First a question to Mr. Kalanick- Sir, how is your twitter campaign ROI looks like after cleaning up #deleteuber mess?
Today I heard my barber from Middle east in Queens muttering with his friends in a non-happy tone about UBER, so guess it’s not that UBER for now.
And then I saw your sponsored campaign on twitter, and wondered- wow can anyone break this? Mr. Kalanick broke the whole idea of ivory tower technology, but still fell for this hokus-pokus.
For folks, not from digital marketing world or don’t know about twitter – Twitter is a digital marketing platform like Google, Facebook, etc where marketers can sell their stuff.
Why will some savvy marketer go to Twitter to sell his stuff?
You remember the last open house you went to and found some finger food, cheese may be a beverage to set customer’s mood?
Or if you are from India – A Political party’s rally where people go for free food and then also clap for their politicians. Some of the politicians entertain too, so at times it’s a bingo.
Same thing here- the lure
Twitter sets the lure “for” the marketers. It gives some free digital services to the common Joe on street. Common Joe from the street throngs for the free digital goodies and then salesmen can prey on them - Easy Peasy.
Great for the marketers, and now marketers turned politicians. No food packets, free samples, and after-party cleanups. It has “connected people” everywhere like a lion going into the herd of baby gazelles. At least that’s what they say in the brochure.
But sitting in 2017 why I’m wondering, dude (imagine Hurley saying this) why this thing called Twitter is still alive?
My contention with the whole idea of Twitter was the lure.
See I’m a big fan of long-form writing, If I can’t write two pages off anything, I don’t believe it’s ready to be published. Writing at least two pages on a subject gives clarity of thought, and the hard work makes sure you remain true to yourself and the idea is fully formed, evidence-based.
Way back in history when humans were evolving, there used to be impulses, you know short term moments of insanity or behaviors.
So we started wearing leaves, and then invented clothes. Then elders built rules, whole behavioral science, social science, moral debates, checks and balances, police, parliaments, parenting techniques blah blah.
The point is- to curb these impulses humanity went to great lengths to thousands of years. Still, impulses based on stimulus coming from all around are tough to curtail, and that’s why there is a fear of the law, or being outcast from the society etc.
The moral restraint bounds us and stops us from literally start eating ourselves.
So what did twitter do?
Twitter simply broke these boundaries. It allowed those impulses out in open, in their full glory, do the damage and then slides down in the dark abyss…. all without any skid marks. Try finding old hashtags or tweets of some mega-tweeter and you will get the point.
So there started a mega galactic storm of pebble-sized Froth balls (PSFB) of all consistencies and stink over the internet right around 2008.
People loved it, imagine a regular twitter troll really speaking in tweets in the real world, humanity must be in some real deep trouble to let it pass by. Disclaimer-No current real references with a real person in today’s world intended.
Like everyone else I also created twitter account in 2009, not sure why, but I did, and forgot about.
There is something with twitter and plain idiocy -
Twitter grabbed my attention in 2010 when two "good fellas" started fighting in the middle of the night over very juicy, not so kosher contracts in Indian Premier league (IPL) Valued at $4.16 Billion, catching up like a wildfire. Now they were not supposed to be "the good fellas", but some of the smartest India can afford.
One was former UN ranked official with multiple decades working at highest levels, very decorated diplomat, a member of parliament from rich educated family, other was a businessman again from a very rich business family, very well educated.
The iconic midnight war on twitter lead to public dressing down of the diplomat turn politician, death of his wife (target of corruption in the tweets) under mysterious circumstances in 2014, and the businessman is absconding from India with warrants on him.
And guess what – They are still tweeting and re-tweeting in 2017.
There are many such stories, much recent with midnight, late night, early morning flurry of tweets from random places by some supposedly sane and responsible people. Creating news headlines and outcries on moral boundaries broken.
This thing seems as addictive and destructive as meth or cocaine.
But the 2-billion-dollar question is who is making money out of it and in what format.
When is someone deep in this trench covered in these PS*Bs throwing around his own, why he would care to buy whatever “you” are selling?
The age old concept of inherent flaw with misaligned interests.
Let’s break it down and see if there is any utility to twitter worth keeping it alive in our world?
Twitter claims close to 350 Million active users every month. Well, devil is in the details.
There are four kinds of users on Twitter.
1. Marketers, both products and politics (including affiliate media) and PR firms.
2. Affiliates to the Marketers and PR firms, Managed accounts, fakes, rings and everything around.
3. People like me who got into the hype and created account way back didn’t really use it. Until they launched a company and started tweeting “as they say”, then broke free off the uselessness of it.
4. The coveted bunny with money (or votes) behind the computer. Every marketer and PR guy are looking for him as promised by twitter and Mr. Bunny gets paid for, through targeted ads.
Who pays for Twitter ads? – A Marketer with the tangible offering.
Twitter has lost $2 Billion in last decade of its existence.
There are reasons to it, apart from the theory of PSFB (pebble sized Froth balls) and misaligned interest between the customers and marketer. If there are marketers worth their soil still using twitter god bless them and their clients.
Attention Deficit Disorder (A.D.D)
Let us “assume” there is a real bunny with money (BWM) user on Twitter.
An average BWM’s is very eager and cute so he follows a lot of people “recommended” by twitter. His timeline bombarded by tweets with a lifetime of a few seconds or sometimes less.
So an average marketer tweet fights with some real creatively and expensively created click baits along with shouts, troll fights of every kind, which are by-God interesting.
Assume our BWM is on twitter for say an hour procrastinating, blabbering, outraging etc. You have created a mega tweet with all the checkbox checked “as they say”. He sees your tweet with a half-fried brain, okay he grabbed the bait, i.e. clicked your offer. Now what?
He sees PPAP (Pen Pineapple Apple Pen) again on the twitter feed. Boom he is gone.
It's way easier to catch a free-range chicken than a BWM on twitter. Considering the costs involved.
The mega parallax.
When I go to a temple I will buy flowers, incense sticks, and related stuff to help me pray. So it makes sense for those folks selling aligned stuff around the temple.
When I’m in a food court I would expect my favorite Panda Express (Yummy) or Popeyes (Again Yummy) or A Dosa Shop (Yummy, Yummy) to choose from.
Now twitter is a storm of PSFB(Pebble-sized Froth balls). Imagine you are a grunter and sitting on a pile of whatever grunters like to sit on, what would you buy?
Any guesses? Exactly! More of that, please.
And that’s what you sell on twitter.
Political Marketers, Mega PR, Cyber Cells.
These are the folks mostly sustaining Twitter, the main reason for Twitter’s “assumed” losses, these users don’t pay any ad money, but work with their own massive infra, riding on twitter.
We have monitored only India, so any similarity with some other country is purely coincidental.
Political Cyber Cells including PR cells, Rings, and Affiliate Infrastructures Owns Majority of Twitter.
We have covered the issue of fake news, fake tweets, fake magnified accounts making a mega impact for the real world in this article.
Click here - Technology Deception Called Twitter.
These hashtags, tweets then slide down into the dark abyss of tweets history never to be found, never even leaving a slight skid mark on whodunit. But the scratches on humanity stay forever, altering it forever.
Cyber Cells Trending HashTags
Check any day with location India on twitter and you will see political cells fighting and they are deeply entrenched.
If you follow these daily will find the rings under rings and a massive infrastructure of nameless faceless accounts with hundreds of thousands “fans” trending these hashtags. It’s tragic to see so many talented folks photoshopping leaders faces over animals, writing vile, abuses of all kind. These hashtags very much feel like a tsunami of froth and it's all over Twitter.
Look at this typical hashtag from India run by a certain political outfit and its aligned infrastructure inciting communal hatred, targeting a certain religion to polarize votes for upcoming elections.
Bigotry, Xenophobia, hatred at such a massive scale is unprecedented in the real world.
We have interviewed some of these folks, they are decent young folks, many of them are very promising journalists, they could be next Cronkite or Pranoy Roys of the world. But all they do now is create 100s of accounts, spend their time following and following back fellow cyber cell accounts or everyone else increasing their numbers. And then creating, tweeting, retweeting this garbage running “hashtags”.
They are very easy to identify for discerning eyes too- They will mostly use a Bollywood actor’s or movie alias openly declare their allegiance to a certain leader, or have certain symbols so others from the army will identify.
Many of them are too creative and have taken over youtube too, content is similar, abusive, fake, rhetorical hyperbole.
The saddest part is mega PR firms jump on any opportunity, so be it soldiers dying on the border - a movie actor will start promoting his action movie on it. Or a personal endeavor and win in the international game are used as an opportunity for intellectual hunting, and going into total hyperbole on jingoism, with every politician, actor jumping in for a selfie showering money, grants in every direction possible, even the tax money.
Of course, many will link that with opportunities created to funnel tax money into private enterprises in the name of the nation, but again the storm is always so fast, no-one cares anymore.
Cyber Cells Speak, sometimes
Mr. Ankit Lal used to run AAP cyber cells and has explained the pain and extent these folks take into promoting their clients. The whole story of using cells in Thailand, VPNs faking IPs etc. at many forums.
To be fair I asked sources from the other side too which @ankitlal painted too evil and they laughed – you don’t really think they run their cells through volunteers, don’t you? And I backtracked.
Corroborating this statement, BJP Social Media Chief gave samples of AAP abuses.
And then went on with his own merry way of abuses on political leaders.
The whole name calling of “Pappu”, “Fenku”, “Gappu”, “NexalDidi” dragging public life to newer and newer lows mostly start from twitter.
Note – For NonHindi Folks –
Pappu = Infantile(Rahul Gandhi – Opposition leader),
Gappu= Infantile with chubby cheeks(Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh),
Fenku = Bombastically Fake (Mr. Narendra Modi- Prime Minister of India).
A lot many times the leaders themselves are seen defending their twitter reputation, right on twitter.
Whenever I meet a journalist I tell them
you are digging your own grave being on twitter, you are feeding the monster which is eating away every ounce of dignity you ever had with your profession.
But the insecurity and ignorance are so massive they keep on gravitating.
Non-Tech Savvy, running on advice these political affiliates cyber cell folks, these are another set of “real” accounts on twitter. Many of them managed by a PR firm, some of them with no money scrambling, doing a lot of “follow, unfollow” and buying followers. It's like 1000 for a few dollars, take your pick, Indian, Foreign. Go on freelancer will find a ton of vendors selling those.
Many in the end find themselves aligning with these cyber cells hawking PSFB (Pellet Sized Froth Balls). The impact is so deep many times they are seen building news fit for twitter. Proving -the river of stupidity when starts flowing only grows.
Below is one news anchor running a prime time “news Channel” debate in a “twitter hashtag format”, loud, messy, full of drama, bigotry and hyperbolic.
In a country like India where at of the end the day there is so much frustration, his show caught up like a wildfire.
The news anchor nudged his viewers to go on twitter and tweet on the hashtag, so every evening after 9 PM twitter was the eye of a mega digital-tornado. He would stoke fear, anger, hysteria everything possible twitter was famous for. Was he paid by twitter or was an affiliate? Or just exploiting the platform? Is something to look at and investigated.
But for me, he was the first sign of a major crack in humanity and the third pillar of democracy. He broke every ethics of journalism and gave new meanings to “Selfie Journalism”.
Fun Fact – He was never personally on twitter. Never cared, he knew what he was doing.
He broke every well-meaning journalist into his format, and to run a twitter format Froth storm and win too, you need the support of these political cyber cells running directly/indirectly on tax money.
And there we go, we lost India. And the third pillar of democracy.
Now let me quote the Declaration of the rights of Humans and Citizens.
Article 1 - Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions can be founded only on the common good.
What is twitter’s and its founder’s utility, to be so rich when everyone is scrambling and scraping through?
Twitter claimed of 200M users to justify the valuations of about $ 11 Billion at IPO. The stock jumped wildly on these valuations. Opening around $45 going to about $60 and today in 2017 at $15.8 (Feb-10-2017)
There was private equity and private capital which got real rich. As much as 1600 Twitter employees and investors became millionaires and more.
Now the stock Is held with funds and institutional investors like vanguard etc. which is mostly public money managed by mutual and investment funds.
- So twitter has eaten into pension funds and public money of most hard working Americans.
- Twitter has built an army of career trolls and killed any respect for barriers and boundaries of human interactions built over generations.
- Twitter has killed generations of Journalists, turning them into meme creating, BuzzFeed headlining, “100 shades of Ikki Stuff” for click bait painters, so needy of a political patronage to survive.
- Twitter has literally killed people.
- Twitter has pushed bigotry and hatred running on fake propaganda to a different level.
- Twitter is a disease which a tweeter gets and reasonable people start behaving like a grade A remorseless bad persons, fighting over a mere hashtag.
And now, real monsters are coming out of this, running their sinister empires, breaking every institution, crushing every fabric humanity was bound with and weaved over generations, claiming real power in the real world. Speaking in tweets, behaving like a hashtag. Dragging down humanity into the dark pit of tweets without leaving a skid mark.
So why twitter claims such a mega space over Internet, a giga-value in this world.
What is the value proposition?
Why humanity and civil society should let this monster survive?
Why not kill it and start restoring humanity?
Building our world, the way we wanted and look back at.
If twitter, a zeta-hazard to the society, can survive after what happened in recent times, then this guy below too has rights. The Aedes mosquito also has no utility and just carries malaria, Dengue, Zeta virus, which shouldn’t be a big deal, considering humanity is anyways drowning under PSFB (Pebble-sized Froth Balls) riding on the blue bird.
Now our suggestions for twitter to come clean on.
The “users” twitter has, are mostly marketer or PR accounts, there is no or negligible legitimate BWM (Bunny with Money) to buy anything there, which they based its evaluations on.
Can twitter differentiate between legit users and marketer accounts and then do the valuations?
- Vet their users and base valuations on that.
- Setup monitoring and internal ombudsman locally in each geo-location twitter operates in.
- Twitter regulated as per local media and publishing laws.
- Explain how the services like "twitter sewa" funded by tax money are not in a conflict of interest with the ruling parties also running their campaigns on Twitter.
And if you can't come clean on these, what are the limits to crony capitalism, quid quo pro? How long can you hide behind technology democratization argument? While democracies are being stressed and institutions put in danger.
We believe, twitter in its current shape and form is dangerous to the world, our future, democracy and pretty much everything we have looked up to binding our communities.
We are monitoring the platform and taking the issue to multiple responsible agencies if you want to chip in click connect below or leave a note to firstname.lastname@example.org
And don't forget to tweet to Mr. Jack Dorsey. We would like to see if at least the owner of the platform responds to some important questions raised.
@jack would you do humanity a favor and #shutdownthetwitter... please? https://ballotboxindia.com/ap/jack-dorsey-shut-down-twitter/5182097549/
Updates - February-11-2017
We got some great responses from professionals and scholars and adding them as updates here.
First amendment Argument Especially “The Free Speech” argument.
The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, ensuring that there is no prohibition on the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble, or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights.
How Twitter is in conflict with the first amendment.
“Freedom of Religion”
The research provides examples of the use of platforms like twitter to spread communal hatred (One Screenshot above) and bigotry in a concerted and organized way without any repercussions and is in exact violation of First amendment.
“Abridging the freedom of speech”
Twitter is marketing platform and not the only method of communication by citizens available over the internet. A personal blog, Email, Newsletters, telephones etc. under digital media. And public places for protest, pamphlets, banners and various other methods of public communications offline are way more effective and responsible.
As per the pro and cons analysis were done in the research the channel is not at all efficient for responsible communication by “Influencers” like public leaders and their PR firms, as well as a common citizen. As per the research, twitter is essentially working in conflict with the principal of freedom of the speech by mixing common citizens with mega influencers and bucketing them together.
To make it more understandable real life examples can be.
A Pre-K class of 4-year students (Citizens like the researcher himself) where 10-year-old students (Mega Influencers and PR Firms) are allowed. They will quickly hog over all the influence and dynamics.
A watering hole in Jungle where tigers are mixed with the animals much lower in the food chain, without proper segregations and rules the natural order of food chain will take effect.
Taking such a large space over the internet and with such inefficiencies, twitter is in exact conflict with freedom of speech. Till it can make a segregation between these different types of users and define rules of operations based on local sensitivities and rule of laws on the lands they operate it will remain to be a major hazard to the First Amendment.
Infringing on the freedom of press
Twitter has been a medium of abuses on Journalists and freedom of the press. As an example the “off the cuff” remarks from very powerful politicians reaching masses in no time creating a major impact, leaving an impression terming mainstream news channels and press as Fake News, essentially discrediting it, without any follow-up or correction.
There is a whole hashtag called #Presstitute running on twitter with a sole aim to abuse and troll press and journalists.
A major Indian journalist @ravishndtv was forced to leave twitter and trolled offline and online for having a different view of the current government. It was a major demoralization of press and was reflected in one of his show based on politicians and trolls harassing journalists titled “If We Can’t Ask Questions, What Can We Do?”
Twitter is in the crushing violation of this part of the first amendment as well.
"Interfering with the right to peaceably assemble i.e. Protests against state oppressions"
Mr. Mohan Das Karam Chand Gandhi, Mr. Martin Luther King, Mr. Jayaprakash Narayana and a plethora of other community leaders have managed to take a stand and actually made a difference by achieving their goals of protests. Leaving a long lasting legacy and positive impacts on the community.
In contrast, with the twitter’s or similar social media era – Anna Hazare’s Protests for Jan Lokpal and the Arab Springs have taken violent forms and failed to reach their desired results. Instead, they have only promoted vested interests take over the movements and use it for political gains.
A recent protest fueled by twitter about a ban by Supreme Court of India (Apex Judiciary body) on Bull Fights involving dangers to public and animal cruelty was forced to be overturned by legislative through ordinance route siting major law and order situation emerging in the state.
#jallikattu protest is a classic case of new age twitter or likes fueled protests which silenced any opposing voice with massive brute force trolling to kill a well-debated judgment by the judiciary. It saw a coalition of Actors and Politicians PR forces coming and fueling the movement in the most undemocratic way possible. With major confusions and law order situation emerging.
Note – #Jallikattu is a sensitive issue and now tied with the tradition and religion which invoke very strong emotions. Above example is only to highlight the way the social media like twitter was used to viciously run the protests which could have run in a more democratic way with right representations and due legal courses. The intention is not to raise any questions on the merits of #JalliKattu tradition itself.
Twitter is in a major violation of this tenet of the First Amendment as well.
"Prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances"
Every government organization has a grievance redressal mechanism. Citizens are encouraged to understand them, use them, and ask their representatives to evolve it and make them better. Twitter is a marketing platform and is never intended to replace any formal governmental grievance redressal system.
Impacts on India vs. The USA.
Received comments from scholars on both sides of the Earth. Both countries are very strong democracies with some great thought leaders and checks and balances, which evolve in the times of crises. The mechanics which need to evolve in both the countries in terms of the use of “Social Media” in its Current form are somewhat different.
The researcher has mostly kept the research centered around India, where the use of Twitter and other social media platforms has taken a very different shape and form. The research has cited overlapping cases from the USA, but doesn’t intend to make a statement in that context.
The #shutdowntwitter should be qualified with the Indian context for this research.
Major interventions needed from India not limiting to just twitter but every social media platform with a reach over a certain number e.g. a million.
1. Data Security – The behavioral and usage data of the citizen shouldn’t leave the country and be secured under archiving processes applicable to mainstream media organizations.
2. Segregation – PR Agency accounts, Mega Influencers accounts, Power User Accounts like of the Journalists should be classified and put under strict laws of the land for accountability, search-ability and archival. And should be separated from a regular citizen accounts.
3. Real Accounts - Accounts should be vetted by corporate due-diligence process per local applicable laws and methodology e.g. use of Credit Cards on file, Adhaar Cards etc.
4. IPOs and Public Money Investments – The valuations should be based on real customer accounts to avoid making of an internet oligarchy with a massive war chest built by public funds to monopolize and fight off any misdemeanor by the organization. Also, not to put public money in danger.
5. Local ombudsman and Redressals – Under the ministry of Information and Broadcasting at State and Central Level Should be in place to handle issues, complaints and gatekeep the content with right classifications of data coming from various categories of users.
This research should be seen in connection to our Democratic Reforms Research Elections Reforms in India Rally-Bandi and Janmela