Here’s How to Improve Twitter Without Deleting Likes and Retweets

There are many calls to get rid of Twitter likes and retweets in the name of “improving” user experience. It won’t help.

 

Depending on whom you talk to, Twitter users have differing views of the platform—both negative and positive.

 

Democrats and Republican users both agree that the platform sometimes resembles a dumpster fire. Our fellow conservatives will tell you they are persecuted on the platform more, and they aren’t wrong about many of its shady practices. Twitter rightfully rid the platform of some alt-right anti-Semites, but hasn’t applied this same deference and penalties to accounts in radical Islamist and Marxist circles who perpetrate the same bigoted rhetoric. Although there are some serious concerns for banning certain types of speech on Twitter, the company is private and can refer to its Terms and Conditions to restrict certain types of content. It’s understandable to remove accounts that violate rules for obvious reasons, like nutty Alex Jones, but labeling conservative speech as “offensive” in the vein of Jones is wrong-headed and dangerous. Twitter shouldn’t penalize one political persuasion and give another a pass, if they are found in violation of Twitter’s Terms and Conditions.

 

Also: Bruce Carroll, aka GayPatriot, shouldn’t have been banned either.

 

Some Democrats argue social media platforms are manipulated to favor and tilt elections towards Republicans, citing the 2016 elections. (Remember: Democrats led in digital efforts in 2008, but we are finally catching up to them.) Some have argued that Twitter shut down President Trump’s account, but even Twitter founder Jack Dorsey doesn’t believe that’s conducive. Some of Trump’s tweets are worthy of criticism, but banning the President of the United States simply because you disagree with his policies is stupid, at best. (Strangely enough, former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s tweets are embraced, despite his lengthy track record of anti-Semitism and restricting social media during his reign.) Whether you like it or not, Trump is perhaps the most social media transparent president we’ve ever had, and consequently, Twitter has been given new life as a result of him tweeting. Nevertheless, we all agree that President Trump could tweet more judiciously.

 

Twitter has been debating ways to improve user experience. While other platforms like Facebook (up until recently) and Instagram have seen steady increases in users, Twitter has lagged behind. Recently, though, they’ve had some indicators of growth. Some argue ridding Twitter of “likes” and removing retweets will foster better discussions. I couldn’t disagree more with these recommendations.

 

Here’s what ridding “likes” would entail, because a like would trigger social media addiction? More below:

 

Founder Jack Dorsey last week admitted at a Twitter event that he was not a fan of the heart-shaped button and that it would be getting rid of it “soon”.

 

The feature was introduced in 2015 to replace “favourites”, a star-shaped button that allowed people to bookmark tweets to read later.

 

Similar buttons to “like” or show appreciation of people’s status updates, pictures and videos have become a central function of every popular social media service since Facebook introduced them.

 

But psychologists have suggested that they may be causing social media addiction…

Back in March, Twitter enabled “Bookmarks” – which privately save tweets for your liking. It’s helpful to me when I search for articles to incorporate in articles and my weekly newsletter.

 

 

With respect to the case for eliminating retweets, here’s one author’s reasoning in doing so:

 

Back in March, Twitter enabled “Bookmarks” – which privately save tweets for your liking. It’s helpful to me when I search for articles to incorporate in articles and my weekly newsletter.

 

With respect to the case for eliminating retweets, here’s one author’s reasoning in doing so:

 

The quest to accrue retweets regularly drives users to tweet outlandish comments, extremist opinions, fake news, or worse. Many users knowingly tweet false and damaging information and opinions in an effort to go viral via retweets. Entire Twitter accounts have been built on this strategy. If Twitter really wants to control the out-of-control rewards mechanisms it has created, the retweet button should be the first to go.

 

Retweets prey on users’ worst instincts. They delude Twitter users into thinking that they’re contributing to thoughtful discourse by endlessly amplifying other people’s points—the digital equivalent of shouting “Yeah, what they said!” in the midst of an argument. And because Twitter doesn’t allow for editing tweets, information that goes viral via retweets is also more likely to be false or exaggerated. According to MIT research published in the journal Science, Twitter users retweet fake news almost twice as much as real news. Some Twitter users, desperate for validation, endlessly retweet their own tweets, spamming followers with duplicate information.

 

If that is the case, what will Twitter become? An obtuse, boring message thread? Twitter came to be Twitter because of tweets, retweets, and other unique features. Who would this benefit—Democrats upset that conservatives and Republicans are using Twitter perhaps more effectively than they are? Yes, the click bait and punchy tweets from activists on both sides can be a bit much. Both sides tweet obscenities and vile threats—although Democrat-leaning accounts get away with it and are never ostracized like their Republican or conservative counterparts are.

 

How many times have certain mainstream outlets tweeted false news stories, with their retractions getting fewer retweets and likes than the factually incorrect ones?

 

Want to improve your user experience on Twitter? Here’s what I recommend instead of removing likes and retweets:

Tweet with a purpose and foster civil discourse

 

Eliminating likes and retweets will undermine Twitter’s very existence. It’ll become obsolete and worthless. Instead, Twitter should encourage — not mandate — us Twitter users to lead the charge of improving discourse on the platform. Why not start with tweeting with a purpose?

 

I recently had a Twitter conversation with a gentleman about managed bear hunts. He was genuinely curious about the implications of a federal judge in Montana’s ruling about grizzly bears. I explained to him, politely, of course, that a select population of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem aren’t endangered and that wildlife biologists want hunters to help cull this herd for the betterment of the species and ungulate species. He told me he was grateful for the information and said he’ll keep an open mind. These conversations are enjoyable and productive.

 

Alternatively, I don’t respond to tweets that resort to name-calling or gross mischaracterizations. There’s a mute button for that now. Phew!

 

When I first started out on Twitter in January 2010, I’ll admit: I tweeted some rather punchy tweets about every pressing issue of the day and responded to a lot of mean tweets. I used to encourage my followers to retweet (RT) some tweets if they were in agreement. I wanted to grow my following among conservatives and replicated the tactics of the day. As I matured over the years, I learned that this tactic accomplishes little. It may bring some quick followers short-term, but doesn’t make your account unique if everyone is doing it. Now I tweet more purposely, don’t feel compelled to respond to every issue that’s trending in the news, and guess what? I think my user experience is FAR more positive than when I first started out on the platform.

 

For those of us who are conservative, be selective with what you tweet. Be strategic in your Twitter posting strategy: Don’t always feel compelled to tweet about EVERY issue.

Post fewer click bait tweets, more informative content

 

I’ve grown to dislike clickbait tweets. It’s a cheap tactic to grow follower counts and get “ratio’d” in the hopes of going viral. This tactic allows users to manipulate and conflate their influence. A lot of conservatives, sadly, engage in this cheap tactic too—though Democrats aren’t angels in this regard, either.

 

Is there a news story that is facts-based that’s deserving of attention? Tweet an excerpt and an accompanying link for your followers to click on. Did a good guy or gal with a gun deter a bad guy or gal with a gun? Post those good news stories. Did your elected officials vote for bills or policies that are antithetical to freedom? Retweet or tweet content that’s constructive and action-oriented without name-calling and threatening people.

 

Post a call-to-action (CTA) and get people inspired to participate in voting, reading, or the exchange of ideas. You never know whom you can influence for the better!

Post positive tweets and retweet more feel-good stories

 

Want to improve your user experience on Twitter? Start with some self-assessment as to what kind of content you’re posting. Is the tone of your tweets always negative? Add some positive content into your Timeline.

 

Retweet feel-good stories. Post about a restaurant you visited and the good experience you had there. Brag about that fish you caught—make sure it’s legally caught and kept or handled, of course. Post about someone interesting you met—especially if you had a civil political discussion.

 

It starts with us – Twitter users – to promote positive content. Amidst the crummy things happening in society, there’s still a lot of good in this country. Contrast the bad with the good—which exists more readily out there than one would believe!

 

We have free will and can dictate what we do. Exercise that more often in your tweeting habits and you’ll feel better about your Twitter experience. Trust me!

What are your thoughts on some of these recommendations to “improve” Twitter? Would you want to see the ‘like’ and ‘retweet’ features done away with? Should they stay? Weight in and let me know!

Watch it Now: Ben Shapiro’s Dangerous Speech at UC-Berkeley

I brought you the story of the University of California, Berkeley meltdown, earlier.

Campus thugs, so unstable that they need counseling to handle the notion of a conservative speaker like Ben Shapiro being in their midst, yet, so thuggish and uncivilized that they’d burn down the campus, or rail against free speech as a danger to their fragile state of being, at just the thought of diverse opinion.

If these people had been around centuries ago, we’d have never discovered the wheel and we’d still be talking about a flat earth.

The group sponsoring Shapiro’s appearance, Young America’s Foundation, will be live streaming the speech, and guess what?

I have it for you, here.

Tune in, if you’re not emotionally triggered by common sense.

Ahead of Ben Shapiro Speech, Protesters at UC-Berkeley Lash Out Against Free Speech

Ben Shapiro is giving a speech tonight on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley – oddly enough, considered to be the birthing ground of the free speech movement of the 60s.

My, what a difference a few generations makes.

Recent history has shown that UC-Berkeley has come full circle, and rather than embrace their history of free thought and open expression, they’ve become a den of fascist oppressors, lashing out at any hint of opinion that varies from their own.

In fact, diversity of thought is so desperately reviled among the rats in the nest known as Berkeley, that violence and destruction have become their preferred method of resisting what they fear.

Yeah, guys. You’re not the “tolerant” ones.

Conservative speakers have routinely seen their events shut down, or even blocked, simply because of the violence the anti-free speech forces that infest the campus bring.

Ahead of Shapiro’s appearance, the preparations have reached absurd heights.

Six buildings are being shut down. Concrete barriers, along with police officers are forming a perimeter around the building that will host the event.

Most ridiculous of all is the counseling that is being offered to the frothing rage beasts that feel “threatened” by the thought of a conservative voice on campus.

Such gentle souls are those who would burn down the world, rather than risk having someone in the near vicinity that might differ from their worldview, that they took out their chalk and posted their outrage in maniacal scribblings around the campus.

From the Washington Examiner:

According to Amy Lutz, program officer at Young America’s Foundation, which is the national organization sponsoring and organizing Shapiro’s campus lecture, chalk-wielding anti-Shapiro activists left some choice messages about the event on a campus walkway. Images posted to Twitter by Lutz on Thursday show the chalkings included such thoughtful messages as “‘Free Speech’ Kills,” “F**k The Police,” and “F**k Ben Shapiro.”

Oddly enough, Ben Shapiro has never advocated violence, nor threatened the lives of anyone, that I’m aware of.

He’s never led a group of black-clad marauders to break windows, burn cars, or attack counter-protesters.

So why is his appearance causing such an uproar?

I can only say this: The pepper spray, concrete barriers, and increased security on campus is not because of Ben Shapiro or the YAF.

All that is for the crowd that needs counseling for their fear of free speech.

Anti-hate, or anti-opposition? The Sad Tale of Venezuela.

What to do when you’re a public official and get tired of your opposition heckling and deriding you?  You pass a law which will censor that speech under the pretext of combatting “hate.”

This is what the government of Venezuela is attempting to do.  By way of context, Venezuela is a sad example of a failed socialist state.   The current crisis stems from former president Hugo Chavez.  In 1999, Chavez – upon taking power – convened a constitutional convention which produced a new constitution for Venezuela, giving him more power and the ability to pursue what he called the “Bolivarian Revolution” as he sought to transform the Venezuelan state along socialist lines.   After his death in 2013 he was succeeded by Nicolas Maduro, who is attempting to hold onto power and continue the “Revolution,” despite intense opposition by the people of Venezuela.

Prior to Chavez, Venezuela had a fairly strong economy and high standard of living.  However, its over-reliance on oil exports, combined with the disastrous socialist policies of the “Bolivarian Revolution” has led to a collapse of its economic, social, and political systems.  The inflation rate is currently over 700%, 80% of the population is below the poverty line, the unemployment rate is 25%, the economy is contracting at a rate of over 10%, and there is extreme crime and violence.

This explains why the people of Venezuela have turned against the “Revolution.”  Despite this, Maduro and his chavistas (the term used for supporters of the socialist policies of Chavez) are desperately seeking to remain in power.  The legislative National Assembly is held largely by opponents of the chavistas.  Therefore, Maduro called his own constitutional convention to form a new constitution for the country; this convention, the constituyente, is filled completely with chavistas.

It is this constituyente which is proposing an “anti-hate” law to prohibit and police speech with which the chavistas disagree, particularly on social media.  Indeed, given the way that the chavistas have mis-handled the country, protesters have been very vocal in their opposition, calling for Maduro to resign.  The “anti-hate” law is an attempt to suppress these protests and provide legal justification for arresting those who speak out against the government’s policies.

In typical Orwellian fashion, the government of Venezuela is framing the discussion in terms of combatting hate and violence.  Delcy Rodriguez, the president of Maduro’s constituyente constitutional convention, said:

It starts by banging pots and pans around chavistas in a restaurant.  And it finishes by burning chavistas alive.

She also said:

We’re going to regulate and control because, in recent years, Venezuela has been victim of laboratories of [psychological] war that, through messages and social media, promote a fratricidal war between Venezuelans.  We’re not going to allow what happened in Rwanda [to] repeat itself in Venezuela.

Thus, the government’s justification for “regulating and controlling” speech in Venezuela is to remove the opposition to its own failed policies and to ensure that a small, privileged portion of the populace remain in power, namely Maduro and his chavista supporters.

In the United States, Hollywood tends to be very vocal with its political beliefs.  But, where is Hollywood’s opposition to this tyranny?  Where are the tears of outrage from those who say they believe in free speech?  Where are those who once praised Chavez and Maduro?

 

Tech’s Obligation to Free Speech Versus Combatting Hate




Every major Internet registrar, including the Russians, has so far rejected neo-Nazi hate spewing Daily Stormer’s search for a home on the World Wide Web. Soon, it will probably be relegated to the fetid hollows of the Dark Web, a place where 4chan hackers and criminals lurk.

Daily Stormer’s defenestration began when hosting provider GoDaddy gave them 24 hours to seek another platform. After that, Google booted them, followed by content distribution network CloudFlare, whose approach was, I found, particularly thoughtful and balanced.

See, it’s easy to grab the torches and pitchforks to go after bona fide Nazis. It’s a little harder, but not much, to shut down an internal, anonymous group because someone is offended that people there support Donald Trump. Inside a company’s own infrastructure, with its own employees and contractors, censorship and groupthink are perfectly legal and widely practiced. Just ask Google.



But as a public provider of data service, things get a little more complex.

That’s why CloudFlare CEO Matthew Prince penned a very well-documented blog post detailing “why we terminated Daily Stormer.” It’s really a must read for anyone who needs a primer on why the Internet is such a complex place.

In the end, legally, as a company (not the government), CloudFlare can do as it wishes. In an email to employees, Prince said as much:

This was my decision. Our terms of service reserve the right for us to terminate users of our network at our sole discretion. My rationale for making this decision was simple: the people behind the Daily Stormer are assholes and I’d had enough.

“This was an arbitrary decision,” he added.

I woke up this morning in a bad mood and decided to kick them off the Internet. I called our legal team and told them what we were going to do. I called our Trust & Safety team and had them stop the service. It was a decision I could make because I’m the CEO of a major Internet infrastructure company.

Then, in his blog post, Prince explained “why it’s so dangerous.” Read his whole post to get the background, but it’s summed up with these words:

Without a clear framework as a guide for content regulation, a small number of companies will largely determine what can and cannot be online.

Back in the 1990s, I used to run an ISP. Those were the days of dialup and AOL CDs in the mail. We were pioneers in the wireless Internet space, in providing DSL, and even managed a city-owned cable Internet operation. One of the more popular services we offered was known as Usenet. It still (I believe) exists today, but back then, it was kind of like Reddit mixed with every porn site, 4chan, and chat room.

We had a really good Usenet service, utilizing high bandwidth fiber optic and hi-band satellite connections. Yes, it still took 5 minutes to download one short video on a modem, but people were more patient then.

When I became a Christian in 2000, one of my first acts was to terminate some of our “alt.binary” Usenet forums. I did this because they were primarily filled with pornography and I didn’t want to serve or store that content on our equipment. It was my company, I was the CEO, and I made the decision.

You should have heard the blowback and the venom, cries of “censorship!” echoing through the offices. I told my staff that anyone who complained could be forwarded to me and I would personally speak to them. I was shocked at who some of the loudest complainers were (especially the ones who avoided telling me what specific content I’d blocked them from seeing).





I always explained: is it censorship when Kroger refuses to sell “Hustler” magazine in its stores? No…but that’s different, they’d answer. How is it different? Then they’d change the subject, and the petulant ones would ask to have their accounts canceled. Fine by me: I didn’t want to be a pornography distributor.

In the same vein, CloudFlare didn’t want to be a Nazi propaganda distributor. And neither (so far) did anyone else.

But where does the line get drawn? Where’ the line between “I”m the CEO and this is repugnant to me” and “I’m under political pressure to wash my hands of this”?

Here’s what Prince wrote:

We’re going to have a long debate internally about whether we need to remove the bullet about not terminating a customer due to political pressure. It’s powerful to be able to say you’ve never done something. And, after today, make no mistake, it will be a little bit harder for us to argue against a government somewhere pressuring us into taking down a site they don’t like.

The United States government has no right to pressure anyone to remove a site it doesn’t like. That’s what the First Amendment protects us from. But other governments, like China, don’t have those rights. Google and now Apple have both yielded to the Chinese in removing parts of their offerings that are offensive to the Communist government. (Don’t get me started on Hollywood‘s obsequious bowing to the Chinese.)

CloudFlare has the right approach to this thorny topic. They have a corporate culture where free speech is inculcated into the team, versus one where groupthink and crowd-pleasing is the norm.

Someone on our team asked after I announced we were going to terminate the Daily Stormer: “Is this the day the Internet dies?” He was half joking, but only half. He’s no fan of the Daily Stormer or sites like it. But he does realize the risks of a company like Cloudflare getting into content policing.

I think we already know where Google, Twitter and other companies stand on this issue. Purging content because the private company owners don’t like it is bad enough (the main stream media does it for a living), but denying a voice on the basis of political pressure, “going along to get along,” will be the day the Internet really does die.

Berkeley Bans Ben: Shapiro Too Cool for School

Taking a page from Evelyn Beatrice Hall, the University of California at Berkeley may not agree with what Ben Shapiro says, but they’ll defend to the death his right to say it.  They just can’t be bothered to find him a venue.  From the Washington Examiner:

In a statement sent to the Washington Examiner on Wednesday evening, Young America’s Foundation announced that administrators informed the Berkeley College Republicans in an email this week they were “unable to identify an available campus venue” to host the lecture, which was slated for Sept. 14. The administrators, identified by YAF as Dean of Students Joseph Greenwell and Student Organization Coordinator Millicent Morris Chaney, claimed the lecture was spiked “despite extensive efforts.”

Not to worry, though.  They’re still totes on board with the First Amendment.  Sort of.

“Ben Shapiro is welcome on our campus, and we are committed to supporting his, and your, rights to free speech,” the administrators contended in their message to students.

Mmm-hmm.  As long as nobody knows he’s coming, and he uses the steam tunnels underneath the physical plant between the hours of 1-3 a.m.  Oh, and be sure to slip out the back door quietly when you’re finished.  Thanks, Ben, you’re a doll.

The YAF, for their part, weren’t buying it:

“Berkeley’s inability to find a lecture hall more than two months in advance is laughable,” the Foundation declared in its statement, noting the university’s insistence that it can only host Shapiro “when events are held at a time and location that allow for the provision of any required security measures.”

Kind of like what they did to Ann Coulter a few months ago.  It seems that Berkeley has found the perfect excuse for weaseling out of defending free speech:  We’d love to help you out, man, but we just can’t guarantee security.  Of course, that might have something to do with university administrators refusing to bust the hooligans who run amok if a conservative so much as thinks about going to Berkeley–but we can’t have our students’ precious feelz invalidated by hearing a contrary opinion, can we?  We’re raising the next generation of leaders, don’tcha know.

What really amazes me is that this is Ben Shapiro we’re talking about here, not some alt-right troll who spews controversial venom just to make people mad.  His views are very much in the line of mainstream conservative thought–and even though he’s known for tweaking his detractors, he’s never resorted to personal attacks or rabble rousing.  In short, he’s a principled conservative who is willing to engage in civilized debate of the issues.  If that sort of thing is too radioactive for Berkeley, free speech there is all but dead.

And I’d really appreciate it if they stopped insulting our intelligence by pretending otherwise.

UPDATE!

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education reports that Berkeley has decided to cowboy up and host Shapiro after all:

The University of California, Berkeley has confirmed to FIRE it will host an on-campus event sponsored by the Berkeley College Republicans featuring conservative commentator Ben Shapiro on September 14 at 7 p.m. — even if the university has to foot the bill.

“It’s clear that we have a number of workable options,” said Dan Mogulof, Berkeley’s assistant vice chancellor for public affairs. “This event is going to happen. We just need to sit down with the College Republicans to talk through the details.”

Like the old saying goes, the devil is in those “details”–so it remains to be seen if they’ll actually go through with it once the SJWs get wind of the news.

Here’s the One Reason Why Ted Cruz is Your Hero

Senator Ted Cruz has carved out a reputation as someone who is willing to say unpopular things. And maybe that’s why he has become such an important and articulate figure in the battle to preserve free speech in America.

The First Amendment was enacted as a protection not of the speech the majority likes and agrees with – it doesn’t need to be protected. It’s there as a safeguard against those who would usurp the power of government and use it as a weapon to silence the thoughts and ideas of people whose ideas are regarded popularly as bad, inappropriate, repulsive, or ignorant.

Free speech isn’t irresponsible. It merely demands that a society that has it be responsible to confront bad ideas not with brute force but with better ideas. If you have a politically correct, speech silencer in your family – or a friend who is convinced Ted Cruz is a nutjob, make them watch this short video. They both might be surprised.

Cruz on Free Speech: Unleash the Power of Truth

Texas Senator Ted Cruz taught Supreme Court litigation as an adjunct professor at the University of Texas for five years. Though his time is very limited these days, if Cruz ever has the chance he should get back in the classroom.

Earlier this week, Cruz delivered a primer on free speech during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “Free Speech 101: The Assault on the First Amendment on College Campuses”.

“The First Amendment is not about opinions you agree with,” Cruz stated. “It’s not about opinions that are right and reasonable. The First Amendment is about opinions that you passionately disagree with and the right of others to express them.”

Cruz goes on to indict groups like the KKK, while pointing out that the First Amendment both allows such groups to speak their hateful rhetoric and requires that the rational among us confront that speech with truth and not the violence which has become the favorite tactic of radical leftists.

“We have an obligation then to confront those views which are weak, poisonous, and wrong, and to confront them with truth. We don’t need to use brute force to silence them because truth is far more powerful than force.”

It is a powerful statement that concludes a stirring defense of free speech, and one which every American should watch in full.

But Cruz is far more than an observer when it comes to free speech. As Resurgent contributor Peter Heck points out in his latest video profile, “Cruz’ knack for rubbing people the wrong way with his ideas is exactly what’s made him one of the most important and articulate figures in the battle for the preservation of free speech in The United States.”

In other words, Ted Cruz not only preaches the truth of free speech – he practices it.

It is with Constitutional issues such as this one where Cruz is at his best, and every time he speaks on them he silences and even converts more of his critics.

Peter Heck’s video:

https://www.facebook.com/theresurgent/videos/1371034482974696/

The video and transcript of Cruz’ full opening statement may be found here.

The full video of the entire Senate hearing may be found here.