Twitter in the age of pandemics

Photo by Edward Jenner on

I came across an interesting blog on Wired; I won’t be linking to it because it doesn’t deserve a backlink! (it is infested with advertising and trackers) However, out of the key takeaway from it is that the best response to a pandemic is to shut Twitter down.

We don’t lack information; we have an excess of it. Wired suggests that it boils down to Twitter’s “algorithmic magic” that “bubbles up the relevant content”. If you still don’t realise- the proprietary algorithms have been designed to get the harmful content to make you click.

It is easy to be a conformist and “tweet” about whatever values you wish to propagate but it is not difficult to see that some posts are intentionally “boosted” in the timelines to provide a “societal consensus on opinions” that Twitter wishes to peddle.

I have seen these social networks from the time they grew into prominence in the past several years. They have made several iterations to “boost engagement” and you don’t need a systematic review to tell, you that negativity sells more. The pandemic crisis has made it worse by hijacking the hashtags and peddling nonsense.

The other key takeaway from Wired is that suggests going back to “web 2.0” (which was the time for self-hosted blogs and long forms). I didn’t know how to react- web “2.0” never vanished, but it was an artificial construct of the same tech media that peddles and cuddles up to its money managers. Most users use the Internet for streaming, social media and perhaps some content consumption like news. When you have fragmented attention spans in the sea of distractions, it is not hard to see that sophisticated science has developed to lure users in the same.

I agree that Twitter has given a megaphone most users, and it is part of my ongoing evaluation of social media and it’s relevance to medical professionals.