posted on Tue, Jun 16 '20 under tag: social

Twitter forces users to cut words, sometimes at the expense of losing meaning. This creates confusion and polarization. This is bad.

Starting today, I will not directly compose posts on Twitter. (I had tried to do this earlier, but I would continue retweeting, making threads, etc). But a few things happened in the past month which has made me realize that Twitter has deep issues.

Reason 1

A tweet I made went viral.

This tweet was made in a specific context. The context was that the original development of Aarogya Setu was happening on a private repository and the code in the public repository was just a snapshot. And that’s what the quoted tweet was supposed to show.

But as soon as it started getting retweets I realized that people are reading what I wrote in a different way. They were thinking that the government had put a completely different source code tree in place of Aarogya Setu’s Android source code. It would fit their worldview that the current government is corrupt and full of lies.

I realized it and made a video that demonstrates that the code that was made public corresponded 99.9% to the original application. But I don’t know if people care any more.

Later, in an article on FirstPost, I could make my statement correctly: Aarogya Setu not ‘open source’ in real sense, claim cybersecurity activists, say server code must be made public.

Of course, without twitter none of this would have happened. People would think that Aarogya Setu’s development is fully transparent and so on. But I cannot ignore the problems twitter created here.

Reason 2

A research poster had to be summarized in a tweet and everyone started attacking the research itself.

The original poster’s title is “Self-Identified Vegetarian Pregnant Women in India Have Better Diets Than Self-Identified Non-Vegetarian Women Because of the Intersections of Caste and Economic Status”. But, many started reading the tweet in the light of the current government’s fascist outlook. Respectful engagement is not a word in Twitterverse.

Putting it together

Twitter enforces conciseness. Nuanced ideas cannot be expressed in concise terms. Hence nuance is lost on Twitter.

When nuance is lost, misreading becomes easy. When misread, a sentence can mean anything based on the outlook of the reader. This is breeding ground for polarization.

This works well for Twitter.

But this is bad for humans.


I stop using Twitter to compose tweets.

I will compose things on my blogs and post links on twitter. Even if that is for replying to a tweet.

Like what you are reading? Subscribe (by RSS, email, mastodon, or telegram)!