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An impressive way to make everything worse
Read to the end for a little prayer I’m sending out into the universe this week
A Timeline Of Elon Musk’s Newest Terrible Ideas
It was a big weekend for Twitter. So I think it’s useful to go step-by-step because so many dumb things have happened on the site in the last three days that it’s easy to let a few slip through the cracks.
First, Twitter actually did publish their algorithm. Here’s a really good thread digging into the nitty gritty. The part of the algorithm that got the most attention is the fact that Twitter users are organized into four classes — Democrat, Republican, Power User, and Elon Musk. Twitter devs have since explained that this was for tracking statistics, but that’s still pretty weird (and sad) if that’s true.
We also now have confirmation of a few best practices for Twitter virality that I think most people assumed were true. Twitter organizes users into groups or buckets and if you post content that doesn’t fit that group, you’ll be penalized. The ratio of followers you have to the amount your following is also a big factor for visibility. Twitter Blue does give you a boost, but it seems as though likes and media such as pictures and videos are actually the best way to organically boost your content. While links to sites outside of Twitter hurt visibility. Oh, and tweets about Ukraine are listed under misinformation. Musk has since said that they will be updating the algorithm every 24-48 hours, but that’s just not going to happen and we shouldn’t feel the need to pretend like it ever will.
It seems as if Elon Musk was not prepared to talk about any of this, but still decided to go live on Friday afternoon in a Spaces event to answer questions. And so when he was asked why he was assigned his own user class, he got pissy, told everyone that the Twitter algorithm is full of dumb junk that needs to be removed, and then ragequit the Space. Whoops.
The next big project for Twitter this weekend was the removal of legacy verification. The Washington Post reported that because legacy verification was added manually over the years it would need to be removed manually. Also, the database that manages the verification routinely breaks. And so the world waited to see how Musk and his hardcore team would fix this issue.
It turns out they just decided not to. And, in a move no one saw coming, found a cool way to make everything worse. As of Sunday morning, all verified users, paid and legacy, have the same label, which reads, “this account is verified because it’s notable in government, news, entertainment, or another designated category.”
There are some caveats here, though, because Twitter under Musk is nothing but a long list of asterisks. Twitter’s guidelines now state if you change your profile picture, photo, or display name you will lose your verification temporarily. I doubt Twitter has the resources to enforce this policy at scale, but I also assume they will use it to mess with users they don’t like. In fact, they already have, stripping The New York Times of its verification after the outlet said it would not be paying for verification. Apparently, this is also a new rule. In a deleted tweet, Musk said that if you publicly say you won’t pay for Twitter, they’ll take your checkmark. While I don’t think Musk is able to actually realize specific plans in advance and is mostly just reacting out of pure animal instinct as everything falls apart around him, I do wonder if the general incompetence is into a useful shield. A way to act out like a petulant child, but make seem as if there’s some method to the madness, some process being worked through.
After taking away the Times’ checkmark, Musk wrote, “their feed is the Twitter equivalent of diarrhea. It’s unreadable. They would have far more real followers if they only posted their top articles.” Oh shit, that’s so smart. They should just post their top articles instead. Yeah, great idea. Anyways, here’s a Chrome extension that displays who paid for their checkmark and who didn’t.
I’m Going On A Little “World” “Tour” Apparently
I have a bunch of live events coming up! What does that mean? Well, some are conferences where I’ll be speaking and moderating panels and others are more chill comedy nights. Want Garbage Day to come to where you are this summer? Shoot me an email! Let’s see if we can make it work.
April 26 — The Observe Summit in London, UK
April 29 — Digital Void at Caveat in New York City, NY
May 1-4 — Web Summit Rio in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
May 10 — “Celebrità di internet e studiosi di meme: cosa sanno? Sanno cose?? Scopriamolo insieme!” in Milan, Italy (more details about this soon)
And, as always, consider subscribing to Garbage Day! You get a bonus weekend edition and Discord access. It’s $5 a month or $45 a year and it helps keep this crazy thing running. Thank you I love you.
There’s A Term For Viral Clips From Fake Podcasts
So on Friday, I wrote about the pornstar that creates clips of a podcast that doesn’t exist to bait men into getting angry (or horny (or both)). Turns out this is a huge thing in Brazil and there’s even a term for it, “fingindo podcast,” or “pretending podcast”. And if you search it on TikTok, there’s a ton of examples. Also, here’s a good Twitter thread in English about it.
People find the idea of faking your own podcast interview super weird — and, sure, it is — but I also think it makes fairly logical sense. In our current content economy, which is practically mapped one-to-one with our actual economy now, the filmed podcast interview has become a status symbol. In the same way a sit down with Barbara Walters was 25 years ago. And what a lot of creators have smartly figured out is that there are just too many podcasts to keep track of, they’re all essentially the same, they’re too long and hard to find, and no one actually cares what the shows are. They’re simply delivery mechanisms for parsociality. So why not just cut out the middleman? Which in this instance is the actual podcast.
How To Code With GPT-4 When You Have Zero Idea How To Code
I’ve watched a lot of tutorials on how to code with GPT-4. I’ve also tried and failed several times to use it myself for a Garbage Day app I’ve wanted to make for a while now. But I find that even the act of starting something, when my experience with coding taps out at CSS and HTML, is really daunting. I simply don’t know the right questions to even ask to get the ball rolling.
So I thought the video above was really instructive. It was made by a YouTube creator named Matt Wolfe and, particularly in the beginning of the video, it does a good job of walking you through the initial process of coding with GPT-4’s help. That said, at the end of the video, Wolfe admits that starting from scratch with an AI is not as quick and easy as you might think.
Italy Is The First Country To Ban ChatGPT (Sorta)
Over the weekend, ChatGPT became inaccessible in Italy. Though, technically, OpenAI geoblocked Italian users, not the other way around. The reason why, per Reuters, is because the Italian government wanted OpenAI to verify that users under the age of 13 couldn’t access the site and because the country’s Data Protection Authority had concerns about user privacy.
I don’t want to get too galaxy brained here — though, I do find myself drifting that way whenever I write about AI now — but I think nationstate AI model alignment is going to be very big very soon. There will be countries that allow unfettered use of this technology, some that regulate it, and others that outright ban it and, in doing so, they will change the trajectory of their country’s history, possible forever. What’s interesting is that I’m not convinced this is the arms race that AI maximalists believe it to be. As in, I’m not convinced that turning your country into a totally open AI playground is a good thing for it and I’m actually becoming more convinced that the real arms race is how fast a country can come up with good, healthy regulations for it.
Lord Miles Is Reportedly In Custody In Afghanistan
The BBC has confirmed that Miles Routledge, the 23-year-old right-wing YouTuber that went viral earlier this year for getting scared while walking around Brooklyn, is officially being held in custody in Afghanistan.
This story has been a confusing one to follow. Routledge’s disappearance while visiting Afghanistan was first reported by an English-language Twitter account claiming to be the Taliban’s PR department. Routledge’s collaborators said it wasn’t an official account, but that Routledge was, in fact, missing.
The BBC is reporting that Routledge is one of three British nationals being held in Afghanistan and that the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office is currently working to negotiate their release. The Taliban PR Twitter account, which may or may not be a parody account that’s completely unaffiliated with anything, has lately been mostly just posting AI-generated memes about Donald Trump, but did take a short break to say the BBC was lying and that Routledge is fine.
A Guy On TikTok Found A 300-Year-Old Well In His Kitchen
A TikTok user, aptly named “The Well Guy,” found a real old well in what was going to be the kitchen of his new renovated house. His property is on a plot of land that used to have a pub on it in 1700s, so before they discovered the well, they were finding all kinds of wild stuff.
The Well Guy has been documenting the process of digging out the well and this week finally finished the renovation. Their kitchen now has a big glass cutout over the well, so you can look down in it from inside the house. Which is a little freaky, but pretty cool.
It’s All Kicking Off In The Ranch Fandom
This has inspired a big discussion on both Reddit and Twitter and now I’d like to ruin your day with it, as well. The TL;DR is that a redditor went to a Polish restaurant and asked for ranch dressing. The restaurant did not have ranch dressing, so the redditor went out to buy some. Then got yelled at for bringing outside food into the restaurant. And now the redditor’s date isn’t really talking to them anymore.
On Reddit, everyone was saying the original poster was an asshole and wanted to know if they were an actual adult because this sounds like something a teenager would do. On Twitter, many people said they would have done the same thing. Make of that what you will.
A Good Tweet
This was dropped into the Garbage Day Discord by katato.
Some Stray Links
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***