I wasn’t actually intending to write a follow-up to my Useless product innovations #1 post (the opening line, “And now for a new regular feature…” was a reference to the running joke in Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge where a new regular feature is introduced every week and never seen again). However, I have to speak out against Twitter’s new ‘innovation’, which is that it algorithmically picks tweets from people you don’t follow, which it thinks you might be interested in, and plonks them in your timeline.
One of the events contributing to the current media and political fury over the evils of social networks and internet trolls has been the death of Hannah Smith, a Leicester teenager who committed suicide after apparently being bullied on Ask.fm.
However, it has subsequently turned out that 98% of the anonymous bullying messages Hannah received may have been posted by herself using other accounts.
If true, this backs up my point in a previous article that blaming these phenomena on the social networks themselves is dangerously missing the point.
On Sunday 4 August 2013, a number of Twitter users followed Times columnist Caitlin Moran‘s suggestion of a 24 hour boycott of the site, in response to
a recent spate of recent media attention on abusive and harassing tweets directed at high-profile female users. The boycott was promoted with the hashtags #TwitterSilence and #Trolliday (a pun on the common misuse of the term “troll” for online abusers).
Meanwhile, many other women and men didn’t take part in the boycott, confidently and eloquently pointing out that the way to stand up to bullying is to raise your voice louder, not to be silent.