After Twitter extending their risible “abuse” policy to a suspension of a celebrity white woman speaking out against sexual violence, the problems in their model have been laid bare, and to my pleasant surprise, people are talking about taking action (I’d been pessimistic about this).
Unfortunately, it’s entirely the wrong kind of action: a women’s boycott. This is a problem, because once again, it forces us to do the heavy lifting. And once again, it forces us to silence ourselves: the very opposite of what we should be doing.
So, here’s two things that can be done. One is an activity for men who consider themselves allies. The other is for all of us. Especially women.
tbh I don’t really want women to remain silent on Twitter for a day, I want all men to say nothing and only amplify women’s voices.
— shing yin khor (@sawdustbear) October 13, 2017
This is a very simple thing for men to do: shut up and use their reach to amplify women’s voices. Not just on the day of the boycott (though I will be side-eyeing you if you aren’t), but every day. Twitter’s problem is not that women aren’t refusing to use their broken website; it’s that they aren’t being heard. Men, this is your chance to do something positive and useful. Don’t talk. Don’t reply telling us we’re special. Don’t slip into our DMs. Don’t white-knight for us. Simply amplify women’s voices. We’re saying all the things you wanted us to say, if only you’d listen.
In particular, amplify the voices of marginalised women: black women, trans women, queer women, disabled women, women of colour. These are the voices that need to be heard.
As well as being highly beneficial for women, you men might learn something. It’s a habit worth trying to form, and the results may surprise you.
Delete your data
A lot of Twitter’s money comes from your data: selling information about you to advertisers, placing ads at you, and so forth. Instead of boycotting Twitter, hit them where it hurts, in the moneymaker. Here’s some tips for doing this.
- Use an adblocker. They know you’re doing it. It hurts the advertisers’ feelings. Also, you should be using an adblocker anyway.
- Turn off personalised ads. Hit “disable all” here. While they’re still collecting your information, they can’t use it, which pisses them off.
- Edit your data. Twitter makes guesses at your age and gender for advertisers. You can change them here. My gender is “communist”, and I’m age 13-54.
- Turn off location. Again, it’s data about you, don’t let them have it.
- Delete your interests. Twitter likes guessing at your interests for all the marketing. There’s a list here, and you can delete all of them.
- Block your “tailored audiences”. This dovetails with the personalised ad settings. You’ll find, here, that you’re a member of some personalised audiences. You can request the data. Do it. They’ll send you an email. Block every single account on it. Note: this may take a while and is a bit of a faff. They send the data as a pdf, which you’ll need to convert into a csv–it requires a bit of annoying copy pasting. Next, upload your new block list by going here and selecting “Import a list” from the advanced options menu. Follow the steps and bingo! You’ve blocked your tailored audiences, which is bad for Twitter’s business model. (ETA 14/10/17- the bulk block feature seems to no longer work. Oh well. Do the rest, and if you’re really committed, do please manually block as many of those accounts as possible. And remember to block every advertiser you see!)
- Make your content unprofitable. Twitter owns a pretty broad copyright licence on what you’re posting there. Drop a few f-bombs into your tweets. Append silly gifs to everything. Hate white men, hate Nazis, loudly and proudly. Tweet a lot about how shit Twitter’s policies are. If you have 280 characters, tweet in 140, and use the other 140 to append stuff about how appalling their policy is to every goddamn tweet.
ETA: Here’s another one. Love your block button x
Ah yes, absolutely. If a sponsored tweet comes up in your TL (which it won’t if you adblock), block that account! https://t.co/OkQo3ppdTK
— Another Scary Ghost (@stavvers) October 13, 2017
We shouldn’t be silencing ourselves. We mustn’t silence ourselves. Instead, it’s time to retake Twitter.