Reddit's API changes have left a lot of subreddits in the dark, the long-term users in fury and have broken Google search. Elon's mood swings have reduced Twitter to a joke and the site feels like a standup comedian trying hard to make a joke but is unable to read the crowd. There's Mastodon and whatever that's happening there and the Twitter killer backed by Jack Dorsey, Blue Sky, that at the current moment is inhabited by queer sex workers and a particular shade of sad loneliness that only people on the internet can bask under. Twitter's implosion was a long expected outcome since Musk took charge last year after burning through $44 billion.

Though the fears of a billionaire controlling vast swathes of data became problematic, his purchase came with the tomfoolery last given by Trump as the President of the United States, in yet another demonstration that billionaires are not the infallible behemoths they portray themselves to be. Musk has lost face multiple times over the months making one nonsensical decision after the other and in the process losing a good chunk of his productive work force, while having an influx of Right Wingers and general advertiser exodus. With the unpopular rebranding of Twitter to X, even long-term loyal users are pissed at the changes which have come too fast without a warning.

This year has seen the biggest shift on the internet in a while, most services are becoming walled gardens with a log-in or app usage essential to have any kind of usability. The high interest rates dictated by the US Feds mean that the cheap money that propelled the internet in the past decade dried up and companies are now anxious in monetizing the users, creating silos of information that can only accessed through payment or logging in. Elsewhere, Google search has become a ghost land with advertisements and SEO fluff making a majority of search results, where one has to trawl to find relevant information. With ChatGPT and other LLM's poised to mine free user content to propel their learning models, companies are ever more cautious in letting their precious information out for free.

With a burgeoning influx of new internet users from across the world, whose primary interface to the internet is through social media, creating content for on the internet no longer means open for all but for an algorithmically selected audience, the polarization of the last decade is only set to increase. The old media juggernauts are now replaced by the new media juggernauts, run by people whose vanity is out in the open for everyone to see (the proposed Zuck vs. Musk MMA fight is the cherry on the top).

What is the way forward? One way to think to circumvent the walled gardens is to run personal websites run on one's own dime, giving a granular control on how the data can be accessed while moving away from the advertiser based model of the current internet. Here, away from the shackles from a platform (whose biggest USP is discoverability) one is free to post and maintain content without the fear of censorship or the vitriol that spreads when an idea goes against the thoughts of the mainstream. The other is to post content on social media platforms while still having backups on personal sites for interested users to navigate without privacy invading data being collected. The future of the web should be rooted in a personal ownership of one's data, one where a mega-zillionaire doesn't swoop to dig a massive X making a long history of posting irrelevant.

#twitter #web #socialmedia

A bird went in search of a cage

The world's richest man has brought a social media app for $45 billion, a number far beyond the imagination of us ordinary people. Communication which was earlier in the public domain through the post and state media has now gone into the centralized hands of a global few, where our inner desires, thoughts, and opinions are analyzed and monetized. We do have a herring of having free communication and global reach with these tools, but at what cost? Social media has increased polarization and is modeled to increase addiction and interaction where our attention is the fodder for a new capitalistic machine whose implications no one understands yet. Things we are scared to share even with our therapists are hidden in databases, fuelling our inclination to buy and buy more. To be disconnected is to be poor, our social fabric is hidden in black-box algorithms, another hidden variable to the mysteries of life.

It is to wonder if our collective data has value in the billions and can be mined for profit, why is it that we the people do not get any incentives for that? Sure, money can be made through these social interactions but at the cost of one's mental health and degrading freedoms. A proponent of free speech, this billionaire has forgotten the vileness that Donald Trump's Twitter feed launched in the last decade. We the people are powerless against these juggernauts as our governments are feeble enablers in the toxic transactions that control the very words we use. A handful of companies decide on what we read and what we see, in effect controlling who we are and what we feel. The internet came with a promise of unbridled freedom but now we are yoked to the whims of the powerful. Now ancient regimes of the Stasi are replaced by the overseeing panopticon, a devil veiled in a cloak of invisibility. “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled is convincing the world he does not exist”, modern-day Keyser Soze's are celebrated as heroes, and the propaganda campaigns for future ghettoes are lined with the pocket linen of the haloed billionaires. The critical agencies of what makes us people have now been outsourced to our super-tribal leaders, is this how we imagine future societies to be? Questions can be asked but our depersonalized selves are complex data points in a feverish social order. Researchers from another time will write biographies from our carefully compiled data, perhaps showing that beyond profit, we've been the same people as our ancestors brimming with vanity and little wisdom under the veneer of modernity and prosperity.

Perhaps it's okay to walk naked and shit with the door open when there is nowhere to hide there is nothing to hide. Relax, this won't hurt.. until it does but it won't matter anymore.

#twitter #privacy #capitalism #socialmedia