Why Lindy West quit Twitter

There are things that are legitimately worthy of censorship (promoting violence for example), and some people have had their Twitter accounts suspended for simple hate speech, but I think the issue is that lots of users do in fact treat Twitter like a weapon (I’m not sure how else to describe asking your followers to harass another user).

I have a problem with the general setup of Twitter, this kind of open-access instant messenger idea is like if you could instantly crank call any famous person. If enough people did it their phone would be useless, and for Lindy West that’s part of why Twitter has lost it’s appeal, whatever benefit she got from it is now outweighed by the hassle.

I think everyone should get off Twitter. Seriously. Leave it to the trolls and bots.

1 Like

Thank you for that insightful thought. Clearly nothing like that had ever occurred to me. Oh:

Do the Nazis ignore me because of my face?

Anyway, only about half of your list is apparent from my online profile. Are you suggesting that if I had a different face, but the same sort of online activity profile, then I would be getting harassed?

I find it hard to believe that my nonwhite and/or female friends bring out the nazi rape threats with their tweets about mongodb/fax machines/python/AWS/docker. I could be wrong. I’ll ask them. In person.

Anyway, my point is, it looks to me like the problems are topics/people and not venue/platform.

I could certainly be wrong. Maybe twitter is worse than reddit/facebook/instagram/whatever. They’re all nazi-free in my experience, so I wouldn’t really know. Real life? Very much not nazi free. :frowning:

1 Like

Nope, sorry, I’m just saying that a white, hetero guy talking about tech is the safest possible combination on the internet for preventing attracting hate. But there is a presumption of heterosexuality unless one explicitly outs oneself. (Just as hiding ethnicity, gender, etc. can cause presumptions of white maleness online.)

Yeah, I was trying to get at that. Being a (not-white, not-hetero, not-man) talking about tech? That’ll get you targeted. A lot of A/B testing has been done that proves that beyond debate. Talking about issues related/sympathetic to being not-white, not-hetero, not-male is a hate-multiplier.

8 Likes

Well, if you’re asking for advice, I first suggest not using your password for your username.

11 Likes

It’s entirely possible, yes. [quote=“n1h80k4TStjgpQ, post:46, topic:92274”]
I could be wrong. I’ll ask them. In person.
[/quote]

I do think that’s a good idea. And maybe don’t challenge whatever they say, but just listen and try to understand? I’ve had this happen to me, when I express my own experiences, I get dismissed as either just flat making it up or it gets rationalized. I suspect that other people have the same experiences, too. I will say that when I (or other women or POC or LBGQT people, etc and so on) speak about this stuff, and are summarily dismissed because someone else has not experienced it, it’s rather hurtful and it certainly doesn’t make me want to talk about it more.

And I have no idea what your orientation is, just what you said here about being a white dude. [quote=“n1h80k4TStjgpQ, post:46, topic:92274”]
Maybe twitter is worse than reddit/facebook/instagram/whatever.
[/quote]

I’m not on twitter, so I can’t say - it’s likely based on what you do on those and other platforms and who you regularly interact with. But I certainly believe Lindy West, because she’s been talking about this stuff for a while now (as have other women) and her stories back when she wrote at Jezebel often had quite a bit of bile in the comments. For a while, some assholes were regularly posting porn gifs (in all the stories, not just hers).

Given that IRL many of us are often dismissed, in public, in the course of doing our jobs, I am predisposed to believe what they say. Because it rings true because of what I’ve at times experienced.

16 Likes

I first suggest not using your password for your username.

Well, since you mentioned it

2 Likes

But I’m a white male engineer! It’s reverse-whatever!

7 Likes

If you had a user icon of a black woman (I suspect you don’t but I don’t know who you are), yes, you would be getting harassed more.

7 Likes

As she noted in the article - these are all activities she gets paid to do in the real world. It’s not that she’s expecting compensation for posting tweets, but like many of us whose work/lives significantly overlap, you sort of lose enthusiasm for doing things in your off-hours that you do during work time.

4 Likes

…which is free to the user, plenty of which use Twitter to profit themselves, via marketing, exposure, content creation and filtering etc.

Seems like if people want a Twitter that isn’t ruined by people, they need to start one that is behind a paywall, or with nobody on it.

Linda seems shocked at the not so recent turn of events, where even people who create things of lasting value have found they need to give up some of it to attract others to buy it.

Makers of music, art, podcasts, and even physical things have adjusted. But yeah. She doesn’t make those things.

1 Like

I will ask. And listen. I won’t be reporting back though. There are some meetups coming up (nerds IRL! Wow!) where it’d be appropriate, but the latency will be such that it won’t further this discussion much.

If my friends on twitter are being targeted in the way we’re discussing, it’s possible I’m unaware of it because of how the platform works. They might be seeing stuff that I’m not seeing.

Reddit, on the other hand, is a place where it seems like I’d see it because the discussions are threaded and mostly persistent, like here. I do happen to know the gender/ethnicity of some of the people I interact with there, and I haven’t ever seen swastikas or porn gifs adorning any threads about mysql tuning / call routing / network convergence / etc… Just professional people interacting professionally.

Having said that… I am loath to admit to ‘being a redditor’ because of that platform’s reputation, while almost nobody is ashamed to be on facebook. So, it’s a weird situation: I use the shameful platform that provides me value in an asshole-free way. And I don’t use the normal, widely accepted platform (facebook) for practical reasons: I just have no use for it.

Thanks for your thoughts.

I said that I’m a white man and that my twitter (…um… avatar?) is a picture of my face.

you would be getting harassed more.

I’m not arguing with you because I have no firsthand experience. It’s just very difficult for me to wrap my head around the idea of a random woman in IT tweeting about database performance tuning and getting rape threats in reply.

It’s just so stupid!

Then you aren’t a woman in IT. I could let my wife, who works at the same tech company I do, reply, or many many of her female friends. Being female and online is often an inherent target of harassment for certain classes of (strangely white, male, and heterosexual) users.

9 Likes

As some guy a little while could have said “The Nazis you will always have with you.” We’re never going to mute all of them, but, as you say, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to lessen their influence and thence their numbers*.


* Normalization of Nazi/hate messages leads to more children being taught the lesson.

9 Likes

I’d say that it’s a combination of platform, topic, and personality. The average person can use Twitter to communicate among friends, a low-level ‘celebrity’ like small-venue musician can use it without many problems. But big celebrities and politicians will find their twitter feed clogged with garbage, and anyone who achieves any sort of internet fame (see: “gamergate”) will suddenly find they are targeted by what sure looks like an organized swarm of haters, particularly if politics are involved.

3 Likes

I wouldn’t apologize for their attempt at trolling. It’s a pretty common, insincere meme.

It’s very easy to imagine, if you talk to women.

Not just about online behavior.

Writers and journalists write and (sometimes) perform acts of journalism.

Twitter is essential to those professions.

12 Likes

And here we are in society, worldwide.

2 Likes

welcome to the lived experience of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of women online.

unfortunately the stupidity of a thing has rarely kept stupid things from existing.

13 Likes

I’m sorry, I don’t use Twitter… doesn’t that exist? No mass-mute? No whitelist/blacklist stuff?

Seriously?

I take it all back, the management of Twitter is composed of imbeciles.

3 Likes

You can block individual accounts, one by one.

5 Likes