Category Archives: Twitter

GigaOm Book Review – Cybersexism: Sex Power and Gender on the Internet

GigaOm published my book review of Laurie Penny’s new book on the misogyny that is rampant online.

Daring in style — fluttering from explanatory journalism to lyrical reflection to pistol-cocked cultural critique — Penny sustains a provoking discussion that is rigorous and kinetic. She smartly observes that patriarchy, not the surveillance state, is the original panopticon. And she condemns those prejudiced naysayers who think all of this is innocuous: the ones who accuse feminists of harboring sanctimonious “butthurt”; of not “just dealing with it;” of being dumb women who continue to talk.

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The Power Of Black Twitter

When Juror B37 of the George Zimmerman trial gestured toward a book deal chronicling her and her husband’s life during jury service, a vocal segment of Twitter users erupted in protest. (Their argument being the writer would essentially profit from grave injustice and loss of life.) The publisher, feeling the pressure, nixed the book deal. Shani O. Hilton of BuzzFeed writes about the powerful influence of what she calls “Black Twitter,” –the thousands of highly active black twitter users who like to talk about race and current events and, as this episode indicates, are at the cutting edge of Web culture.

Last night Black Twitter killed a George Zimmerman trial juror’s book deal. But that’s not a surprise: The hive has become a swarm. It’s diffuse, powerful, and all around you.

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An Email to Check Your Facebook: Notification Insanity

John Herrman of BuzzFeed breaks down the notification nightmare that clogs our inboxes and reveals the desperate attention seeking by social media companies.

We Are Approaching Peak Notification:

But nagging users to come back to your site is a treatment, not a cure, and eventually it will stop working. This trend ends in two ways: Either every update on your service is sent to your users’ inboxes, at which point it’s hardly a service at all; or the sum of these notifications overwhelms your users’ inboxes, rendering them useless or leaving your messages unread.

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Twitter’s New Platform

Last year I posted about Twitter’s development from a sparse messaging service to a mixed media circus. John Herrman of BuzzFeed picks up on the company’s evolution (tweet attachments, video, product links) and notes the great shift Twitter has taken:

“The tweet, in other words, is Twitter’s new platform. The old platform was about getting people to use Twitter. The new one is about making money from them.”

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Hashtag Sympathy: Boston, Disaster Porn And The Law of Zuckerberg


In my essay for Cyborgology, I explore the use of social media to express sympathy. I critique the media phenomenon known as disaster porn and apply it to the the logic of social sharing on Facebook and Twitter.

…documented sharing incentivizes Facebook and Twitter users to traffic in disaster porn. This is the depiction of destruction or tragedy in ways that do not enlighten, but merely sensationalize, pervert, exploit. The ego-stroking affirmations of social networks—the likes and RTs—the ones that push us to share new music and comment on engagement photos, seem perverse when dealing with gory misfortune. From this unsavory perspective, many of the declarations whizzing around Boston look like sympathy but smell like attention-seeking.

…As with older forms of news media, this risks entering into a perverse agenda-setting of the moral. To accept an attention-grabbing rubric to determine cultural significance is to bolster the same kind of news norms that we recognize to be malevolent. These include a preoccupation with the global north, xenophobic privileging of moneyed American interests, highlighting pornographic disaster over chronic, pervasive crime, a disregard for victims who are not white, downplaying environmental degradation with no immediate, visible harm.

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App.Net Offers A New, Free Plan

“, the project that emerged from founder Dalton Caldwell’s desire to build a social platform that wasn’t driven by advertising, is adding its first free option today,” reports Anthony Ha of TechCrunch.

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The Way Men And Women Tweet


Katie Heaney of BuzzFeed summarizes the findings of a linguistics study that focused on the tweeting differences between the sexes.

“Overall, women users seem to possess the strongest ties to the greatest number of markers, which speaks to a distinct form of speech but also, I think, a (continuing) shift toward the conversational tone these devices reflect — something the female Twitter users studied here might well be at the helm of.”

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My Post on BuzzFeed: The 10 Outstanding Essays of 2012

A collection of this year’s best culture writing.

LeBron James’ Hairline, Manufacturing Rick Ross and Lana, Twitter subpoenas, Obama’s paradoxical blackness, an Asian hoops star, doxxing twitter trolls, a future beyond Facebook, our infatuation with busyness, breaking down Breaking Bad, and the revolutionary women of the Arab Spring.

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20 Tweeters Sued For Libel

During the broadcast of BBC’s Newsnight earlier this month, the network erroneously accused a “leading Tory politician” of child molestation. After users on social media amplified the false information and incorrectly identified the mystery man as Alistair McAlpine, the former Conservative Party treasurer is now seeking legal recourse.

The Economist offers some background and the Guardian reports on the 20 influential Twitter users who are being sued by Mr. McAlpine.

Interestingly, those who tweeted defamatory remarks about Mr. McAlpine but who have fewer than 500 followers were offered the option of making a charitable donation to avoid legal challenges.

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From Essential Characters To Mixed Media Madness: The Devolution Of Twitter

Matt Buchanan of Buzzfeed chronicles Twitter’s evolution from a microblog of 140 characters to embedded pictures, music, expanding news snippets, and a Facebookian social feed. While he has come to accept the new Twitter, and isn’t overly critical of the changes, he questions the company’s direction.

Where users and third party developers helped shape early key functions (hashtags, retweets, direct messages), Buchanan views the new Twitter as less open to outside engineers and more domineering towards the user experience.

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