back to article Nitwit has fit over twit hit: Troll takes timeless termination terribly

Twitter this week permanently banned a high-profile self-proclaimed troll, marking a possible sea-change in how the social network tackles its worst users. Baffling web celeb Milo Yiannopoulos was previously temporarily suspended from the service and earlier this year had his "verified" status revoked. Then after Yiannopoulos …

One of his devotees called me a racist for saying #blacklivesmatter isn't a racist movement, and he then went on to call me a "limey wanker."

This is the level of interaction we're talking about, here.

#limeywankersmatter

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Have you seen what BLM supporters say on Twitter? Given that and the facts of police violence (it's actually not racially biased when you consider criminality rates across races), we have to accept BLM is racist.

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I'll let the downvotes speak for themselves.

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I'm sorry, but I have no interest in your limey wanker smatter...

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Woah you are so going to get a lot of down votes for pointing that out.

Yes Milo might be a pain, but being a pain on the right seems makes you "baffling" apparently, whereas being a pain on the left just makes you edgy ;-)

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Coat

"#limeywankersmatter"

Oh my god, what have you been eating then?

Oh, sorry, I thought you said Lime Wank Splatter, my bad.

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"it's actually not racially biased when you consider criminality rates across races"

Like the cop in Miami who was concerned that an autistic guy had a gun (which was obviously a toy truck) so he naturally shot the guy's black therapist, who was lying on the ground with his hands in the air?

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@Darryl -- Re: "it's actually not racially biased when you consider criminality rates across races"

There's an update on this... seems the cop was trying to shot the autistic guy. WTF?????

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Re: @Darryl -- "it's actually not racially biased when you consider criminality rates across races"

So the cop may not be racist, just trigger happy with bad aim.

...That is not comforting at all.

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Twitter's problem

Twitter has a problem with trolling because of its design. Very short comments do not lend themselves to any insight but more to snide cracks. Either more are banned or Twitter faces the problem of declining users; who wants to be snidely harassed all the time?

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Re: Twitter's problem

The lack of a distinction between talking *about* someone and talking *at* them doesn't help either.

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Re: Twitter's problem

"Very short comments do not lend themselves to any insight but more to snide cracks"

Is it still 160? No matter, you are perfectly correct, a maximum only encourages the barely literate in many cases.

They should switch to a minimum with checks for garbage characters or repeated phrases. Stop people for posting anything unless they make an effort to compose at least half a page of at least semi literate content. That should weed out a fair percentage of those with nothing meaningful or coherent to say. Probably kill the business though, meh, they can go to Facebook and be experimented on.

It's not as if contact anybody as long as they have an account model was a wise idea in the first place, too many with conflicting beliefs or ideas that feel threatened by the beliefs or ideas of others and seek to attack them directly or at the behest of others to whom they identify.

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Trollface

Re: Twitter's problem

Twitter is great for witty remarks, references to websites, and general short posts. It seems also to be good for abuse.

When people over in the US bleat about private organisations censoring them, they conveniently forget (no one learns civics in US schools any more) that the First Amendment only bans the government from inhibiting speech. Private organisations may choose who they allow to speak/write/post in their forums. And Twitter, not being part of the US Government, can ban trolls and pests and the said trolls and pests can do nothing about it but complain.

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Re: Twitter's problem

The thing is that this design is also Twitter's strength- as a regular user one can have a degree of conversation with interesting people that is possible because of the brevity and low-commitment form of communication we are using. It's also a great medium for one-liners and sharing interesting links.

Unfortunately the things that make it good, also make it vulnerable to the worst of humans and their organisational reluctance to pay any attention to user concerns does mean it is easy for it to become a horribly negative platform if you attract the attention of the wrong subset of users.

In a way, both the sides of this are like a microcosm of the internet in general.

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Re: Twitter's problem

I feel it should do something like exponential back off: the nth tweet in a conversation should be allowed (n+1)140 characters. So the first tweet is 140 characters; the reply is allowed 280; a response to that 320 etc... (I know that's an arithmetic progression, not a geometric one, so it's not true exponential back off.)

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Evidence?

"Do you have any evidence for your claims?"

Yeah, Fusion has a copy of the retweets as does the Internet Archive.

C.

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Re: Evidence?

Twenty-five years a Sysop on CompuServe and never saw anything like this in the political and entertainment fora. Things did get rambunctious in the Linux forum,but not near as bad. Really shouldn't have been allowed to go this far.

We used to make the point that you were under someone else's roof and their rules. Most people got it then.

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Re: Evidence?

>We used to make the point that you were under someone else's roof and their rules. Most people got it then.

Not related to this thread really, but Twitter et al want to be seen as infrastructure. They want to be the roads, not the houses with roofs and rules and gates. That's how they want to be seen, but it isn't what they are.

With the abandonment of open protocols and software in favour of clientless, closed, remote-server-based applications like twitter, users lose the ability to do useful things. We've known for years that you have to have a "contact-acceptance" system or you get spam (smtp), phishing (skype), or just more noise facebook) but twitter is a self-promotion platform so a contact-filtering system rather defeats the point.

The abuse is horrid, but in the same way that ebay has gone from a car-boot sale for individuals to a direct sales platform for business, so twitter is basically a commercial promotion machine. If that assessment is correct, get someone who isn't personally involved to either filter/proxy the requests through or answer on your behalf. That doesn't excuse the abuse, but the abuse is commercially facilitated, if not commercially motivated. An obnoxious troll is bad enough, an obnoxious troll with ratings to maintain will be worse. I don't use Twitter, but it appears to be usenet with just a single top-level of topics (user handles). Cross posting is still an issue.

As far as the trolls' claims of racism go, people need to remember that the internet is bigger than their issue. In a town with just black and white people, blacklivesmatter may be relevant, but it is playing the race card. My first thought was, "Do brown lives matter? Are you interested in what happens to Mexicans? For that matter, do you care when white people are the subject of police brutality?" blacklivesmatter seems to exclude concern for non-black people. Maybe blacklivesmattertoo would have been better? Would that not be snappy enough for the soundbites so the campaign went with the more aggressive-sounding version? The point is, if you draw distinctions based on race, you encourage others to do the same. The ensuing conflict might be great for those who live on publicity (the trolls and the SIGs), but it doesn't actually help. Don't refrain from shooting someone because they are black, refrain from shooting them because shooting people is bad. Rather than "don't shoot black people" perhaps the rules of engagement in general need to be updated or more frequent training and equal opportunity courses need to be taken. That's nowhere near as twitter-worthy but I suspect closer to what is actually needed.

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Re: Evidence?

There isn't a single tweet from Milo in there where he calls on anyone to harass her. Therefore, no evidence.

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Re: Evidence?

To narrow the focus is to make your statement meaningless. He tweets in an environment where he knows his fan-base will take whatever he says, ramp it up, and bay like hounds across the twittersphere. You can't isolate his comments from the whole point why his comments have an impact.

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Re: Evidence?

The problem with Twitter is that it relies on people to get followers, and typically the majority of followers share some or all of the viewpoints of the people they follow.

Milo has enough followers that he doesn't need to tell people to "get her" for them to pile in and post some nasty stuff, he can be fairly vague and yet get the same impact as a direct call to action. The key question is more for twitter to get to grips with, and that is how do you deal with overly popular idiots like Milo?

In the interest of balance you can of course look back at some of Leslie Jones tweets which exhibit racism, anti semitism and calls for her followers to "get her" in response to a tweet.

https://twitter.com/Lesdoggg/status/564664734268411906

https://twitter.com/Lesdoggg/status/169003034880376832

https://twitter.com/Lesdoggg/status/564965558408327168

https://twitter.com/Lesdoggg/status/755218642674020352

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FAIL

LEFT$("TWITTER USERS IN GENERAL", 1, 4)

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Anonymous Coward

Syntax Error.

LEFT$ only takes (string, length)

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It's all for the best

Many of @nero's followers have said they will leave Twitter in response to the permanent ban

Sure that can only be a good thing. If only they'd follow through with their threat.

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Re: It's all for the best

I'm sure there is a huge overlap between this group of reprobates and those that said that they were going to move to Canada if the candidate they didn't like was elected president.

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Re: It's all for the best

I think its hilarious that they think that Canada would have them? :)

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Re: It's all for the best

Generally speaking it's folks on the left (as measured in American terms) who speak of moving to Canada. I'm not sure where the Breitbarters have it in mind to go.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's all for the best

Start marching northward, liberal wankers, I say. Canadians don't have many guns, and no handguns at all. You'll love it there, and they can't stop you from coming.

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Re: It's all for the best

[quote]I'm sure there is a huge overlap between this group of reprobates and those that said that they were going to move to Canada if the candidate they didn't like was elected president.[/quote]

No thanks, we don't want them here either. We're taking donations to build a wall between us and the US.

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Re: It's all for the best

No thanks, we don't want them here either. We're taking donations to build a wall between us and the US.

Just ask Trump to get the Mexicans to pay for it. ;)

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Re: It's all for the best

"Agreed. Leave twitter to just be an SJW echo chamber and have people with alternative views find a better platform."

It's not about getting rid of alternative opinion. It's about getting rid of steeple that echo and amplify vile character assassination.

It is possible to express an alternative opinion without being c**t! See I just did it!

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Re: It's all for the best

No thanks, we don't want them here either. We're taking donations to build a wall between us and the US.

Just ask Trump to get the Mexicans to pay for it. ;)

Actually just tell Trump that the Mexicans are sneaking in through Canada and he'll do build it.

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Re: It's all for the best

And and the Americans will pay for it! We're going to make Canada great again!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's all for the best

I sure am getting a lot of downvotes. Canada's pissed!

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I don't get twitter

Twitter just seems to be the place for people to slag off those they hate on the latest reality TV show.

I'm not surprised they can't figure out how to make that pay. It's price....er, I mean worthless.

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The internet - kinda like the open version of the closed ward, at least in some parts.

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Anonymous Coward

For the love of dog.

Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.

What is wrong with the world today? Why are you even giving this guy press?

He's a prick, I concur but by giving him a platform and free publicity just insights others to believe that by being a twat on twatter you can become famous.

Look at streakers in football, the camera's now never show them and the result is hardly any streakers.

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Youth today. Tut. An enterprising streaker would take a selfie stick and live-stream it.

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His words:

"netting me more adoring fans"

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"Up, Periscope!" ??

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My selfie stick isn't long enough for that.

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Re: His words:

"...netting me more adoring fans."

It seems to me that Yiannopolous doesn't need any more "adoring fans" his self-regard and ego are such that that should suffice.

What's the betting that his middle name is Narcissus?

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Unhappy

Sorry AC,

A better analogy than the streaker is that of the botnet. The controller has it all primed, ready to go and at the point of attack, there's such a sustained distributed attack that many who are not geared up defensively will just crumble. It would seem that many who row in on such Twitter campaigns really do seem to be operating on a lowest common denominator.

We don't stop talking about botnets just because we worry about encouraging others. There is a point at which - without being an SJW - people can say stop.

Take the technology out of it for a moment - would you feel OK with 40 people openly abusing a person to their face, based on nothing more than a dislike of a movie remake? Would you consider it acceptable for that abuse to turn racist, religious, based on gender, body shape whatever....

Because if its not OK in person, it's not OK when it happens on line.

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Anonymous Coward

@Cyncal Observer

I agree it's never OK and these people should be banned off social media I just believe that when they get publicity it just gives them exactly what they want and therefore encourages others. I would have thought it much better to publicise the wrongdoing and that they have been banned but not name them. Why feed the troll?

The sticks and stones comment is because I just find it ridiculous that people being abused take the bait, no it's not nice but I'm a strong believer in people showing others to stand up for themselves and not run away because someone is clearly a nasty vindictive piece of shit. The correct course of action in my opinion is to report and ignore, don't even acknowledge any of them. If that happens they will very quickly disappear from the internet.

This is just my opinion of course but I stand by it.

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I'm seeing both sides of the coin here, because I never heard of this guy before - and now that I have it's all negative and a warning about abusing other people will get you banned etc.

On the other foot, I also believe that people who become serial killers to make a name for themselves should be assigned a really dorky sounding code word and their actual, real, name forever struck from public records.

Eg. Ted Bundy could be known as 'Mr Bunny' or something. Take away the fame/notoriety and it might prevent someone from going on a kill crazy rampage one day (maybe..worth a shot).

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@ Sir Runcible Spoon

That is just about a genius idea. But I would be inclined, rather than something goofy like "Mr Bunny", to go with something humiliating like "Bed Wetter #3"; it may be possible to combine the two, EG: "Impotent Bunny-fiddler".

Making their Media Name part of the punishment for going on a rampage seems like a very fitting (additional) punishment - and may even help with rehabilitation, when possible.

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