Friday, November 28, 2014


They're partying like it's 1999:
Many of the “users” on social media sites aren’t real people at all – they’re celebrity staff tweeting on behalf of their employer, or PRs promoting a company, or even fake accounts for people that don’t exist at all. In fact, half of all Twitter accounts created in 2013 have already been deleted.

These fake accounts are often created by unscrupulous firms that will beef up your follower count in return for cold hard cash. “Twitter is in the centre of public interest and politicians or companies are often ranked by number of followers or re-tweets or the like – so, there is a whole “web optimisation” industry offering services to make you look better on Twitter – everybody can buy 10,000 followers for $5,” Pfeffer said.
Emphasis added. I've been using Twitter more over the last few weeks thanks to GamerGate, and while it's a useful tool, its utility is strictly limited. I'm a little surprised Google hasn't launched a competitor yet, but the problem with Twitter is the same as it is with all self-expression platforms: most people simply don't have all that much to say.

We all know why the stock market bubble exists; all that Fed money has to go somewhere. But an economy based on the value of companies making it possible to pass very short virtual texts around strikes me as one of the few things dumber than simply making leaves legal tender.



Anonymous cheddarman November 28, 2014 12:49 PM  

Are you saying that we are heading for a "Shoe event horizon" type of economic event?

Blogger Tommy Hass November 28, 2014 12:51 PM  

Wouldn't mind seeing the pinkos lose money...

Anonymous Word November 28, 2014 1:17 PM  

I've been followed by accounts that have advertised in the description that they have followers for sale, with prices. Whether they could actually deliver I can't say.

Blogger Joel C. Salomon November 28, 2014 1:22 PM  

Google+ exists: its conversation view is far better than Facebook’s (posts can be searched for, comments can be linked to) and even for short “see this” links its interface is better than Twitter’s.

Anonymous Gordon November 28, 2014 1:30 PM  

I'm a heavy twitter user and I don't follow any company accounts. If I wanted ads, I'd go to facebook or, god forbid, turn on the TV.

I use twitter for the conversation, and find the concept of measuring your virtual dick over followers stupid. I follow interesting people, the same way I subscribe to interesting bloggers. A lot of people can't understand the microblogging concept, but it is very real.

Regarding fake accounts, it is normal, and we only know this information because all twitter accounts are pubic. I wonder how many gmail usernames are never used or deleted...

Anonymous Anubis November 28, 2014 1:41 PM  

10,000 fake followers for $5 sounds like a good gag Christmas gift.

Blogger Simon Jester November 28, 2014 1:44 PM  

Google has competed by shifting the market. Their Google Circles supposedly have all the advantages of twitter without many of the drawbacks. Friend grouping, selective communication audiences, differentiating between the "tweet" (brief blurb with a pointer) and the "content" (the circle's entry which is almost like a blog post).

Circles doesn't get nearly the attention it deserves, simply because it isn't built to a lowest common denominator but to actually solve the problems posed by Facebook and Twitter. The difference between multi-cast and broadcast can't be overstated in a ubiquitously connected society.

Anonymous The other skeptic November 28, 2014 2:18 PM  

OT: Mogadishu in Bristol

Blogger Nate November 28, 2014 2:24 PM  

"most people simply don't have all that much to say."

it is worse. Not only do they have nothing to say... they have an undeniable urge to say it.

Blogger Outlaw X November 28, 2014 2:26 PM  

most people simply don't have all that much to say.

Bull, I have a lot to say. Like that thang I was talking about the other day. I can't remember what exactly it was, but it was real important.

Anonymous Make Money Fast on Twitter November 28, 2014 2:31 PM  

In the beginning there was email, and it was pretty good, leading to newsgroups. Then Cantor and Seigal fired off the first mass email advertising their services, nearly breaking the Internet in the process. In a few years spammers were sourcing the majority of email.

Similar pattern with Twitter? Looks like it. Surprised?

Anonymous Godfrey November 28, 2014 2:44 PM  

What's Tweeter?

Anonymous Grey Enlightenment November 28, 2014 3:01 PM  

Not sure how this is big deal. Twitter and Facebook have huge growth and 95% of Faceb0ok's users are real. A lot of people want to see web 2.0 fail, but it wont happen. Twitter is crap most of the time, but there is some useful stuff occasionally. It's weird when someone who has 100k followers only gets one re-tweet or one favorite. It's like all their follows are inactive, fake or ignoring the tweet.

Anonymous Difster November 28, 2014 3:14 PM  

I've had several offers to buy followers and I'm wondering why anyone would do that. Why pay to be followed by a bunch of accounts that don't care.

I've got a modest 1160 followers. Better than some, not nearly as good as others. Most of it is GamerGate related. But at least most of them are real follows.

I'll probably end up getting bored with Twitter, but for now I'm having fun with it.

Anonymous Jack Amok November 28, 2014 3:14 PM  

I remember my dad going through the CB radio craze. 10-4,good buddy, what's your 20? I guess every generation needs its fad. But ads never swamped the CB channels.

Anonymous Axe Head November 28, 2014 3:25 PM  

I started a blog, ran it for a while. I realized, "I don't have enough to say." So I shut it down. Don't everyone overwhelm me with thank yous and applause.

Anonymous jamsco November 28, 2014 4:46 PM  

I'm appreciating the Hitchhiker reference, Vox.

Blogger Cataline Sergius November 28, 2014 4:54 PM  

most people simply don't have all that much to say.


Blogger Cataline Sergius November 28, 2014 4:56 PM  

Yes by typing just lol, I was in fact just being facetious.

Anonymous Wyrd November 28, 2014 5:16 PM  


Members of the congressional chimp caucus doesn't want federal government to recognize Pamunkey tribe because the tribe only permits marriage between Indians or whites.

Anonymous K. W. Jeter November 28, 2014 6:00 PM

Last line's the best: "Not everything that can be labelled as 'Big Data' is automatically great."

Anonymous Herman the German November 28, 2014 6:06 PM  

Me neither, Tommy. Well said.

Blogger John Cunningham November 28, 2014 6:47 PM  

"most people simply don't have all that much to say."
I forget who said it exactly, but an acerbic female writer [Flannery O'Connor?] was once asked by a reporter whether the growth in graduate writing programs had reduced the production of actuals novels. She replied, "not nearly enough."

Anonymous Why can't we all just get along November 28, 2014 6:49 PM  

OT, Swedish girl gets the benefits diversity good and hard (IN SWEDISH)

Anonymous Idle Spectator, Economist Extraordinaire November 28, 2014 7:02 PM  


Blogger Markku November 28, 2014 7:25 PM  

Some people don't understand the itch that Twitter scratches. So, allow me to explain. This is no criticism of the original post, mind you, it is just for ignorant people who hold that "social media is bunk". (Points to anyone who gets the reference)

The point is this: The format forces you to express 160 character thoughts. So, now I have a minute or two in my hands. Perhaps my code is compiling in another window.

By looking at Twitter instead of any other possible page or service I might choose instead, I know I'll manage to see a couple of complete thoughts in that time. I will not get bogged down with a wall of text, that I will then abandon when my compile finishes.

Blogger Markku November 28, 2014 7:29 PM  

Some people will complain that not all thoughts can be expressed in 160 characters. To them I will say: You may not have noticed it, but there are currently a few other pages in the internet too, and not just Twitter. Twitter is for when I want Twitter kind of things. Other pages are for when I want to see other pages kind of things.

Blogger Markku November 28, 2014 7:32 PM  

Incredible brainfart. 140. But the point stands.

Blogger rycamor November 28, 2014 8:46 PM  

Twitter does indeed prove the point that artificial limitations can actually add value. How much value is the question. Not so sure it will count that much in terms of dollars and cents, but it definitely has its place in the world.

Nassim Taleb says twitter is how he gets around science journalists to address the public directly. He's got a point. He has made a few journalists dance like fools in his twitter convos, and the public gets to see it in realtime.

Blogger Markku November 28, 2014 9:09 PM  

'Course, Tweets can be really stupid too...

Blogger Jay November 28, 2014 9:43 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Anonymous Jack Amok November 29, 2014 12:34 AM  

I don't mind 140 character tweets. What I mind are a dozen such in a row. "Live Tweeting" ought to be a felony.

Blogger automatthew November 29, 2014 1:11 AM  

Markku, you explain why people write on Twitter, but not why people read it.

That's the part I can't understand. Seems like really low signal to noise ratio to me. Gets worse as time goes by. Looking at my twitter feed these days hurts me.

Blogger Markku November 29, 2014 1:18 AM  

I thought I explained, from my perspective, precisely why people read Twitter. And NOT why they write on it.

Blogger Simon Jester November 29, 2014 2:05 AM  

The internet is a wild west, which is great, but there are certain strange attractors to communication. Blogs aren't going away, but like Markku says, they serve a certain stream. There is legacy content ... bylines haven't gone away, they have just migrated. Tweets fill a certain part of the spectrum which seems to have a lot of value ... Taleb and most of the VRWC in America use it to bypass mainstream media successfully. If you have ever dealt with a service company and gotten bad service, venting on twitter has been known to score points when other channels fail.

And the great thing about the internet is that if I have something to say, I have a place to say it. It may prefer quantity over quality, but that is exactly what you want in an information age with a dispossessed electorate. It's not a bug ... it's a feature.

The next big threshold is trust boundaries, but that's another discussion.

Anonymous Shut up rabbit November 29, 2014 2:39 AM  

most people simply don't have all that much to say.

That's why they invented the Like button: all the sensation of being involved in something without the slightest effort (or actually being involved)

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