The slow decline of social media platforms

Well, I have to admit, I’ve been enjoying the decline of the two big players in social media – not the people losing their jobs, I would never relish innocent bystanders finding out the day before thanksgiving that their services are no longer required, but rather the hubris of billionaires believe that they can be like Mary Poppins where at the snap of their fingers that everything falls in place.

Although both Meta and Twitter are declining I would be hesitant about putting them in the same boat given that Elon Musk is a younger version of Donald Trump who considers himself the smartest person in the room and the reason why (in this case) Twitter isn’t successful is because the company is run by morons and only he can fly in like superman with his ‘big brain’ to fix up the platform (all while ignoring that almost everyone of his ideas have been thoroughly investigated by the internal team and found those ideas either never got off the drawing board or if they did found that when they ran small scale tests the idea crashed and burned quickly).

Mark on the other hand is an example of someone who is too smart for his own good – the inability to appreciate the fact that he isn’t the ‘average person’ no matter how much he might wish to talk about his smoked meats. Running a successful business is in part knowing what skills you have but it also requires you to know what your limitations are so then when you confront something your skill set is unable to address you find someone who can. Getting back to Mark, he cannot seem to wrap his head around why people aren’t interested in his Meta version – he can’t work out why his employees aren’t interested in it even after working on it while ignoring that they’re working on it because that is what they’re paid to do not because they are interested in it. The other part of Facebook’s decline has been the ‘vibe’ of the place, people just don’t want to be associated with all the scandals around it with large numbers either going to TikTok or using alternative platforms where it is more reminiscent of the internet of old – chat rooms, dedicated ‘instances’ for particular topics etc. in other words it is the slow and gradual decentralisation of the internet after years of consolidation around a small number of internet businesses. It also doesn’t help when key people within the organisation have delusions of grandeur about ‘taking over the world’.

As for when or if these organisations may collapse – I’m not going to indulge in speculation because there are so many variables but that being said it is possible for these platforms to hang around for years before turning into something else or dying quickly as it becomes apparent that it is no longer a viable business. I remember when Internet Explorer was the dominant browser out there but then Firefox suddenly appeared and gradually its marketshare slipped then Firefox became the dominant browser then Apple embraced KHTML/KJS to create Safari then Google forked KHTML and became blink and replaced KJS with their own JavaScript engine known as V8 and here we are with Chrome dominating the browser market. Point being, there can be long stretches of time where nothing happens and suddenly things start to happen, what was seen as a permanent part of the landscape then suddenly out of nowhere disappears. Netscape Navigator/Communicator was seen as a permanent fixture on the web landscape up until it wasn’t then Internet Explorer took that place which was then quickly replaced etc.

Extended weekend.

I had an extended weekend this week – got some extra hours saved up so I thought I might as well make productive use of it – cleaning up the yard, dealing with the backlog of washing, cleaning the home, update my CV and CV letter – something I had been putting off for ages. Long story short, I got most of what I wanted done within a few days and I feel a whole lot less stressed knowing I don’t have a list of things that still need to be addressed.

Mastodon is taking off like a rocket – in a space of less than a month there are almost 2 million new users and the active users have pushed the number of act users to 2 million. For many of the newbies they’re finding their legs as they learn the new terminology while others revel in the features that Mastodon has but Twitter lacks (or requires people to pay a monthly fee to get access to such as the edit button on Twitter but free of charge on Mastodon). There will be some growing pains as the infrastructure expands to meet demands, hopefully more donations improving the various instances on the fediverse along with growing pains regarding moderation and ensuring the rules are consistently applied.

The choice going forward that people of the internet need to ask themselves is this: Do they want social media platforms that are subject to the whims of a billionaire whose motivation is profit maximisation through increasing user engagement by amplifying content that increases that engagement and thus able to sell more ad spots to advertisers or would they prefer social networking that doesn’t manipulate users for profit maximisation and instead are run by volunteers and non-profit organisations through donations. I would prefer to have an imperfect system tended to by volunteers and funded by donations rather than one where the perverse incentives for profit maximisation result in democracies being undermined via the amplification of conspiracy theories, misinformation and disinformation.

Regarding Musk allowing Trump to come back to Twitter – Musk doesn’t appear to be the brightest bulb on the chandelier because if he was he would realise that Trump won’t come back to Twitter because Trump learned a valuable lesson in life and that is to always control your platform. When it comes to media he has OAN, NewsMax and RSBN on his side but when it came to social networking he was at the mercy of those who he saw that weren’t allied with him so instead he created his own platform which enabled him to have total control of the narrative that is put out there. The other part that will be interesting is whether those who opened up Twitter accounts on the rumour of Trump’s return will close up their account and go back to Truth Social, GAB or many of the other Trump/MAGA orientated social networking platforms.

On a good side of this whole train wreck: Twitter shareholders got a good pay out for their shares and the profile of Mastodon has been raised to the point it is being discussed in mainstream media outlets (aka ‘the normies’ are hearing about it) which may open up further discourse about the alternatives to Facebook (Diaspora) and Instagram (PixelFed). Where there is a crisis there is also opportunity – the crisis at Twitter may force the ‘friend/family member who is good with computers’ to investigate it then evangelise it to those whom they interact with, like a van guard of early adopters who then invite others to take part in this ‘new thing’ they just found. The thing is with social networks is that as soon as the ball starts rolling and picks up momentum then word will spread of its own accord through to the mainstream audience who will first be attracted to the fact that there are no ads for starters then explore to see other benefits such as the ability to edit a toot, the fact that there isn’t an algorithm shovelling the worse of what humanity has to offer into their timeline/feed.

Dealing with long COVID, Apple releases an update and no red wave.

It is an ongoing issue with the constant dry coughing, occasionally coughing up phlegm – I’m try to make sure I get a good a good night sleep each night but I think it is going to be a long road to recovery. At the moment I am working at home with the icing on the cake being able to use my own computer – Mac Studio with a boat load of RAM and a speedy processor thus making the whole work day go a whole lot faster.

Apple released a small update this week to address a security hole in libxml2 (link) which covers macOS, iPadOS and iOS along with some odd bits and pieces to fix issues that couldn’t wait until macOS 13.1 and iOS/iPad 16.2. It is rumoured that the next 13.x/16.x update will be released around mid-December so it’ll be interesting to see what improvements make their way into Safari given how quickly improvements are appearing in the Safari Technology Preview. I think the whole Webextensions API implementation is going to be interesting to watch because a lot of it is in a state of flux so I wouldn’t be surprised that Apple is taking a ‘taking things slowly’ as to avoid implementing it only for their to be a major change resulting in all that work being undermined.

Midterms in the United States didn’t turn out to be the ‘red wave’ that many in the media and Republican talking heads boasted about in the media. I think the sad part was hearing the post mortem by those on the right arguing that they didn’t go right wing enough – it’s almost as though they cannot admit that maybe the ’normal folk’ out in suburbia aren’t interested in the culture wars. Being angry all the time, hating, more anger followed by more hate isn’t sustainable for the long term – it becomes physically, mentally and spiritually taxing on oneself to the point that either you get eaten alive by it or you have to step back and simply leave it altogether.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens next year as inflation drops (the latest statistics out of the US show inflation as well as core inflation have dropped), the economy keeps growing, deficit decreases and crime decreases. What I find interesting is how economists talk about the concern over inflation becoming embedded but these same economists said nothing about 20+ years of super low interest rates in the United States which has resulted in asset inflation, housing bubbles, a stock market bubble, riskier and risker investments and all the factors that would contribute to greater financial instability. Maybe what we’re seeing today in terms of high inflation has its origin further back that two years.

Back to work tomorrow.

Well, after having a three day weekend I am back to work on Wednesday and hopefully things won’t be too chaotic but thank goodness I work from home which makes life a bit easier. Tonight I visited mum and had dinner with her, my sisters partner and two nieces. They’ll be heading up north for Christmas but I’ll give them their presents before they head off – I generally give them money which then allows them to make the decision on what they wish to spend it on rather than me trying to guess what kids are up to these days.

Giving Chrome a go last night – a strange bug kept happening where the bookmarks appear from the bookmarks menu yet if you click on bookmark manager they’re there. In the end I deleted Chrome and all the remnants from the installation then moved back to Safari 16.1. It’ll be interesting to see whether macOS 13.1 will include the improvements that have been merged into Safari Technology Preview.

The Twitter exodus has started.

When Elon Musk took over Twitter I expected some migration from those who had already planned an exit strategy but the reality was more than I could have imagined to the point that within a space of seven days there have been around 275000 new accounts created with an average of 3000-4000 new accounts created every hour.

One thing to keep in mind is that 90% of activity on twitter comes from 10% of users and to be considered part of that 10% you have to tweet at least 3 times a day. Although the numbers may not be in the millions the reality is that the impact will be big over time particularly when you look at who are introducing themselves – journalists, academics, politicians etc. the sort of ‘high value’ users that you want on your website so that you can attract the advertisers. What we’re witnessing is the slow death of Twitter and Elon Musk is going to find out the tough way that businesses don’t want to be associated with a ‘free speech free for all hellscape’ meaning all the subscribers in the world aren’t going to make up for the revenue drop off from advertisers. Just to wrap this up, here is a great interview with Nilay Patel from The Verge:

I’m back to using Chrome after giving Safari a try. I was hoping that with uBlock Origin developer creating a MV3 version of uBlock Origin (known as uBlock Origin Lite) would result in it eventually coming to Safari but it appears that as much as Apple likes to boast about it’s support for Webextensions API the reality is that there is a lot of functionality missing that uBlock Origin Lite relies on. As mentioned on a previous post, I waited until macOS 13 came out with Safari 16.1 to see whether those short comings have been addressed particularly in the area of Webextensions API support but so far it appears that just like the web standards, Apple is dragging their feet every step of the way. Although people have complained about Chrome moving to MV3 it appears that Webkit is in a much worse position when it comes to implementing the Webextension API.