone who regularly used the same tags that you did, but that was because they shared your interests, not because they had X thousand followers.

An important and sadly underutilized means of discovery. –December 04, 2019 at 11:35AM

I find it interesting that Alexandra’s Twitter display name is AlexandraSamuel.com while the top of her own website has the apparent title @AlexandraSamuel. I don’t think I’ve seen a crossing up of those two sorts of identities before though it has become more common for people to use their own website name as their Twitter name. Greg McVerry is another example of this.

Thanks to Jeremy Cherfas[1] and Aaron Davis[2] for the links to this piece. I suspect that Dr. Samuel will appreciate that we’re talking about this piece using our own websites and tagging them with our own crazy taxonomies. I’m feeling nostalgic now for the old Technorati…

Listened to Designed to Intimidate from On the Media | WNYC Studios

Millions tuned into impeachment hearings this week — the first two of five already scheduled. On this week’s show, why shifts in public opinion may not necessarily sway the GOP. Plus, what we can learn from the predatory tactics that enriched Bill Gates.

1. Nicole Hemmer [@pastpunditry], author of Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politicson the false premise underlying hope for President Trump's removal. Listen.

2. John Dean [@JohnWDean] former White House counsel, on the lessons he's applying from Watergate to the impeachment hearings for President Trump. Listen.

3. Former Labor Secretary Rob Reich [@RBReich] and Goliath author Matt Stoller [@matthewstoller] on how billionaires like Bill Gates use their power and wealth to force their vision on society. Listen.

IndieWeb is the beginning of the end of the gilded age of social media. Major corporations like Facebook, Twitter, et al. have made having an internet presence and communicating with others simple and free. We now know that their definition of “free” is far from our definition.

It’s like the drug dealer who says you can get bribed or you can get a bullet. […] What you always see with monopolists who control an important platform: they use control of that platform to take control of markets that have to live on that platform.

— Matt Stoller, a Fellow at the Open Markets Institute, in On the Media: Designed to Intimidate [November 15, 2019]
Previously, Stoller was a Senior Policy Advisor and Budget Analyst to the Senate Budget Committee and also worked in the US House of Representatives on financial services policy, including Dodd-Frank, the Federal Reserve, and the foreclosure crisis.

Facebook values you at around $158.[1]

Facebook profits off of its 1.4 billion daily users in a big way: According to its most recent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the average revenue per user in 2017 was $20.21 ($6.18 in the fourth quarter alone). Users in the U.S. and Canada were worth even more because of how big the markets are.

Money.com in March 2018

Now that you know what you and your data are worth, why not invest in yourself instead?

For about $5 a month or $60 a year, you can pay for an account on micro.blog and have a full suite of IndieWeb tools at your disposal. It’s simple, beautiful, but most importantly it gives you control of your own data and an open and independent presence on the entire web instead of a poor simulacrum of it walled away from everyone else. Of course there are other options available as well, just ask how you can get started.

Read How to Compose an Annotation-based Tweet by Jon Udell|

Annotation is one way to remix the web, Twitter is another. The two approaches can play nicely together but, to make best use of the combination, it helps to understand what happens when you tweet a Hypothesis direct link.

Annotation example featuring Chris Aldrich

Oh, look Jon uses an annotation I made as an example in his post!
Liked a tweet by Matt BaerMatt Baer (Twitter)

This UI “feature” always drives me bonkers too!
Replied to Show conditional Twitter intents with Eleventy by Sia KaramalegosSia Karamalegos (sia.codes)
Encourage users to retweet or share a post based on whether a Tweet already exists for your blog post.
This reminds me that I had done a portion of this sort of work for my site a while back as a proof of concept and particularly with relation to Threaded conversations between WordPress and Twitter. I had meant to finish the sketch and turn it into a WordPress plugin or possibly roll it up into the Syndication Links plugin. Perhaps that makes sense as I’m already using it to show where I’ve syndicated copies of my content and it will contain the appropriate tweet ID data. Similar UI could be added for content sent to Flickr, Instagram, and Mastodon presuming the provide similar actions. Perhaps this will be a mini project I can circle back around to during the pending holidays?

I love how Sia has implemented it on her static Eleventy site where she’s kept the UI nice and clean. I particularly like the way she’s done the design and layout and made it more like a call to action.

Sia's Twitter call to action showing a Twitter blue bird icon with the text "Join the conversation on Twitter. Or, if you liked this article and think others should read it, please retweet it."

To take the Twitter actions a half-step further, she could URL wrap the word “liked” with the like action on Twitter.

In general, this reminds me a lot of the idea of webactions, though I don’t think that many have been experimenting with them as of late. Perhaps it’s because of the growth of Microsub-based feed readers that have built-in Micropub support?

Hat-tip:

Comparing Inoreader’s user interface for their internal tweets versus RSS tweets

For a long time I’ve been consuming the majority of my Twitter feed within various feed readers. My most frequent feed reader is Inoreader, though I’ve been experimenting with and using some IndieWeb influenced microsub-based feed readers for quite a while.

Earlier today I thought I’d try out Inoreader’s Twitter integration and subscribe to some of my twitter lists using that instead of importing feeds directly from outside services. (I’ve been a big fan of using Ryan Barrett’s Twitter-Atom and related tools.) One of the things that had always bothered me about third party RSS feeds into most feed readers is that the author of the post is in such tiny text and there is no avatar indicator of who wrote the post. As a result I’m stuck spending a lot more cognitive load trying to discern the author of a tweet before or after reading it. It just boils down to less than optimal user interface.

Fortunately Inoreader seems to have a slightly better method for doing this (since they control the user interface and are presumably using the Twitter API). Within their reader, Tweets look a tad bit more standard with respect to the usual Twitter client and include an avatar and the name of the author in larger font. Sadly, though they have control over the UI, they’re still including a bolded version of the the text of the tweet as a title and thereby needlessly duplicating some of the content. It would be far better for notes, status updates and other content that typically doesn’t have (or need) a title if they would simply just leave it out. They could then use the extra space to have a larger font for reading the short status update. In fact, most of the IndieWeb-based feeds I read in Inoreader have these unnecessary titles included which typically not only look bad from a UI perspective, but they again needlessly duplicate content I don’t need.

Below I’m including screenshots of the two different methods of reading Tweets via Inoreader. I’m also including a screenshot of how Tweets look like in Monocle when fed in via the same Atom feed that was used in the Inoreader case. In Monocle’s version, it’s got a nice larger and easier to discern author name, but it too is missing the author photo (or avatar), in part because the feed doesn’t include it as a default. I suspect that if the feed included it, Monocle would display it properly though the Inoreader version probably wouldn’t. The Monocle version also includes a copy of the photo in the Tweet twice because the feed adds it in a second time as an enclosure.

UI example of a tweet within Inoreader using their native Twitter support.
UI example of a tweet within Inoreader imported using a third party RSS-based client.
UI example of a tweet within Monocle imported using a third party RSS-based client.

For completeness, I’m including the text of the Atom feed for this particular tweet so that we can see what is or isn’t being included in the Inoreader and Monocle versions.

<entry>
<author>
 <activity:object-type>http://activitystrea.ms/schema/1.0/person</activity:object-type>
 <uri>https://twitter.com/BigHistoryPro</uri>
 <name>Big History Project</name>
</author>
    <activity:object-type>http://activitystrea.ms/schema/1.0/note</activity:object-type>
  <id>https://twitter.com/BigHistoryPro/status/1195385992728985600</id>
  <title>In an ideal world, you’d have 1-on-1 time with every student to discuss every...</title>
  <content type="xhtml">
  <div xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
In an ideal world, you’d have 1-on-1 time with every student to discuss every aspect of every writing assignment. With BHP score, you come close. <br />
<a href="https://bh-p.co/2N1xopV">bh-p.co/2N1xopV</a>
<p>
<a class="link" href="https://twitter.com/BigHistoryPro/status/1195385992728985600">
<img class="u-photo" src="https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EJbdObjXkAQ6QNw.jpg" alt="" />
</a>
</p>
  </div>
  </content>
  <link rel="alternate" type="text/html" href="https://twitter.com/BigHistoryPro/status/1195385992728985600" />
  <link rel="ostatus:conversation" href="https://twitter.com/BigHistoryPro/status/1195385992728985600" />
      <link rel="ostatus:attention" href="https://bh-p.co/2N1xopV" />
      <link rel="mentioned" href="https://bh-p.co/2N1xopV" />   <activity:verb>http://activitystrea.ms/schema/1.0/post</activity:verb>
  <published>2019-11-15T17:00:04+00:00</published>
  <updated>2019-11-15T17:00:04+00:00</updated>
  <link rel="self" type="application/atom+xml" href="https://twitter.com/BigHistoryPro/status/1195385992728985600" />
      <link rel="enclosure" href="https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EJbdObjXkAQ6QNw.jpg" type="image/jpeg" />
</entry>

In sum, I generally like the UI of the Inoreader version, though they could still do with removing the redundant and unnecessary title. The Monocle version is likely the best, but I’d need to find a feed method that also includes the avatar to have a better representation of the original Tweet. Even with these differences, I think I tend to prefer Monocle at the end of the day because it also automatically includes Micropub functionality which means that I can post my reactions (likes, reposts, or comments) directly to my website and syndicate copies directly to Twitter. (This is also in consideration of my previously having set up some separate functionality for forcing Inoreader to allow me to post some of this same sort of data to my website by other means.)

Has anyone found better/prettier or more useful ways of consuming Twitter in third party means while allowing one to own their data?

I was already partway there, but following on Ryan Barrett’s excellent suggestion, I spent a few minutes today and added several of my favorite Twitter lists to my feed reader. I spend less and less time in Twitter because all the notifications come to me via my own site and webmentions. I’m not unfollowing people to completely clean out the timeline just yet since there are a few people who have private accounts and I’d need to refollow or do something unique to cover them.

I do wish someone had a simple method of following the one or two people who have blocked me (I’m presuming they did so accidentally or I’ve been rolled up in a larger block list and they weren’t aware.) I was half-hoping that some API and list workarounds would work, but I’m stuck with creating another account and following separately or manually revisiting their feeds at scheduled intervals. I don’t need to interact with them so much as I have to read their excellent work. If anyone has ideas to fix this, I’m open to suggestions.

❤️ vboykis tweeted I can forgive Twitter for stuff like,,,destroying the free world and inciting cancel culture

Liked a tweet by Vicki Boykis on TwitterVicki Boykis on Twitter (Twitter)
Vicki, I’m sure you mentioned it purely for your awesome and inimitable snark and you’re obviously otherwise aware… but for everyone else who’s suffering:

Why not keep your avatar on a website you own and control? If it’s at a permalink you control, you can even replace the photo and those who hotlink/transclude it will allow you to update it automatically over time. As an example, I keep one of me at https://www.boffosocko.com/logo.jpg. Having a permalink to my own avatar was the only reason I got a website, and now look what I’ve gotten myself into…

If I recall correctly, when you delete or replace those Twitter avatars, the old links go dead and they generate a new link anyway.