Picture of a judge's wigThe Judge RANTS!Picture of a judge's wig

Date: 27/07/23

Don't Twit, Be A Nit!

As I've remarked before, I don't 'do' Twitter but I do read some accounts every day (sometimes more than once). You'll find some of them listed here.

At least, I did read them until just under a month ago, when the petulant, self-regarding techbrat who now owns it, Elon Musk (*) decided that those with accounts would have to log in to view anything at all, and that non-account holders were to be completely locked out. This, he claimed, was to stop AI bots and the like scraping data from the platform.

He also claimed that it was just 'a temporary measure', but those of us with wider experience of the world know that what is initially deemed 'temporary' can have a permanance matched only by death and taxes (as this example proves).

This was deeply frustrating in that I had spent many a happy hour idling away going through those feeds and picking up interesting (and sometimes enlightening or entertaining) information therefrom. It has also been, of late, an essential distraction from having to work on The Book all the time.

I'll come to how I got around the problem in a minute, but there's a wider issue here. That is the way in which a handful of extremely rich sociopaths and their commercial operations can have a disproportionate effect on the lives of all of us.

For Muskrat's actions are much of a piece with how other 'platforms' such as Fæcesbook and You Tube draw you in and then shaft you. Meta (as it must now be called) demands enormous amounts of your personal data just to let you subscribe, and then sells that data to predatory advertisers (when it's not meekly handing it over to the spooks of your jurisdiction); Alphabet (which owns YT) does the same, in addition to one recent behind-the-scenes change which means that programs and apps which used to let users download material from it no longer work even if you're logged in, requiring you to sign up to a 'premium' account (at a price, natch) before you can download anything. This is another thing which has screwed things up for me, because there were videos which I would like to have kept but which I can't anymore. The Firefox add-on I used to use doesn't register even the mere existence of the video anymore, let alone enable the downloading of it, and the alternative I found will download it, but sticks a big fuck-you QR code in one corner of the screen.

Now, the more compliant of you will say, "Well, they're private companies, they can do what they like". Oh sure, for we live in the age of a price for everything, but there is something odiferous about drawing you in with what's in the shop window, so to speak, and then taking your money or your very identity itself before you can even get into the store to try anything on.

These corporations have enormous clout and reach, and because of that can skew and manipulate public opinion and, thereby, the political process itself to ensure that the sort of firm regulation which would be considered de rigeur (if not essential) when applied to similar dominatory conduct in other areas of economic and societal activity is deemed out of reach by politicians and administrators cowed by - or bought by - that amalgam of anti-social media corporations.

In short, the tech Goliaths have far too much power, and there are as yet far too few tech Davids to take them down. Alternatives to Twitter have been created, of course, but so far they have either had very limited reach (e.g. Mastodon), or have been set up for ideological purposes (such as Donald J. Fart-euphemism's effort), or - irony of ironies - they are owned by another of the giants e.g. Threads. The market dominance - and the concomitant dominance of public consciousness - of the well-established brands is such that any upstart startup can be drowned in an ocean of blue-ticks and stupid cat videos, or reduced to filling their slingshots with small amounts of fine sand.

And they answer to no-one except their owners and sharholders, the very zenith of the type of corporate rule which has taken over most of the planet in the last forty years; an obverse type of fascism in which - rather than supposedly autonomous corporations taking orders from the government in return for favourable treatment, such as the protection of domestic markets, for example - the supposedly democratic government is given its directions from corporations in return for a sort-of promise that those corporations will not capsize the country's economy.

This has not ended well, in as much as it has ended. Things will get no better.

Anyway, as promised, my workaround for Elon's Wall Of (self-inflicted) Death:

You should now be able to browse that account's timeline. Of course, you won't have full functionality as you would with the original, but you should at least be able to see the tweets (or, as 'twere, the nits). It's also dependent on Nitter's ability to scrape the account at any given moment, so it can be a bit hit-and-miss. It seems to work more often that not, though.

Until that muppet manbaby screws around with something else, of course...

* Which is, as we know, a contraction of 'Elongated Musket', i.e. a gigantic weapon.