Twitter is thinking about killing the Like button — but don’t hold your breath

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The source was a Twitter event last week, where CEO Jack Dorsey reportedly said he “wasn’t a fan of the heart-shaped button” and “would be getting rid of it soon.” As the Telegraph piece traveled, that quote was taken as an immediate threat that the Like button’s days could be numbered.

Users responded to the report angrily, noting that the Like button allowed them to support others and offer solidarity. Some expressed fears that without the button, retweets and argument would be the only means of communication.

But the threat may not be quite as imminent as it seemed.

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Welcome to Voldemorting, the Ultimate SEO Dis

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I’m so tired of all the bad news on birdsite.”

“Yeah, there’s just too much about The Cheeto.”

Cheeto and birdsite might not be common vocabulary, but the phrases are strangely interpretable. It’s easy to jump from Cheeto to Donald Trump or from birdsite to Twitter. Even more understandable is the attitude that comes along for the ride: Somehow it’s clear that someone who uses ornate synonyms isn’t happy about either entity.

…what does it mean for communication in the internet age that we’re increasingly drawn to elaborate synonyms?

A recent paper by researcher Emily van der Nagel puts a name to this phenomenon of hiding a word in plain sight. She calls it Voldemorting. Van der Nagel traces Voldemorting back to the Harry Potter books, where most characters are too afraid of Voldemort to say the word directly, instead replacing his name with euphemisms like You Know Who and He Who Must Not Be Named. This practice starts as a superstition, but by the final book there’s a deeper purpose: The word Voldemort is revealed as a way of locating the resistance: “Using his name breaks protective enchantments, it causes some kind of magical disturbance.”

Why Twitter’s #HimToo Mother-and-Son Saga Was a Satisfying Social Media Moment

Screenshots of the original tweets side by side.

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It was a social media saga that took the form of a three-act play: First a mother’s politicized Twitter post about her son, featuring a picture of him posed ridiculously and her complaints about his lack of dating life due to “the current climate of false sexual accusations,” went viral. Soon it inspired a wave of parodies: people posting about their “sons’ ” problems in the “current climate.” (Marty McFly can’t go on dates because his mother made a pass at him at prom!) Then the actual son at the center of it all spoke up to clarify that he had no idea what his mom was talking about.

Sweden to End Twitter Experiment Letting Ordinary People Be Nation’s Voice

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Since 2011, control of the Twitter account @sweden has been handed to a different person each week, allowing the curators to tweet about almost anything they please. At the end of September, after 356 curators and more than 200,000 tweets, the experiment will end.

She said @sweden is being shut down because its creators wanted to broaden their scope. Most of the account’s followers come from Sweden, Britain and the United States.

“The geographical reach is too limited,” she said. “Now we want to find the new thing, that will reach more people.”

Unfollowing Everybody

 

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It’s been about a week and a half, and, well… Twitter is a lot more pleasant. I’ve chosen a handful of accounts to follow each day (most ones that I followed before, some entirely new to me) and it’s made a big difference. On the flip side, about 100 people seem to have unfollowed me after I unfollowed everybody, and I hope they hadn’t felt obligated just to reciprocate if I was following them before. (That might also just be how many people unfollow me in a given week, I dunno.)

One of the most immediate benefits is that, when something terrible happens in the news, I don’t see an endless, repetitive stream of dozens of people reacting to it in succession. It turns out, I don’t mind knowing about current events, but it hurts to see lots of people I care about going through anguish or pain when bad news happens. I want to optimize for being aware, but not emotionally overwhelmed.

To that point, I’ve also basically not refollowed any news accounts or “official” corporate accounts. Anything I need to know about major headlines gets surfaced through other channels, or even just other parts of Twitter, so I don’t need to see social media updates from media companies whose entire economic model is predicated on causing me enough stress to click through to their sites.

Similarly, I’ve focused a lot more on artists and activists and people who write about the stuff I’m obsessed with in general — Prince or mangoes or urban transit or the like. That brings a lot more joy into my life, and people writing about these other topics offer alot more inspiration for the things I want to be focused on. Oddly, given that my job is being the CEO of a tech company, I follow far fewer people in tech, and almost no tech company accounts except for my own. Despite that, I’ve missed almost nothing significant in the industry since making this change.

 

Maggie Haberman: Why I Needed to Pull Back From Twitter

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Twitter has stopped being a place where I could learn things I didn’t know, glean information that was free from errors about a breaking news story or engage in a discussion and be reasonably confident that people’s criticisms were in good faith.

The viciousness, toxic partisan anger, intellectual dishonesty, motive-questioning and sexism are at all-time highs, with no end in sight. It is a place where people who are understandably upset about any number of things go to feed their anger, where the underbelly of free speech is at its most bilious.

Twitter is now an anger video game for many users. It is the only platform on which people feel free to say things they’d never say to someone’s face. For me, it had become an enormous and pointless drain on my time and mental energy.

How One Tweet About Nicki Minaj Spiraled Into Internet Chaos

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In the week since publicizing the acidic messages she received directly from Ms. Minaj, whose next album, “Queen,” is scheduled for release in August, Ms. Thompson said she has received thousands of vicious, derogatory missives across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, email and even her personal cellphone, calling her every variation of stupid and ugly, or worse. Some of the anonymous horde included pictures Ms. Thompson once posted on Instagram of her 4-year-old daughter, while others told her to kill herself. Ms. Thompson also lost her internship at an entertainment blog in the chaotic days that followed, and she is now considering seeing a therapist.

Such are the risks of the new media playing field, which may look level from afar, but still tilts toward the powerful. As social media has knocked down barriers between stars and their faithful (or their critics), direct communication among the uber-famous and practically anonymous has become the norm. But while mutual praise can cause both sides to feel warm and tingly, more charged interactions can leave those who have earned a star’s ire, like Ms. Thompson, reeling as eager followers take up the celebrity’s cause.