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Twitter allegedly deleting negative tweets about United Airlines incident (thenextweb.com)
433 points by ColinWright 165 days ago | hide | past | web | 321 comments | favorite

Surprised that people here are taking this at face value. Why would Twitter remove these tweets from random users while leaving the vast majority of negative tweets in place? No proof has been given. Indeed, this Jay Beecher's allegedly deleted tweet is visible as far as I can tell: https://mobile.twitter.com/dancow/status/851808188567388161

edit: To be fair, Beecher says that my tweet refers to tweets he sent out after the original tweet was deleted. Indeed, his screenshot shows a different timestamp for the original tweet. Not knowing him at all, I have no reason to accuse him of deliberately making this up. But burden of evidence is still on him, and hard to accept claims of random Tweet deleting when, as I write, #NewUnitedAirlinesMottos is a top trend (as it has been all morning), and we have much more definitive evidence that Twitter manually shuts down controversial trending hashtags.

On a sidenote, how is it possible for a user to have a screenshot of an old tweet unless they took it before it was deleted? Other than a caching issue, I thought all Twitter clients (especially the official one) removed tweets marked for deletion? http://stackoverflow.com/questions/5955021/detect-tweet-dele...

My tweet from last night is gone. It's not "alleged".

Yes, it is still an allegation. Nothing has been proven beyond your assertion.

You could settle this by experiment easily if we're trying to prove this to you: go ahead and try posting one, in similar vein to the others. There'd be a false-negative rate if you do it too late so I would try it now.

I've been posting negative-sentiment tweets about United since yesterday. If we do accept the premise that Twitter would do something like this, we should also assume that they'd be selective in which tweets they've deleted, such as tweets that aren't likely to be noticed when gone.

There are too many independent variables and unknowns for there to be an easy experiment. In any case, I'd be happy for other kinds of evidence. If Twitter is silencing tweets about United, is it part of a corporate ad package, in which case, other folks would've heard about this kind of deal for other companies?

Of all tweets to delete, why would they choose ones that aren't likely to be seen anyway?

The premise is so unlikely (given what we know of Twitter's past behavior) that if we accept it, we have to accept motives that are beyond our understanding. That said, it's hard to conceptualize even just the metric that they might be optimizing for.

I mean, randomly pruning negative sentiment tweets for a given topic might allow Twitter to tell United, "Hey, we removed 12,000 negative tweets about your brand" (leaving out the fact that there are 12,000,000 negative United tweets total). Or maybe by removing these random tweets, Twitter reduces the overall spread and diversity of this negative sentiment, as many people are content to just retweet what the most popular Twitter users have said about United. But...what would that fix? Twitter already has algorithms in place that make it hard for you to see things either outside of your own filter bubble or otherwise not popular content.

For example, it's well known that many bots are triggered to auto-reply to Trump tweets, as the space devoted to tweet replies are seen as prime advertising space [0]. But I never see those merch-selling bots. The top replies I see to Trump tweets are either from my network, or are replies from popular (usually political) accounts. I have to dig very far to find those random bot replies.

For me, a major argument against Twitter deleting tweets is that it has many other effective ways to suppress content that would be virtually undetectable without wide-scale analysis of their data.

[0] https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/12/weird...

> The premise is so unlikely (given what we know of Twitter's past behavior) that if we accept it, we have to accept motives that are beyond our understanding.

What you and I both know of Twitter's behavior is unlikely to be shared knowledge between us, unless it's been your job to follow the company for awhile in which case I would have to defer to you. But I still expect you to tell me what it is we should both know.

The Twitter I know is happy to shill for political reasons, that puts the possibility of money being given for damage control at corporate as being plausible to me, since there is more money in corporate than politics and Twitter itself is profit-driven with a shit business model. The Twitter you know is not? We could both be wrong. Without clarifying what you mean by "what we know" I wouldn't be so trigger happy with the rhetoric just yet.

We know these things about Twitter relating to censorship:

They have shut down Twitter accounts for abusing the TOS, and this process is on a case-by-case basis, and can affect well-known users such as Milo Yiannopoullous and Martin Shkreli:



Twitter also deletes content in response to valid legal requests and copyright claims, according to their own transparency report:


We also know that Twitter has applied crowdsourcing/human editing to search query analysis:


I suspect that Trending Topics also has some curation, or at least a manual blacklist, but couldn't find official mention of that.

We also know that Twitter has been sensitive to the tension between being an unfiltered source of information and a platform that amplifies abuse. In January, the company admitted that it "didn't move fast enough" in dealing with abuse complaints:


In March, they announced new measures for reporting abusive tweets/accounts. Under a heading "Leveraging our technology to reduce abusive content", they describe new ways in which an abusive account can be limited, including suppressing the visibility of tweets: https://blog.twitter.com/2017/our-latest-update-on-safety

So we've seen that Twitter will shut down accounts and tweets based on an interpretation of TOS (i.e. what constitutes "abuse") in ways that not everyone agrees with. At the same time, Twitter knows that its special sauce is unfettered speech, so much so that it was slow to even act on shutting down accounts openly associated with ISIS: https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/02/tw...

If they are selectively deleting a small number of tweets, they are probably running an algorithm to determine the most effective tweets (at damaging the brand) while also optimizing for low-visibility deleting.

The real question would be why are they deleting them at all?

>If we do accept the premise that Twitter would do something like this, we should also assume that they'd be selective in which tweets they've deleted

Maybe twitter has a team of lawyers sending them lists of Ids to remove, citing DMCA or whatever.

Of course the hypothetical team of lawyers couldn't keep up, and the whole idea is ludicrous, but twitter might comply.

Who knows?

Their machine learning should be smart enough to not discriminate on a statistically significant scale.

they also deleted my tweet from this morning, which simply made fun of united airlines ("we seat you, then we beat you! Board as a doctor, leave as a patient! #NewUnitedAirlinesMottos")

UAL may be paying twitter and reddit to stifle the fun

and mine is still there, so.

That could just be a matter of attempts at a crackdown failing spectacularly. Reddit mods have been pretty aggressive in trying to prune United stories, without actually blocking or removing them. It can be enough, in other words, just to increase the friction in the system, not to eliminate bad press, but reduce its volume and persistence.

What steps is Reddit taking to "prune" these stories? Do you mean preventing them from hitting the front page?

Aggressively enforcing rules of various subreddits, no actual skullduggery that I've seen at least. So, while normally a subreddit might allow a repost, or a topic to be covered by more than one article, they crack down hard on that. In a sub like WorldNews they were being extremely quick and harsh with "US Internal Politics" for another example, which effectively kills the post.

In essence, it's just how police operate; if you were subjected to every reasonable measure police could bring to bear on you, all of the time, your life would be a misery; A legally sanctioned, totally acceptable misery, but the power of "discretion" keeps that from being the reality for "acceptable" groups.

I think twitter needs to be a bit more transparent about how this stuff goes. I've also heard a lot about political shadow banning, which, who knows? At a certain point though, where theres smoke theres likely fire

Surprised that people here are taking this at face value ... No proof has been given.

What could any ordinary Twitter user possibly provide that you would accept as proof?

I don't think this should be assumed to be true, but I also don't think it should be rejected out of hand. The correct answer is often the middle-ground: ask twitter for a clarification about what happened to the tweets in question, the trending tag, and what its larger policy is.

Given how widespread the incident has become, it doesn't seem sensible for Twitter to start deleting a few "random" tweets.

I suppose it is possible that some faction inside Twitter is doing this, but it isn't official policy, and as such they aren't able to delete everything critical of United.

I, however, find it more likely that this is just a technical issue. As when an "eventually consistent" distributed database takes longer than expected to be consistent, if it does at all. Most of the distributed database products out there have lots of edge cases where they are not consistent, reliable or durable. And Twitter is at a scale (size of DB, update volume, number of datacenters) that few others approach.

Why speculate when you can ask?

Twitter throttles conservative messages and users so we know that Twitter is at least willing to engage in censorship. We'll see if this story develops legs as well.

From TNW. Seems relevant:

Update 2, April 11, 11:15ET: Some readers have suggested that the allegedly deleted tweets might have initially appeared as replies to now-deleted tweets, which would explain why they are missing. However, numerous users contacted by TNW rejected this premise, claiming the missing posts were standard tweets.

TBF it's harder to tell when your tweet is being posted as a reply than it used to be, because of the changes in the Twitter mobile app UI for replies. Since the change I have accidentally posted tweets as replies a couple times.

Surprised that people here are taking this at face value.


Yes. Many people here have had IT experiences where laypersons swear their computer spontaneously did something ridiculous as if the computer was out to commit personal malice. And HN users generally are skeptical of the Internet media's ability to understand and write about technical concepts, especially when click bait is on the line. And there are more than a few users who understand how Twitter's massive data output would make such an alleged Tweet culling to be hilariously insignificant, given the investment of engineering time to execute such a pathetic conspiracy.

Sure, there's a lot of hate for Twitter and for large companies in general. But this kind of claim, without actual evidence (nevermind motive), is a pretty Wilde one, even for HN. Guess it can't be flagged off the front page now without confirming fears of a massive coverup.

Oh I just think that there is a big chunk of users ready to be credulous about any given topic. Not the same users for every topic, just that the userbase is large enough for some people to take lots of things and run with them.

What's really bad is that technically this flight wasn't overbooked at all. United decided to fly one of their crews when the plane was already booked to capacity and had paying passengers 'voluntarily' (what a funny way to use that word) give up their seats so they could move their employees around.

It's a totally ridiculous situation and their media messaging doesn't help at all.

Are you sure it wasn't also overbooked?

They pulled passengers to fly crew, but that doesn't mean it wasn't overbooked.

They claimed it was overbooked but that has not been substantiated with any evidence other than the company making that claim and using it to pre-empt those passengers in favor of their dead-headers. The proof that they are bullshitting is that the passengers were already on board when suddenly the plane was declared overbooked.

Which to me sounds like UA using an excuse to bump passengers off a flight they are already confirmed on in order to fix some kind of crew scheduling issue.

That's exactly what they did. Someone up the chain made a mistake. Other airlines board must-ride passengers (i.e. crew deadheading to the next destination) before passengers, but this did not happen.

Due to FAA regulations, the movement and sleep requirements of crew is enforced big time. In this case, they had a higher priority than a full-fare passenger (Must Ride), and even though it's morally wrong, it is well within the airline's right to remove any passenger at any time for any reason.

Yes, they have the right, but then the public has the right to make a stink. The airline had other options, such as finding alternative transportation, or they could have offered more to bump passengers but they did neither and that's where their error lies. To then remove a bunch of passengers by major force in the age of social media is a mistake that will probably be made only once, those days are over.

But they have to pay compensation. The fact that the minimum compensation was not enough to get anyone to volunteer means they are just begging for regulation to push that minimum up. Penny-wise, pound-foolish.

Fuck United. Corporations pull shit like this all the time, but they don't often get caught like this.

It's OK with me if United doesn't exist tomorrow. Fuck them.

"airline's right to remove any passenger at any time for any reason"

1. Absurd.

Flight attendant: Sir, you farted, we're going to remove you. Passenger: Umm, we're at 42,000 feet?! Flight attendant: Too bad, we can remove you at any time for any reason.

2. Citation for this "right"?

In the airline's contract of carriage I see explicit reasons for being removed from an aircraft, and none of them apply to this case.

Essentially, the Captains word is law while on the plane. He is responsible for the safety of everyone on board. According to FAA FAR 91.3,

  a. The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft.
Additionally ICAO code states

  The pilot-in-command of an aircraft shall have final authority as to the disposition of the aircraft while in command.


Nope. Not applicable at all, the aircraft was not in operation. I am a pilot (former CFII) and and there is no possible application of this FAR to this situation. It's not even a stretch.

I am not convinced that 91.3 and 91.11 CFR 14 are suspended once the airplane is stationary on the ground, could you elaborate?

ICAO defines an accident to be "An occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft which takes place between the time any person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight until such time as all such persons have disembarked" and fulfilling various further criteria.

So, according to that definition the airplane was "in operation", insofar as people had boarded it to fly.

Neither FAR applies when you're fully in compliance with safety instructions and regulations, but not complying with non-safety requests ostensibly based strictly on the contract of carriage. FAR 91.3(a) does not give the pilot the power to command you to drop trou and kiss your own ass, or else he'll throw you off the plane. That's not the intent behind that regulation, at all. It's a safety regulation, to give the PIC wide latitude for safety related operation of the plane, and not be countermanded by his company, or the airplane owner, or any passenger, or in particular air traffic control. The primary purpose of 91.3(a) is to permit the pilot to disregard/refuse an ATC clearance the pilot thinks is unsafe.

Both FAR can certainly apply to stationary "operation" i.e. immediately prior to pushback, requiring you to be seated with a seatbelt on; or stopped on a taxiway, if you do not comply with a crew member to sit down you can correctly be seen to be interfering with a crewmember as you're an obstruction. And if you are interfering, that is a violation of United's rule 21 of the contract of carriage, and in that case they can have you removed from the plane.

Anyway, there is no FAR applicable to this passenger's behavior. He's also not in breach of the contract of carriage. The airline f'd up. And the cops did too.

> That's not the intent behind that regulation, at all. It's a safety regulation

Granted, of course. But it does give the captain the authority, I'd claim - you follow the orders, and then later (outside the airplane) might discuss, question, and take legal recourse.

What if you refuse to switch off your electronic device during take-off, pointing out (correctly, most likely) that it's not actually safety relevant? Or you refuse to move your luggage, sitting in a window seat, arguing that it won't hamper anyone's evacuation? Or what if someone is standing up during taxi arguing that most likely there won't be any sudden acceleration, if so only they themselves are likely to be injured, and they'll hold on to something anyways?

Or, to take a case I've thought about a lot, Saudia Flight 163. The plane took off, caught fire, landed, and taxied. Apparently there was some delay before evacuation, and all people on board perished in the fire. Maybe they would've been better off if some pax had initiated the evacuation before the order was given. Does that now justify that we make our own judgement as passengers as to when to evacuate? And talking of evacuation, you are not supposed to bring your cabin luggage with you as it might obstruct others. But hey, I'll be really fast taking it out, and it's really important to me (maybe I'm a doctor, and my stethoscope is in there), and it's really small, so I'll just take my luggage anyway, I'm so special and it's not safety relevant in my judgement. Do you really want to open the door to everyone making their own judgements in these matters?

See, my instinct in all these cases is - no, you follow the instructions of the crew. Part of it is historical, of course - aviation used to be a dangerous business. In the army and on a ship and in an airplane, you follow orders by the commander - because the stakes are so high (death, and not only for yourself, but also for others), and the asymmetry in information is so high.

Now, yes, there are exceptions (in another comment board someone, in true Godwin's law, did bring up the holocaust and slavery when I argued for following the law), see the Radbruch formula, developed by German law professors after WW II stating that you have to follow the law, unless "it is unbearably injust".

So my point in this whole discussion (as a pilot myself with a smidgen of familiarity with the airline business) is: you follow the instructions of the captain (and by extension, crew), except in extreme cases, or suffer the consequences.

Now, you could make the argument that these broad historical circumstances have shifted. Aviation has been a victim of its own success, in a sense - it is so incredibly safe today (thanks to adherence to well thought-out procedures), that people perceive it more like a bus trip than a dangerous journey. And who wants to listen to a bus driver? What expertise does he have? We all know how to drive.

That argument can be made, and maybe it is right. But I'd argue that if we let everyone make their own judgements as to what is safe or legal on board, we jeopardise the very safety that's been achieved. So far, the jurisdiction of captain and crew on a plane or vessel are pretty absolute (remember that they can or could perform marriages, for example), I'd say, and deliberately so.

Is this a case where that authority has been abused? Maybe (though if the deadheading crew didn't reach their destination, planeloads of pax would have been denied a flight). But is it a reason to throw the whole edifice out of the window? I don't think so, yet.



PS: I note in passing that my posts on this issue are my most down voted ever, burning some Karma here, but hey, saying what I think :-)

I think your scope creep of FAR 91.3 and 91.11 into non-operational and non-safety airline business decisions is uncompelling, and in fact I see it as a risk to flight safety.

The scope creep of these powers increases the risk of abusing that power, and when people are caught in the act of abusing power, it reduces trust. And that loss of trust can risk lives in situations where a very high degree of trust is needed. So I take the position that FAR 91.3 and 91.11 do not make the crew god emperors in all things. I apply those regulations contextually.

And the context of the story of the week, that passenger was not in any way shape or form a safety risk to himself or anyone else, including the crew and therefore FARs simply do not apply at all. This was an airline business decision, it was strictly about money. I'm not going to deny a person who has the capacity to distinguish contexts from peacefully resisting a bullshit business request that relates to the airline's profits. You can't or don't want to distinguish contexts - fine for you.

As for flight 163, is an interesting choice given your position. Basically that airline had not learned the lessons of the 1977 Tenerife accident, which is basically that the absolute authority of the PIC is bullshit. That whole archaic culture of what the captain says goes, he's always right, do not question, just do what you're told, is a dead end concept from a bygone era. Now, we have crew resource management which merges the idea of all crew having a say when it comes to bringing up concerns related to safety, and once they've had their say the PIC is the final authority rather than an absolute authority. There's a difference.

Anyway, when everyone dies in an accident, it's hard to argue after the fact that the PIC was right, and everyone was right to just follow the orders.

Thanks for the considered answer, I might have to rethink my position.

Not denying in the least BTW the lessons of Tenerife/CRM (and I brought up the Saudi 163 example precisely because it challenges PIC authority), just arguing that the devolution of authority should go as far as the crew, but not extend to pax.

As for distinguishing contexts, my argument is that an airplane is not the right place to have that discussion. Say I use my mobile phone, arguing that it is not actually safety relevant, and only a business decision by the airline because they want me to use their expensive credit card sat phone. Then when crew asks me to switch it off, I refuse, and when they ask me to disembark, I refuse, as it's a commercial issue, not safety or ops. It seems like a slippery slope.

Sorry, by "this situation", do you mean the United incident, or the hypothetical example of farting at 42,000 feet that the GP brought up?

If I understand correctly, odor is in fact one explicitly-stated valid reason for being removed from an aircraft. (Not at 42,000 feet, of course.)

Yes, for United it's contract of carriage rule 21, H, reason 16: malodorous condition. It's funny that this is under the auspices of safety though. I guess the logic is if someone stinks enough it might cause disorderly conduct by other passengers?

Usually caused by crappy airline food...

Sure I agree it is just a claim. But they overbook most flights, so it isn't really hard to believe.

They could have paid some other passengers already to not board, prior to deciding that they wanted to fly the crew and needing to pull more passengers.

That leaves the overbooking claim as misdirection, which isn't any better than a lie that they were overbooked, but it's a different situation.

(sorry about the edit crosstalk)

If it was overbooked those excess passengers weren't on the plane. United wanted to fly 4 of their own employees (who showed up after everyone was boarded and seated) and "asked" for 4 seats from boarded paying customers.

Without the employee passengers they were not overbooked or any overbooked passengers were not on the plane and we're irrelevant to the situation.

I have flown plenty of times with other airlines when they overbooked and asked for volunteers. They do it in the terminal before boarding starts and generally don't have any problem getting someone to take $800 to hang around for the next flight.

In those cases:

1) the terminal attendant can tell you exactly when you'll be able to resume your flight

2) you can know whether or not the delay will have you sleeping in an airport and can negotiate for a hotel if necessary.

In this case no one (and why would they) took them up on a game of $800 flight roulette, so they had security drag a random guy off the plane.

It was ridiculous when they made some kids have a dress code and refused to let them fly.

This, on the other hand, should be illegal.

I initially responded to a comment that said What's really bad is that technically this flight wasn't overbooked at all.

And I made the perhaps inane point that we don't actually know that.

I still haven't decided whether I think the airline should be allowed to deplane a passenger arbitrarily.

I'm sure that they should be allowed to deplane someone that is being disruptive (this passenger was not), so it is a matter of what justifications are acceptable, not a matter of whether they can do it at all.

In the instance of the kids, the kids that were refused an erection were not following the dress code.

/me thinks you have an autocomplete issue.

Overbooking does not include non-paying passengers that were not confirmed before the flight. Those passengers had confirmed seats and boarding passes and were in fact already on the plane (as was their luggage). In my experience - which is limited, but I've flown quite a bit over the years - overbooking always involved other paying passengers, never crew.

There are many mechanisms for crew (and just airline employees in general - think mechanics on an emergency call-out to a remote airfield) to pre-empt paying passengers.

This case was exceptional in that those crew (presumably) showed up to the gate after boarding, but I've watched a set of mechanics walk up to a gate just as it was boarding with "must fly" company tickets and some of the last folks who had yet to board got denied.

I don't think there is a significant difference in calling this flight overbooked due to the 4 extra seats needed were on company tickets - it just typically happens behind the scenes 99% of the time and is invisible unless you're specifically watching for it.

In the age of social media 'must fly' company tickets are likely to become a thing of the past. As is offering minimum compensation and if not accepted forcibly 'volunteering' a couple of passengers. Spectacles like this are the last thing any public facing company can get away with and if they got away with it in the past it was only because there weren't any easy avenues for people to hold them accountable.

United seems to be on a roll lately.

Given twitters track record upholding user privacy in the face of lawsuits and the like [0] I'm somewhat skeptical that they'd play ball with United in this way.

I'd suspect it's more likely that United and their twitter drone army are "reporting the tweet(s)" as "abusive or harmful" and if enough twitter users do that it would make sense that twitter would auto-remove / moderate said tweet.

Of course, it's strange that the originators of the tweet don't get notified or see their tweet after moderation - so I'm likely wrong.


I'm not sure I'd take Twitter's refusal to unmask an anti-Trump account as purely upholding privacy. I'd consider Twitter to be pretty anti-Trump, so politics likely play a part there.

I'm also a little skeptical of this. It seems too random. If it were an algorithm, it's hard to know what the parameters were that it was looking for. And if it as a person, it's hard to know why it was so sporadic and limited.

I wonder if it can just be explained by user error? Do we /know/ these tweets were actually ever on twitter? Perhaps the tweet about united failed to post. (It's happened to me). And if that happens to a few people who posted about United, you then get a conspiracy. But if the same thing happens to the cat picture you tweeted, it's chalked up to a bug and forgotten.

Though given Twitter's recent track record with "ghost-deleting" and "shadow-banning", this sort of thing - if true - wouldn't be surprising.

The r/videos subreddit has a rule against videos of fights/assault so whoever posted the video you linked to wasn't following directions. Every subreddit has its own rules. The front page of that subreddit is currently dominated by anti-United sentiment that doesn't violate the rules so I don't know what you're trying to imply.

Do people even make a cursory effort to verify these accusations before repeating them?

> The r/videos subreddit has a rule against videos of fights/assault.

Specifically against videos of police brutality / misconduct... which coincidentally came into effect around the time a police officer joined as moderator.

There's a rule that isn't about police at all.

> 9. No Videos of Assault/Battery

> No videos of real-life, malicious person-on-person assault/battery or physical abuse of animals. This includes raw videos of fights and malicious violence.

Yet they rarely remove videos for physical abuse of animals.

The man is not shown to be resisting (not a fight), and it doesn't seem like police misconduct (or assault). Or am I mistaken?

No need to be smug, especially when you're probably wrong.

This all aside from the fact that I merely pointed out they were deleted, without judgment why. You should also be aware that there is almost always a "rule" in place to point to and serve as cover for tyrannical actions...Doesn't mean much in those cases. (Private company, blah blah, yeah we know. The point is many rules simply serve as cover for authorities to do whatever they want)

It's actually interesting how much content gets deleted from Twitter and Reddit since the the last election. I think it's really unprecedented.

Media is indeed the fourth power.

Yes, though it seemed to start during the 2016 primaries.

Jesus Christ, what's going on?

How can we counteract this? They absolutely deserve the bad publicity they're (or would be) getting!

Let's not act like this is some massive conspiracy. It's one /r/videos thread was deleted because it broke the sub's rules. There were literally dozens of other /r/videos posts on the subject upvoted to /r/all. It's not like the sub's mods were hiding the incident.

The /r/videos rule that was broken is "No Police Brutality/Harassment". They specifically allow videos of police who "have not over-stepped the limits of the law". Let's not pretend that isn't a politically-motivated rule.


I love[1] how police brutality is so common nowadays that a random subreddit must create rules basically saying "Yeah we've all seen these shit; I know it's bad but please take it elsewhere because otherwise we'll be swamped."

[1] By which I mean I hate it.

I see.

I am taking the following measures:

1. Not fly United again until they offer an unconditional apology and compensate the passenger.

2. Sold off United stock as of this morning.

3. I am not trying to make this about Twitter for now. (Also I am way under water on my stock that I will lose too much if I sell them now)

There's "bad publicity", and then there's lynch mob Streisand Effect bandwagoning.

Still deserved, also for the comments they made afterwards.

At least pretend, and say something like "this will not happen again".

> Still deserved, also for the comments they made afterwards.

Maybe, maybe not. We don't have all the facts yet. We still don't even know the identity of the victim - only hearsay from other passengers.

This type of viral emotional response makes me weary. I see it happen so often - Michael Brown, Ahmed Mohammed, TSA Cancer Girl, etc. The lynch mob gets bloodlust and calls for complete destruction of the alleged perpetrators (St. Louis Police, School Administration, TSA, etc). Later more facts come out and we empathize with the perpetrators a bit more, but it's too late - careers and such have already been ruined.

Except we have tons of video, witness statements, responses from UA PR, and the CEO doing the old public "very sorry!, trying to contact the victim now and make ammends"/private "this guy is immature and beligerant!" positions.

So if it's United's fault, remind me again why the security guard likely lost his career over this?

Fault isn't exclusive; United could have acted wrongly in calling security (making it United's fault on one level) and security personnel could have acted wrongly once called (making it their fault, as well.) Heck, both of those could be true even with the passenger's actions at some stage also being wrong.

The idea that, in any situation that goes badly, exactly one actor must be at fault and all others blameless is distressingly common, but clearly wrong.

> The idea that, in any situation that goes badly, exactly one actor must be at fault and all others blameless is distressingly common, but clearly wrong.

So remind me again why we are exclusively lynching United and not potentially other bad actors (passenger, security personnel)?

I don't see anyone getting anything remotely analogous to a lynching, and I see plenty of posts suggesting error on the part of the passenger and/or security services as well as United, so I entirely reject the premise of your question.

> I don't see anyone getting anything remotely analogous to a lynching,

When I say "lynching" I don't mean it literally. I just mean groupthink mindless bashing. Just look at /r/videos over at reddit. It's just a poop-slinging contest at United. If you even mention that the security guards or passenger share part of the blame, you'll get downvoted to oblivion. Same thing happened before with Michael Brown and Ahmed Mohammed. If you went against the hate, you got burned. Right now it's "cool" to bash United so everyone is jumping on the bandwagon.

The video was pretty factual...

Do you have a better way to govern large corporations than shaming them? This isn't a pers-- sorry, forgot that this is America we're talking about.

Twitter had a moment filled with negative tweets about United at the top of its curated Moments tab for the entire day yesterday. Even now I see a trending hashtag and moments about the incident. If their goal was to suppress this story, they couldn't have done a worse job. These accusations sound like paranoia to me.

Yeah, looking over my timeline for yesterday, there are still tons of angry tweets about the incident. This article kind of appears to be jumping to conclusions.

Perhaps they are targeting astroturfing campaign(s).

r/TodayILearned has at least 6 TIL United horror stories ATM.

There's an update on the page:

Update 2, April 11, 11:15ET: Some readers have suggested that the allegedly deleted tweets might have initially appeared as replies to now-deleted tweets, which would explain why they are missing. However, numerous users contacted by TNW rejected this premise, claiming the missing posts were standard tweets.

I'm betting it is something like this, or a related "Twitter did some weird UI change which no one understands again".

If it's not, then it's going to be a bug, and Twitter will apologize and attempt to restore the tweets.

Deleting these tweets isn't in Twitter's interest, no matter how much United pays for ads.

Edit: looking into this a bit more, it looks like it only affects Tweets which have @united mentioned. I suspect it's triggering Twitter's anti-Troll flooding measures, which is clearly wrong.

It'll be interesting to see how Twitter responds, given how slowly they ship any changes.

Replying to myself. A number of the accounts listed by thenextweb do have Tweets to @united visible (now?) prior to them complaining about Tweets being deleted.

Eg: complaining about Tweet being deleted: https://twitter.com/iknowimbitter/status/851640007500718081 Original(?) tweet, 7 hours prior: https://twitter.com/iknowimbitter/status/851544321564323841

Complaint: https://twitter.com/TalkIBC/status/851604796113129476 Original, 1 hour prior: https://twitter.com/TalkIBC/status/851581587967934464

Complaint: https://twitter.com/MickFerry/status/851564908915437568 Original, 6 hours prior: https://twitter.com/MickFerry/status/851474942789079040

I tend to think my theory about spam/troll filtering might be close to correct, but I look forward to finding out exactly what happened.

Pretty obvious this is either an algorithmic response to flooding or an algorithmic response to United mass-reporting tweets that @mention them in response to this...

If Twitter wanted to actively work with United on damage limitation they'd start by not running Twitter moments about the event for the whole day and suppressing the circulation of the video, not deleting a percentage of sarcastic @mentions the following day. And probably delete that United CEO response too...

Wonderful, so Twitter is now a tool for corporate propaganda, Google is providing Censorship-as-a-Service API, Facebook is removing links classified as "Fake News(tm)", Reddit is deleting whatever mods don't agree with etc. Seems like we are going full steam into a dystopian society. I think I should start reading Solzhenitsyn to prepare for what is coming...

> Wonderful, so Twitter is now a tool for corporate propaganda, Google is providing Censorship-as-a-Service API, Facebook is removing links classified as "Fake News(tm)", Reddit is deleting whatever mods don't agree with etc.

This was inevitable. All the above-mentioned services are funded - in large part - by ads. When it came to choosing between serving the users vs. the advertisers the latter would always win in the long run because they were the paying customers.

What's needed is some sort of "public" space on the internet that's not controlled by corporate (and increasingly advertising) interests. Non-profits like Wikipedia and archive.org come close, but aren't meant for real time communication. Ironically, technologies like SMS are also somewhat neutral because they were conceived before advertising became the dominant business model on mobile and have no hooks for "curation" and "engagement".

"This was inevitable. All the above-mentioned services are funded - in large part - by ads."

Unsustainable situations always seem to go on for longer than you expect, but I wonder if we're finally getting to be just a year or three out from Adpocalypse, when the ad-supported internet companies finally end up having to face head on that you can not serve two masters.

I wonder if there's going to be a market developing for services that look like current services, but actually cost money somehow. Probably a billion-dollar-level opportunity for figuring out how to charge for a Facebook or Google or Twitter a couple of bucks a month.

(If you are seriously inclined to take this on, which I would support, bear in mind that the answer to these questions, for all sorts of reasons, is never "It's just Facebook, with a subscription." Facebook, to take one example, has been deeply structured around advertising for years now. You can't take the end result and just remove advertising from it. You need to start back at the beginning and rethink the whole thing, figuring out how to get people to spend some money on it. And I can all but promise "It's Facebook, but cares about your privacy" is a dead letter too, as that has been tried. I don't know what the answers are, just some of the problems. It'll take some serious thought to solve this.)

>I wonder if there's going to be a market developing for services that look like current services, but actually cost money somehow. Probably a billion-dollar-level opportunity for figuring out how to charge for a Facebook or Google or Twitter a couple of bucks a month.

You're really overestimating people's willingness to pay for a service that's already free and convenient. There's really no good comp for tens of millions of users switching from a free service to a paid service just to avoid ads/conspiracy theories.

"You're really overestimating people's willingness to pay for a service that's already free and convenient."

Did you miss my last paragraph?

I mean, if "just reconceptualize the entire idea of a social network" sounds easy to you, well... go for it. But it doesn't sound easy to me, which is why I said "It'll take some serious thought to solve this."

>Did you miss my last paragraph?


>It'll take some serious thought to solve this.

I disagree. No amount of serious thought is going to come up with a solution to reroute an established aspect of modern human nature. The only way this happens is a black swan event that (by definition) nobody is going to see coming.

There are tons of alternative social networks to Facebook, I run several of them. People are more than happy to pay a few $$ a month to not be tracked, censored or advertised at.

Even completely free you can be profitable just selling 'credits' to send e-gifts etc. Facebook is functionally crippled, they still don't even have a dislike button.

> There are tons of alternative social networks to Facebook, I run several of them.

Would you care to tell us more about this/these ??

> Facebook is functionally crippled, they still don't even have a dislike button.

A lack of a dislike button is functionally crippled? Please stop with the hyperbole. They have reasons for this and have rolled out other reaction types a while ago, and all of this is a miniscule amount of the functionality they offer to billions of people.

> People are more than happy to pay a few $$ a month to not be tracked, censored or advertised at

Isn't the current state of the average person's use of the Internet completely contradictory to this?

> Adpocalypse

That's brilliant.

It can't come fast enough for me, but I highly doubt that's only 3 years away. It will also be remembered as the .com crash 2.0.

Facebook is like a network TV sitcom, produced around advertising. Everything is artificially distorted for that purpose.

What if Facebook Released a Premium service, where you pay for the privilege of having no ads served to you? I am sure they have at least considered it a million times, and have decided it would be a bad idea.

It makes me wonder if perhaps the internet is ready for an ad-free, paid news and communication as a service site?

I mean, I personally already do (in the form of various services, such as usenet), but I'm talking about larger portions of the internet. I think maybe the exclusivity via paywall of the right service might actually draw users in.

Been there. Done that. Compuserve, GEnie, Delphi, etc...

> What's needed is some sort of "public" space on the internet that's not controlled by corporate (and increasingly advertising) interests.

Perhaps the federal government could find a budget every year to fund a website that provides exactly this, and that those managing it are not employees of the government.

A USFED-sponsored "public" space would likely end up US-centric and also would have to pander to opinions and whims of the USGOV. Not a good Twitter/FB/Reddit replacement for international users.

The first thought I had was that maybe UN should run something like this, but still, there's an issue that affects us regardless of who is running the service - social media are heavily network-effect-dependent. Unless you're willing to literally have a law against using privately-owned social media and forcing people into government-provided services, any attempt of building such a service will likely fail simply because Twitter, FB and Reddit are already there, and regular people won't have any strong incentive to jump ship.

Don't forget the fact that all these companies built their empires on top of "viral growth", which is an effect only possible because they figured out a way to get people to spread the "idea" of the product the company was pushing at the time to others. Of course, making money off these ideas is also important, so the VCs and private equity firms were there to help "guide" the company into making decision to change the product in ways the users don't/won't/can't notice.

What is needed is some kind of distributed infrastructure like Usenet, which is not owned or controlled by any one entity.

A group of Slashdot users moved to comp.misc when Slashdot made some significant changes they disliked, and there's still some relatively lively discussion over there.

(http://www.eternal-september.org/ if you want your own free text-only feed)

Tweeter and all others you mentioned are private corporations. Their goal is to turn profit to their shareholders - NOTHING MORE.

He who believes these companies exist as a way for the mass population to voice their opinion and as a way to exercise democracy should rethink what these companies are all about.

Note: I do not necessarily agree with that they do, just pointing out what they are all about.

The scary thing is when you realize the so-called news organizations, for the most part, have exactly the same motivations. NYT, WSJ, et al are, after all, corporations too.

Well of course. Who was enough of a sucker to believe that the means of education, information distribution, and public discourse should be privately owned and operated for profit?

So much better if the media was owned and controlled by the government?

No, by journalists!

That's why they need to feel the pain from consumer backslashs. Just look how ridiculous the Pepsi outrage did become.

And look at how quickly everyone forgot about it

What outrage? Serious question, I wasn't even aware there was one recently.

Look up "Pepsi Riot Commercial".

There was a brief and short-lived outrage against Pepsi for a distasteful commercial where a (generic, but people attribute it to BLM) riot was ended by giving a police officer a can of Pepsi.

Or at least, that's what I gathered from reading about it on random comments from unrelated threads on Reddit because I'm out of the loop myself.


Twitter? Meant Reddit. Unimportant change.

A good run down, with a live link to the commercial: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/05/business/kendall-jenner-p...

Fine - I'll accept that once Twitter stops pretending they were responsible for the Arab Spring. And Reddit stops talking about how they're a place for free expression. And so on.

By all means, curate your own back yard however you want. But misleading your users as to the nature of that curation should be actionable somehow. Enforced echo chambers are fine and dandy, so long as they are disclosed as such.

Funny. The real world does not work that way. Misleading the public is what power is for.

> Tweeter and all others you mentioned are private corporations. Their goal is to turn profit to their shareholders - NOTHING MORE.

Not sure what that's supposed to mean. Would it be OK for a food company to use expired ingredients if it increased their profit, or for FedEx trucks to run over people if it helped their bottom line? Private corporations have various degrees of responsibility to the general public, depending on how much harm they can inflict. Twitter has become a major platform for public discourse and it's not like people can move their followers elsewhere. Using Twitter's power to suppress certain kinds of (otherwise acceptable) public statements should be a big no-no.

Since 'expired' food is almost always perfectly safe for human consumption there's nothing wrong with selling expired food and there's entire stores that have that business model. - http://www.delish.com/food-news/a46182/wefood-denmark-expire...


I used to go into a small store when I was a kid and ask for the expired bread. They'd come out of the back with and entire friggin garbage bag full of bread that 'expired' yesterday. That bag was $1.

FedEx truck running over people is illegal whereas Christian bookstores only stocking pro-Christian material is perfectly legal and good business.

You seem to have added to c4n4rd's post the assertion that this is OK. I don't think it was intended that way. The point is not "This is ok because it lines Twitter's pockets", it is more "This is why it is happening. What else did you expect?"

I think we should expect more, the same way we'd expect food producers to not poison us and truck operators to not run us over. Twitter has become a major platform for public discourse (including elections) and needs to at least have some transparency into their deletion and shadowbanning decisions.

That comes from government regulation. The FDA keeps your food from poisoning you. As of now, there is no structure in place forcing twitter to keep the spread of information alive and well.

I'd also point out that structurally, food companies are strongly disincentivized to quickly kill their customers, as they'd like to sell you something tomorrow, too. (Slowly killing their customers is a potential strategy, though anyone who wishes to dance on capitalism's grave with that has a lot of very pointy questions to answer about the government's involvement with the way the food industry may be slowly killing us.)

Twitter is mostly incentivized to keep eyeballs on their site no matter what. If that means using highly sophisticated machine learning algorithms to lock people in a soft, warm filter bubble in which they are eternally flattered for their opinions and never encounter a reason to leave, so be it.

In fact arguably Silicon Valley's biggest social-media challenge they are facing right now is that the world is trying to force them to recognize that not everybody wants to be locked in the same bubble that a Silicon Valley liberal does, a lesson that they are still trying to resist. It would probably be worth billions for Facebook and Twitter to give up on that dream and instead help people into their own custom soft warm filter bubble. If they don't do it, somebody else will.

I'm not celebrating this, simply observing that every month the money gradient Facebook, Twitter, and so on are facing to head down this road is going to get steeper.

I think your analogies are strained.

A better analogy might be to a broadcaster, who because of a monopoly on a scarce public resources, does have certain responsibilities.

But Twitter isn't a broadcaster (nor are they a public utility), and their value is in their network, which they literally have spent billions of dollars creating. It's theirs to do with as they see fit.

The broadcaster has also spent billions for their network [1] but that doesn't absolve them from responsibilities. Like it or not, Twitter has become a major platform for public speech and it's practically impossible to pack up and take thousands and millions of followers elsewhere. So yes, they have a monopoly on a scarce public resource and should act accordingly. At the very least they should have transparency for their deleting and shadowbanning process. The people who've brought in thousands of followers and kept them on Twitter should have a minimum of rights too.

[1] https://www.cnet.com/news/fcc-rakes-in-45-billion-from-wirel...

Your argument seems to be that Facebook and Twitter are so successful they need to be treated as a public service.

You feel justified in controlling the behavior of a public company, not through the commercial code or any legal basis, but because you ex post decided the terms of service everyone agreed to upset you.

> It's theirs to do with as they see fit.

I don't think you should take for granted that this is true. Even privately owned things still must abide by the law of countries they operate in, and even that is just the most crude level of regulation and responsibility a public service has.

Yes, public service is still public even if privately owned. Anything operating open to the general public in this way has certain responsibilities (above and beyond the law) that go along with that. We live in a civic society and we depend on participants in that society living up to their responsibilities as citizens (including corporate citizens).

A lot of the problems we have in our society now result from the abdication of those responsibilities by the people (and corporations) that act in public without taking responsibility for those actions.

edit, for clarification:

my point is that private ownership does not remove a thing from social responsibilities. I understand that some people disagree with this, but it astonishes me that they do. The basic premise of civilization is finding ways to live together in ways that are a net-benefit.

>A lot of the problems we have in our society now result from the abdication of those responsibilities by the people (and corporations) that act in public without taking responsibility for those actions.

Such as?

the current state of political discourse, while it has many contributors, is certainly partially caused by the abdication of responsibility of the media to pursue truth.

the current state of governance as well is strongly impacted by the pathologies of shareholder capitalism, which leads to businesses seeking to increase their private profits at the expense of literally everything else, including a scorched earth approach to legal regulation that serves the public benefit. the financing of climate-change denial propaganda campaigns by the coal industry is a very good example of this. another good example would be the private prison industry, and its associated lobbyists seeking to increase rates of incarceration.

this applies to individuals as well though, not just corporations. in many places, people have abdicated their responsibilities to their communities, seeking to live in walled off communities that have no interaction with "others" outside the barricades.

I could go on. I think you get the idea.

I've been thinking for a bit that the unchecked free market is effectively just a layer of indirection on politics.

Sure, the government might not be spying on every word I say, but if the only way for me to connect to the internet is through for-profit companies, who are obligated to spy on every word I say to maximize shareholder value, is there any practical difference from living in a surveillance state?

Sure, the government might not be able to send goons after me in my home or my friend's home, but if the only way to get between the two is a private transportation company that asks for the government's goons, is there any practical difference from living in a police state?

Sure, the government might not be able to control the media, but if the media has the freedom to campaign for whatever candidates they like and send their own leaders to work for the government, and non-compliant media is threatened with the inability to access stories that they need for profit, what is the difference from living in a place with state-controlled media?

I absolutely agree with the understanding that private companies can, and often should, do whatever they want. I am also the sort of person who will argue that Twitter or some Twitter-like service should be censoring violent viewpoints (I am pretty supportive of mastodon.social's Terms of Service, for instance). But that's rooted in the same belief: we need to actively make sure that our society is the society we want it to be. It's not enough to make sure that our government is the government we want it to be, and treat everything between the government and the common man as an uncontrollable inevitability.

Fighting for the government to give freedom to corporations to do whatever they wish is very different from fighting for freedom for people.

In the long term we can at least attempt to counteract this by contributing to decentralized platforms such as Ethereum & Maidsafe, which create transparent decentralized systems in which this sort of censorship is not possible.

Customers will only tolerate it for so long, think of it as an opportunity.

Customers have been clamoring for more control over Twitter's moderation functionality since the 2016 US Presidential elections and they got it.

To be more clear, Twitter's customers are corporations and special interest's groups, not regular non-paying end-users.

Twitter has always been a marketing platform for large brands.

The number of meaningful tweets I see these days is just drowned out by people discussing global brands or whatever manufactured controversy is running around this week (that stupid Pepsi commercial for example).

Also, the news media is lazy and doesn't research stories anymore; they just look at trending topics on Twitter (which is honestly a really, really bad barometer for any sort of public sentiment given how much of Twitter is controlled by bots).

But yeah, I agree with you. Unless you're paying to get tweets removed, you're the product.

Cant sell ads for a non existent audience, see twitters stock price for proof.

I'm skeptical, as I feel it's too normalised and the of majority people/customers are willing to live with this. On top of that "Customers" who are paying nothing to use these services (Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc.), are the products

Imagine if the local water or electric monopoly could vary your service by how much they liked your views. It's time for some antitrust regulation of the big tech companies. If you control a platform then you have an obligation to be fair to the general public.

The water and electric companies are regulated as public utilities largely because they are considered natural monopolies -- that is there is typically only one water or electricity distribution infrastructure for a given community.

Twitter is not a natural monopoly, not a monopoly, and it's not even clear that it will remain the incumbent leading platform.

The web would degrade into unusable garbage if every single platform was required to display every single person's mouth diarrhea.

Do you believe every website should be shut down if they don't have a comments section on every page? Should Google be forced to abandon PageRank because it censors shitty content?

When weblogs first started around 2000, one of the things I really liked about the community that briefly formed was that you had to reach out to make connections to people. I actually favored weblogs that didn't have comment sections at all for this. If some jerk decided to copy & paste your every post and troll as hard as possible in their own space, you could in fact go months without being aware of it, and even once you found out, all you had to do was... not visit it. No active action was required to avoid it.

Perhaps the core problem is that the "comment box" is a fundamentally unscalable tool. Instead of putting up a piece of content and letting everybody slap whatever they want on the end of it, maybe everybody needs to be given their own space, with no comment box. Maybe people should have to active seek out "comments" without having it pushed into their face. If "someone" built a system around that idea instead, perhaps we'd get a more stable structure.

(This, incidentally, harmonizes nicely with my other post that if you want to make money on this, you need to fundamentally rethink the whole situation and the entire incentive structure, not just create "X, but without ads!")

How about some form of transparency at least when deleting undesirable statements? It's not like you can go and tweet to your followers somewhere else.

Why do you believe Twitter us obligated to help you reach your followers?

So? You also can't get your indie movie on prime time TV.

It's like a privately owned shopping mall telling the anti-abortion protestors to move on.

The mall owners probably like free speech as a concept and may even be anti-abortion themselves, but people yelling and waving objectionable banners around upset the other customers and are interfering with the business the mall owners are trying to operate.

Twitter is a platform for people to communicate and you can't easily move your followers. This would be more like the giant local mall booting out shop operators based on their political views.

Twitter is a service that allows advertisers to spend money to put their ads in front of people. If people are using services of Twitter to upset their customers (i.e., the advertisers), it's only logical that Twitter will do something to address that.

> and you can't easily move your followers

So you mean people will keep using Twitter even if they delete some tweets?

> Seems like we are going full steam into a dystopian society

Gonna have to roll my eyes pretty hard at this. These are privately owned servers, they can delete whatever content they want off of them, if you don't like it, you're totally free to host your own server and content.

> if you don't like it, you're totally free to host your own server and content.

You're obviously still seeing the world through this fanciful lens of Mom And Pop corporate libertarianism. But there's more to that story. The more power you pour into Mom and Pop, the less they resemble their usual run-of-the-mill town grocer, and the more they become The Town itself in their own right.

Corporations are graduating from companies and becoming as powerful or more powerful than many nations.

While you roll your eyes, many of us are seeing the greater trend of a world no longer run by countries and constitutions, but by companies and contracts. Worlds where you can't turn around without being faced once again with the company you think it's so easy to just "leave".

You say "get out".

It's oddly reminiscent of those saying "get out" to those who are upset that their party lost in a contentious political election.

First of all, I'm not a libertarian, I'm a pretty solid liberal and think the government should regulate corporations when they break the letter or even the spirit of the law or when they harm the market or consumers for profit or otherwise. My objection is to the idea that twitter meets the criteria of harming consumers, because people use the services provided by twitter, for free, of their own volition. Twitter does not provide a unique service that is especially useful or necessary, there are hundreds of other discussion boards and messaging apps on the net, and if someone doesn't like how twitter operates, nothing is stopping anyone from moving to another platform.

Compare this with something like the ISPs, where consumers have to choose between one and often no alternative options in order to access internet services which are critical for participation in the economy. Unlike any individual ISP, If twitter disappeared overnight, it would have a minimal impact on the economy, society, or even the internet community in general, as most people would immediately shift over to one of the many alternatives like facebook, snapchat, or the explosion of competitors that would hit the scene or suddenly gain traction within days.

Twitter is not powerful, it is a popular messaging app where celebrities post publicly. The government isn't necessary here because consumers are not harmed by twitter sucking.

> if someone doesn't like how twitter operates, nothing is stopping anyone from moving to another platform.

This statement is weirdly detached from reality. The value of a social network is the ability to connect to people. Unless you're, like, Oprah, you cannot unilaterally decree that everyone you follow and everyone who follows you is going to move to another social network. So yes, there is a huge thing stopping most Twitter users from moving to another platform.

This is kind of like saying, "There's nothing stopping you from eating sand." It's technically true, but eating sand will not yield the same results as eating food.

> This statement is so detached from reality that it's almost like you don't know what Twitter is.

I think that statement is the one that is detached from reality; the reality where twitter is of negligible importance beyond shitposting with famous people.

> This is kind of like saying, "There's nothing stopping you from eating sand." It's technically true, but eating sand will not yield the same results as eating food.

You're comparing a choice between messaging apps with the choice between eating food (necessary to survive) and dirt, and I'm the one that is detached from reality? Nobody needs to use twitter. Let me repeat that again because it is the fundamental point that you and many others in this thread seem to be missing

Nobody needs to use twitter.

You won't die if you won't don't use it. You won't lose your job if you don't use it. You will still be able to communicate with your family, friends, and everyone you care to know online if you don't use it. There are tons of other social networking apps and websites out there. People use twitter because they like it. If the twitter userbase has a problem, they can start a trending hashtag or an internet petition or something else to get twitter to change its behavior, but twitter has no obligation to listen besides the obligation they have to corporate shareholders, because they provide their services for free and nothing prevents those users from moving to another platform.

The value of a social network is largely derived from the people in it. You can't take one of the people I follow and substitute an arbitrary person and assume I'll get equal value. The people I follow are on Twitter, and are mostly not on "other social networking apps and websites out there." You may be assigning zero value to everything because you personally don't get anything from it, but surely you can see why that is not a reasonable way to evaluate something.

> You may be assigning zero value to everything because you personally don't get anything from it

How much value I personally assign to it is irrelevant. The bottom line is that it is not a necessity.

> You can't take one of the people I follow and substitute an arbitrary person and assume I'll get equal value. The people I follow are on Twitter, and are mostly not on "other social networking apps and websites out there.

Great. It sounds to me like you use twitter because you like to read posts from certain individuals who also prefer to post on twitter (and not some other site). Those people aren't forced to use twitter, and it isn't anything more than an inconvenience if YOU decided not to use twitter because YOU have objections to how twitter operates their core business. You want to use twitter because you want to stay up to date on "the people you follow". That is not a description of a dystopia. Being able to follow your favorite celebrities is not important (except to you personally).

Maybe we should get the government involved in regulating League of Legends balance changes since they have 100 million+ customers most of which actually spend money to use the service.

No matter how much value you derive from the specific individuals that compose your twitter feed, you are not entitled to any of it because you never entered into an agreement with twitter where you compensated them in exchange for certain guarantees, barring that or something illegal, the government has reason to get involved in what kind of content twitter choose to allow on their site, period.

> Corporations are graduating from companies and becoming as powerful or more powerful than many nations.

Charge first leveled against the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in the 17th century. Of course when push came to shove, they were nationalized by the government. But the trope has far outlasted any of the companies its been pointed at.

So what alternative do you propose? 99% of users are on those platforms. Moving everyone to a different platform is almost impossible.

"Will MySpace ever lose its monopoly?"


"In social networking, there is a huge advantage to have scale. You can find almost anyone on MySpace and the more time that has been invested in the site, the more locked in people are".

The alternatives are the hundreds of other discussion sites on the web that you're free to use at your own discretion. Twitter isn't so important that it "needs an alternative", if you don't like it, don't use it. In the same vein, if all my comments get downvoted on HN, it doesn't mean HN "needs an alternative" anymore than I am inclined to create one and the masses are inclined to use it. If they're not, that means it isn't needed.

None of that changes the fact that twitter is still free to do whatever they want with their own code and servers, and you're free to do the same with yours.

It's worth pointing out that some of the aforementioned platforms are specifically popular because of the curated content that they allow. You're on a platform now that effectively limits and controls the material. For example, it's a particular reason why some people like 4chan, while others dislike it.

A lot of dystopias have involved visions of the future where important parts of society have been largely subsumed by corporations. Those two ideas don't really conflict.

Twitter isn't "an important part of society largely subsumed by corporations", Twitter is a corporation and has been one from the start, but more importantly nobody is forced to use it. People use it because they like it, but frankly, in my opinion and in the opinion of pretty much everyone I know, twitter is mostly crap by a huge margin.

>nobody is forced to use it

Social conformity is far more subtly persuasive than outright violence in this day and age.

"Choosing" to opt out of corporate ownership is equivalent to a de facto excommunication from society.

>"Choosing" to opt out of corporate ownership is equivalent to a de facto excommunication from society.

Not using twitter isn't an excommunication from society, that's absurd hyperbole that might be a sign you're living in a bubble. I don't use twitter, most people I know don't use it, I'm willing to bet most people on this forum don't use it, which is all totally anecdotal, but the effect size is massive.

>Not using twitter isn't an excommunication from society

Obviously not, which is why I said "opt[ing] out of corporate ownership" which includes but is not limited to Twitter, Facebook, Google, Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, Microsoft, Apple, Elsevier, etc.

Yeah, you can set up your own server and "content", but it ain't gunna be like Twitter, because that's where the people are. Network effects make it very hard to launch a competitor

Twitter is an incredibly important communication medium; as an example, it almost certainly was instrumental in electing Trump to the presidency. Just because it's privately owned doesn't mean we should be content to have it run like a petty authoritarian regime.

How about you spend billions of dollars growing a network, and I tell you what to do with it?

(That being said, IMHO, this is truly shortsighted means to collect a couple of bucks today, and a good way to diminish the value of the network over the long term.)

I don't think it's unreasonable to compel companies to behave in certain ways using the law, especially very large and influential companies.

Competition & the market is all well and good, but it's not a panacea. It's very easy to reach a "local minimum" where there are globally bad things happened that cannot be remedied by competition, because it's too expensive/hard/impossible for a competitor to come into existence.

Twitter is an incredibly important communication medium

Perhaps, but that's not an inherent property of twitter itself, it just happens that people are there now, but the same could be said about Digg 6 years ago, or myspace 12 years ago or ICQ 20 years ago, people move around the web as trends come and go. Maybe your competitor will be the next big one, but you're not entitled to a network effect just because you don't like twitter, and neither are you entitled to dictate twitter's prerogatives just because twitter happens to be popular as of April 2017.

Nah, none of those networks were anywhere near as influential as Twitter is now. Many reporters basically live on Twitter; it's at the center our media world.

I don't believe in the idea of "entitled to" or not "entitled to" as absolute moral truths. We come up with a set of rules as a society and entitlements come from those rules.

It's perfectly reasonable to imagine various combinations of rules and try to guess which combination will give us the society we like most.

One possible rule is "private companies should be able to do whatever they want under all circumstances," which is what you and several others seem to be arguing here. I'm sympathetic to that viewpoint in the small, but once corporate entities reach a certain scale and omnipresence, I think it ceases to be reasonable -- in the limit as a corporate entity grows large and powerful, it becomes a government. As it approaches that limit, it should be similarly constrained.

Let me give you an example that will probably make you agree with me. Let's say Twitter decides -- since, hey, it's a private entity and can do whatever it wants with its product -- to delete any accounts that some machine-learning algorithm has identified as belonging to racial group X.

Cool or nah?

> Nah, none of those networks were anywhere near as influential as Twitter is now.

There are also many more people online now than ever before, but nothing fundamental has changed.

> Many reporters basically live on Twitter; it's at the center our media world.

You mean they "use" twitter? So what? Real journalists are outside chasing down stories in the real world, not retweeting crap on twitter as literally anyone is capable of. If a journalist "basically lives on Twitter", they're a crap journalist. Feel free to paste a few twitter feeds from famous journalists and incredulously ask me "so is THIS person a crap journalist?". I'll maintain, if they're not a crap journalist, any work that has elevated them to the status of renowned journalist has absolutely nothing to do with twitter. As far as content goes, almost everyone agrees that twitter is crap, it just happens that a lot of famous people crap there as well.

> private companies should be able to do whatever they want under all circumstances," which is what you and several others seem to be arguing here.

I am not arguing anything even remotely close to this. I don't think private companies should be able to break the law, for example. What I'm arguing is that it is the prerogative of a private company to decide what they host and delete from the servers that they pay for and administer. The public is not paying twitter any money, nor are they forced to use twitter, nor is twitter even that important. Just because celebrities use twitter doesn't mean it's an important societal institution. I'll admit that twitter has had an important cultural impact because it is popular, but just because something is popular does not mean the government should regulate it. Once again, nobody needs or is forced to use twitter.

> as a corporate entity grows large and powerful, it becomes a government

I'm sorry but this is totally absurd. Twitter does not have the power to levy taxes or a standing army or literally any influence or authority over your life at all beyond what you give it. Twitter is a glorified messaging app that happens to be popular with celebrities. That's it. The technology isn't even special or unique besides the scaling concerns.

> Let's say Twitter decides -- since, hey, it's a private entity and can do whatever it wants with its product -- to delete any accounts that some machine-learning algorithm has identified as belonging to racial group X.

Is that "cool"? Nah, I think racism is uncool, and it would piss off a lot of twitter users and non-users (like myself), but hosting a racist website is not illegal, and I don't think it should be. At most you should be entitled to your money back, and since you didn't pay any, you're not entitled to anything.

> Real journalists are outside chasing down stories in the real world

You're never seen a breaking news story come out through twitter in a way that's not possible without instant social media?

> I am not arguing anything even remotely close to this. I don't think private companies should be able to break the law, for example.

Missing the point. This is a discussion about theoretically changing those laws.

> nobody needs or is forced to use twitter

I mean, nobody needs newspapers either. A lot of unnecessary things are very important.

> I'm sorry but this is totally absurd. Twitter does not have the power to levy taxes or a standing army or literally any influence or authority over your life at all beyond what you give it.

Look at walmart. They have half a trillion dollars of money flowing through them. In terms of GDP they would be the ~25th largest country in the world. You think that money doesn't have ridiculous amounts of power just because they don't have a standing army?

> At most you should be entitled to your money back

Imagine for a second that twitter grew to become as important as an ISP. Let's say 90% of the alexa top 10000 required a twitter login to use. Or getting cell phone coverage from a national company required a twitter login. Would you still say they're entitled to discriminate? Is there any threshold of impact on people's lives where you change your mind?

> You're never seen a breaking news story come out through twitter in a way that's not possible without instant social media?

The same thing is possible via facebook or reddit or even yahoo.com which not only gets more traffic than twitter, but has a more homogenized front-page which would have a bigger impact on how many eyeballs see a story.

> I mean, nobody needs newspapers either. A lot of unnecessary things are very important.

And? Should the government force the newspaper to print or remove specific content (outside concerns with the law)? Now that sounds like a dystopia. If you don't like the content of the paper, you can call it a rag, pick up an alternative paper and move on with your day, that is like the quintessential example against your position.

> Look at walmart. They have half a trillion dollars of money flowing through them. In terms of GDP they would be the ~25th largest country in the world. You think that money doesn't have ridiculous amounts of power just because they don't have a standing army?

And? What's your point? Twitter has 2000 employees and can barley turn a profit, Walmart is the largest employer and the largest distributor of foodstuffs and textiles in the U.S. The differences are pretty obvious. Twitter is irrelevant in comparison to walmart.

> Imagine for a second that twitter grew to become as important as an ISP. Let's say 90% of the alexa top 10000 required a twitter login to use. Or getting cell phone coverage from a national company required a twitter login. Would you still say they're entitled to discriminate?

Well that extreme hypothetical is obviously completely different from reality where nobody needs to use twitter for anything. Literally nothing requires twitter, certainly not something as important as getting phone service or having access to literally ANY other website. Your contrived scenario is a great contrast to how irrelevant twitter actually is.

Sure... It's like a restaurant spitting in your food.

That's an absurd comparison. Besides being illegal, spitting in someone's food creates a health risk for the victim, in addition to being a violation of a customer agreement (wherein you pay money to have food prepared for you with reasonable expectations of cleanliness).

Having your posts deleted from a private forum is about as benign as it gets.

This is why it's now, more than ever, necessary to build a social media platform owned and democratically controlled by its users. The reality of our contemporary social fabric is that meaningful discourse is occurring in privately controlled, authoritarian systems, where individual rights have little protection. This will not change outside creating a new network that guarantees these rights.

I know Mastadon is trying to do something like this, but IMO I think it has be premised on a centralized platform with direct democratic control if it's ever to gain steam.

Yeah, you don't just pay for free services with your privacy, you also pay with your free expression.

That is why things like privately run blogs, forums and email lists are ultimately very important...

Can you recommend something by Solzhenitsyn?

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is a slightly lighter (fiction, but reality-based) version of Gulag Archipelago, also by Solzhenitsyn. Might be a good entry if the length of Gulag Archipelago scares you away.

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Gulag Archipelago

It's almost like if turning our free decentralized internet into a bunch of centralized privately financed information silos have been a bad idea. Who saw that coming hu ?

Twitter has always been a tool for corporate propaganda. It was almost literally created to be that.


Corporatism, not capitalism.

Corporatism in this sense is really just monopolization of capitalism, which in itself is a symptom of unchecked capitalism.

corporatism is a specific legal implementation of capitalism. Capitalism is really just private property plus trade. Capitalism can exist outside of a government framework (like many black-grey markets do), but corporatism cannot.

Let's not forget content creators getting demonetized on youtube. Although it's hardly youtube's fault.

Huh, kinda surprised - looks like they deleted my tweet asking United about this incident.

The real outrage in the airline industry is the fact that we allowed security theatre in the form of TSA to get so damn powerful in the first place. There is no reason to be allowing naked x-ray vision scans, pat downs that border on or actually are assault, etc.

As Bruce Schneier said, the one thing they did right after 9/11 was to make the cock-pit doors reinforced and locked from the inside.

Do you think rich people on their own jets get TSA patdowns the same way? No. What we are creating is a state of freedom for the rich, and compliant abuse for the majority of the citizens.

Since the new TSA regulations, I have only flown twice, for these very reasons. The first time I was so outraged at the scanners I was going to protest, but they just sent me through an old school metal detector and I was on my way. The second time, I only got the scanner leaving London, and being in a different country I knew I didn't have the same rights of protest as in the US.

I once called in to NPR while in D.C. when they had a TSA guy on the air. I asked if it wasn't an obvious conflict of interest for the guy at TSA who approved the scanner purchase to immediately go to work for that scanner company, and referenced the above Bruce Schneier quote. I got some deft wiggling out of an answer and my number was blocked the next time I tried to call into an NPR show. (not calling too much, had called in maybe 4 times in the past six months)

It's like someone somewhere said, "the terrorists can't take our freedoms if we take them away first!" (Of course, the real terrorists are the bankers and financiers)

We need to rethink the patriot act, the TSA, homeland security, NDAA, AUMF, and every other peice of legislation the corrupt and/or blackmailed congress allowed to pass (in violation of their oaths) in the clamor post 9/11.

>(Of course, the real terrorists are the bankers and financiers)

You lost me at this point. That's hateful populist rhetoric.

It may be, but it's not wrong. I am not persuaded by such responses which fail to deal with the meat of an issue. IF you want to have a discussion about the usefulness of bankers and financiers and how the abuse they have perpetuated isn't necessarily inherent, or something like that, fine, but don't try to use apeals to emotion as if it were any sort of valid argument. My original career was in anti-terrorism, I even remember when we changed the very definition of terrorism because we didn't like the old one (because it included us), and I can tell you it is quantifiably provable the bankers and financiers are the terrorists you should fear more than the ones in a hijab.





He's saying they are more likely to hurt you.

That's not the definition of a terrorist

Those poor oligarchs!

Agree completely. Sadly, betting it will never happen. Nobody in position to dismantle the TSA will ever do it. It'd take someone who's willing to accept the move as political suicide, since they'll be blamed the first time something bad happens.

Bankers and financiers incite terror/violence for political purposes?

I wonder why Twitter is doing this? What is their incentive for deleting negative tweets about another unrelated corporation? It's not like Twitter has a stake in United. And would they do it just for money? I know they are turning at a loss but this does not seem like a scalable business model...

Maybe somebody high up on twitter has a stake in united

If overbooking ever happens, here is what they should do: Ask a representative of each atomic passenger group to write down a number of dollars on a napkin, and the number of tickets they represent. An individual flying alone might write down $1000-1. A mother of 2 kids might write down $2500-3. Collect the bids, and sort them. Then if you need to swap 4 seats, select the four lowest bids, and give them cash.

Overbooking probably makes sense in general - it should lower costs for everyone in theory. If they used this bid system that I proposed, they would be less afraid of overbooking, and do more of it - until an equilibrium of opportunity lost to empty seats equals the expected payout to napkin bidders.

Even if there is no economic benefit to this system, the voluntary aspect will save some heartache.

This system they have in place is the reason you can find flights for extremely low fares that were once unheard of. Obviously this could have been handled better, but I think people should bear in mind that these inconveniences are the very reason they're saving so much money. This is a rough instance of it, but if you buy a first class ticket you can bet this won't be happening to you. All that said, everyone has the right to show disapproval and take their money elsewhere.

I think there's a few tragedies here that people seem to be missing.

1. A man not clearly identified as a man of authority was empowered to physically remove a passenger from an airplane. I've seen 3 videos so far and while it's not obvious that the passenger questioned his authority, he should have. Given how things unfolded, I wouldn't be surprised to hear next that the man who removed the passenger was actually a nearby manager who was not trained or experienced in removing passengers from airplanes.

2. I think people are actually repulsed by the revocation of permission to fly. Compliance of a passenger denied boarding simply implies that the passenger continues to be in his present location. Here compliance required the passenger to perform work on behalf of the airline. While it's a pretty minor amount of work, I think people are more accustomed to restrictions of their actions. They are understandably more sensitive to giving control to others over what actions they must perform, particularly since it was unexpected in this scenario and the man in question had no frame of reference for determining if his actions were reasonable or not.

3. The execution by the "office" in question was abysmal at best. He showed no patience or sensitivity and the doctor showed no sign of aggression. The force used to remove the man was unquestionably extreme. Someone like that probably would have responded very well to a uniformed police officer. The other two men had uniforms but they didn't look that official and they weren't the ones removing the man. Simply bringing out your handcuffs is likely enough to get compliance. The "officer" should be fired here for performing poorly.

I couldn't agree more with you when it comes to the authority and his execution. I've just seen a lot of people railing against the system of overbooking and the general shitiness of modern air travel. I spent most of my childhood flying as a non-rev thanks to my dad, so I got very used to flying when there was empty seats, and on occasion I was asked to get out of the plane after already seated because a higher priority showed up late. It was always a heart breaker, but that's the life of a non-rev. So I guess I have a different perspective, and think people should appreciate cheap air travel. Again, all of that having been said, people should voice their opinions and hopefully this will change how these incidents are handled.

This seems extraordinarily unlikely.

Care to explain why?

And argue with people who badly want it to be true? No, thanks.

Twitter presumably just 're-accomodating' these tweets, nothing to worry about.

Assuming this is true (which I don't believe it is), why would they do this? I doubt UAL is paying them enough in advertising dollars to justify something like this.

This isn't like silencing/promoting selective political speech where the personal ideals of the heads of the company are being pushed forward. Unless Dorsey really likes flying United.

Even if it's not intentional, they may have some algorithms that "throw the baby out with the bathwater" as the saying goes.

We're already seeing Google's recent "extremism curation" hit a lot of youtubers that shouldn't be anywhere close to being impacted by it, and yet they still are. If Google's DeepMind/Brain AI can't properly curate this sort of stuff, I can't imagine Twitter is any better at it.

After governments keep pushing them to "deal with extremism" I wouldn't be surprised if they took overly aggressive actions to be on the "safe side." I also think they're wrong to do that, but in Google's case they are obviously concerned about more advertisers dumping them.

I am curious about DeepMind/Brain's role in the curating search results. Would you mind explaining more?

Also, I am not sure I understand your reference to Youtube. Is this specifically about Youtube recommended videos in the sidebar?

Not sure if it's only about the sidebar, but many youtubers were apparently deemed 'unsafe' by google and their videos stopped appearing all over youtube.

I think United is paying them a ton and has become a top partner:

"We are constantly working to create industry-leading experiences for our customers. Twitter is a place where our customers engage with us 24/7 about a variety of aspects of travel. The new features that Twitter released have enabled us to create real-time engagements with customers to offer an array of services, from discovering where to go on their next trip, to answering common travel questions faster and easier. We’re excited to use these features to deliver additional experiences that connect people and unite the world through travel."

KC Geen, Director of Digital Marketing and Customer Acquisition at United Airlines


I would like to see more proof before I believe anything. People on the internet (especially Reddit) love to invent conspiracies. Is it likely that both Twitter and Reddit admins are somehow in cahoots with United Airlines?

Tools such as Akasha[1] and IPFS[2] and ZeroNet[3] can't arrive on the scene soon enough, imho.

I think we're on the cusp of seeing these corporate-tools lose their grip on the populace, once Akasha becomes usable by the common man.

[1] https://akasha.world [2] http://ipfs.io/ [3] http://zeronet.io/en

Hooking it onto blockchains provides what advantage over pure IPFS?

Think: ownership.

Do not ascribe to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity or in this case probably engineering oversight. No affiliation or affection to twitter.

Is it stupidity to think that twitter wouldn't try to monetize itelf by selling "reputation management services" to corporate customers? I guess one can get away with a lot of malice if they just affect the outward appearance of stupidity.

Do you know for a fact that Twitter monetizes using "reputation management systems"? I am just suggesting keeping an open mind.

This gets thrown around a lot on hn and I don't buy it as a healthy way to think. Leaves the door wide open

There's a huge difference between question something and believing it. The saying suggests that you shouldn't just jump to believing it, which is what happens all too often.

1) Twitter is a company that owes you, and the public, nothing. The same goes for Facebook and Google. There is no law I know of that prevents them from running their platform however they like. So what if they sensor or take sides? It is their right. If you don't like it, use or build a competing service (as long as Net Neutrality exists).

2) Negative tweets about United could be considered "Fake News" in my opinion. Not because I am some "shill" for United. But because the facts are it was Chicago airport police that escalated the situation to excessive force. The United employees were not involved in that part at all whatsoever. In fact they will probably hesitate to call the authorities for help ever again.

This may serve as an example of a lot of the things wrong in society. First, as a show of how good faith has broken down. Then, to demonstrate the logical contortions performed by people who are otherwise perfectly capable of critical thinking, but really want to see their mistrust in every institution, or human, be true.

This alleged conspiracy would involve

(a) some rather rapid negotiations for a sum that wouldn't be much below the market value of Twitter,

(b) the believe that now, 24h+ after it broke on Twitter, it has not made the jump to many other distribution channels already, and

(c) the complete idiocy of United and Twitter in thinking such a scheme would not be noticed or, if noticed, would not result in coverage orders-of-magnitudes worse than what they deleted. Oh, and

(d) apparently they forgot to delete the original tweets, which were the one actually being shared.

All that is quite implausible, even though it may be possible. Here's an alternative theory: Twitter has, in an attempt to combat spam, implemented a filter that registers a sudden rise in certain keywords, maybe within a negative context. Once triggered, it throttles new tweets that match automatically, until someone overrides it manually. This system just failed spectacularly, because it had never before seen such an amount of tweets with such an imbalance of sentiment.

I'm not saying that the latter theory is true. I just believe it's much more plausible than Twitter just throwing its business away. And while I don't care much about this specific company, I believe something larger is amiss when every single event is always interpreted in the worst (barely) possible way.

If everyone and everything is assumed to be corrupt, pretty soon that's how it's going to be–either because it doesn't make a difference for the pitchfork-people if I'm really corrupt (or just incompetent/unlucky) so why bother? Or because those with pitchforks don't see problem with becoming corrupted themselves. Everyone is doing it, after all.

So, in an attempt to stem the tide of corruption, people scream for transparency, and everyone is accused, everyone is a subject, everyone is under investigation. That, however, cannot work: a liberal democracy does not have the means to audit and control everyone. A free society, and an advanced economy, is sustained by 98%+ doing the right thing even when nobody is looking. That, and the trust it brings, and the institutions it makes possible, is basically the difference between Canada and Somalia.

So I'll delay my scorn for a day and see what Twitter has to offer, and I'll needle the guy I know there with jokes and watch him turn red, and I'll know that moment of shame is (for him) more of an incentive to do better than a million hateful tweets would ever be.

I was in the same camp until I personally witnessed administrative-level collusion to block certain topics on Reddit. I observed the entire event, from the initial breaking story, to its meteoric amplification, and finally to the censorship and aftermath. I didn't believe it was possible, or that such things were happening, until I saw it happen for myself.

Since then, I have seen it happen many times on various platforms. Twitter is particularly guilty of suppressing hash tags that go against their politics. Google does the same by manipulating their trending topics report.

I don't see why this comment was killed. The comment does seem to be relevant to the broader discussion, and it isn't aggressive or hostile in tone. I don't fully agree with all parts of it, but it should be allowed to stand in the conversation.

I believe they shadowbanned me for that comment. Can you see this one?

Yes, I can see it, so if you were shadowbanned then you aren't anymore. (For the record, I'm not sure if HN issues shadowbans for anything other than obvious spam.)

Interesting sidenote:

Last Thursday, after Trump illegally bombed Syria, #HandsOffSyria was becoming reasonably popular on Twitter. I remember making a few offhand tweets with the hashtag and the app on my phone suggesting it.

Last Saturday, I happened to be photographing the #HandsOffSyria protest which was going on in Toronto. I made a tweet about it and noticed that, oddly enough, the Twitter app was no longer suggesting the tag.

Seems to be working again now fwiw ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Perhaps the (presumed human) moderators at hasty (or unpopular) decision makers?

If there was a large-scale quiet-down campaign in force at Twitter, it would almost certainly be a shadow ban. Offending tweets would still be visible to everyone, they would just simply not show up in feeds.

Considering Twitter Moments ran a wildly negative story for the whole day yesterday about this, I think we can safely rule out collusion.

Someone else mentioned an army of flaggers marking these tweets as offensive and automatically get pulled, which makes more sense to me.

1) Tweets should be immutable (since they are in essence immutable anyway as soon as a single Internet copy is made)

2) The evidence here is slim

I'll definitely not be flying United or Delta ever again after this incident. Over-selling spaces on a plane is a scummy practice and shokldn't be allowed. When someone needs to cancel they still pocket the change fee or keep tne entire fee if they miss the flight. Seems like borderline fraud.

Overbooking is an extremely common practice. In fact, I don't know of a single airline that doesn't overbook. On a plane with hundreds of seats you almost always get cancellations; the small amount of times you don't, you almost always get people volunteering to be pushed to the next flight in exchange for money (I've done it myself a few times as I don't mind working in airports).

Cases like these are exceedingly rare. There's a million fucked up things with how they handled the situation, starting with assaulting the passenger. Overbooking itself is the last thing you should be worried about.

As with you, I'm not opposed to overbooking, but:

1) Overbooking should be handled at the gate.

2) I'd like to see an incredibly high legal ceiling for compensating passengers who voluntarily reschedule. $800 (4x the ticket price) or we'll drag some of you out of the plane is ridiculous. And let's not forget that the ceiling is only a legal limitation; it was United's discretion to stop the bidding at the legal ceiling and use force.

> Overbooking should be handled at the gate

It generally is. No idea why it wasn't in this case.

United completely fucked this up in so many ways. Like you said:

1. The overbooking issue should have been handled at the gate. Deplaning should only be done in extreme circumstances, this was not one.

2. The extra crew should have been boarded on a different flight when they didn't get enough volunteer leavers.

3. A much higher ceiling should be placed on the ticket compensation for the extreme cases, through an auction. I don't know if this is legally possible though, but if it's not I'm sure something can be worked out in miles/free future tickets/etc. Pre-flight deplaning costs a lot more in wasted time/delays and even more when it's forced with extra costs in bad press/publicity, security calls, etc. This is a classic example of wasting millions to save hundreds.

4. Security obviously used excessive force. The entire ordeal should have been halted and the CEO should have immediately spoken against their actions rather than come out supporting them.

It's one thing to make idiotic decisions, follow idiotic policies and cost people money. Physical assault is in a completely different ballpark. We have video evidence of what happened -- I hope to see the officer fired and prosecuted. I'm not holding my breath though.

Just because it's common, doesn't make it not scummy. Yes there are cancellations, but airlines usually charge change fees and if you don't make the flight you don't get a refund either--so this policy is win-win for the airlines and lose-lose for consumers.

>in exchange for money

Sure, but not everyone knows that the airlines have to give you money. Usually they offer like $200-$600 in flight vouchers which can only be used $50 per flight... so not really a good deal for most people. Lastly, as a paying customer I find it beyond disgusting and degrading that after finding a seat that United would violently remove and humiliate their customer. That's absolutely not worth it. And United could have just rebooked the excess passengers on a Southwest flight for under $200/each. This was a colossal fuck up by United, no matter how you spin it.

starting with not simply not offering a better deal to the first other person who volunteered...

Like I said, there's a million things. But I'd say beating somebody up is far more criminal behaviour than having a stupid policy.

I've seen a lot of people with this type of attitude, but I honestly don't buy it for a second. Airline customers don't have any brand loyalty - all they care about is that $10 they save.

If you're serious about boycotting United and Delta then you'll also need to boycott the following airlines that codeshare:

  United Airlines	Trans States Holdings	
  United Airlines	Commute Air	
  United Airlines	ExpressJet	
  United Airlines GoJet	
  United Airlines	SkyWest	
  United Airlines	Air Canada
  United Airlines	Shuttle America	
  United Airlines	Mesa	
  United Airlines	Republic	
  United Airlines	Austrian 	
  United Airlines	All Nippon 	
  United Airlines	Lufthansa 	
  United Airlines	Brussels Airlines	
  United Airlines	Swiss International	
  United Airlines	Asiana 
  United Airlines	South African Airways
  United Airlines	Ethiopian 
  United Airlines	Air New Zealand 
  United Airlines	Air China

  Delta Airlines	Aeromexico	
  Delta Airlines	Aeromexico Connect	
  Delta Airlines	Air France	
  Delta Airlines	AF Regional	
  Delta Airlines	City Jet (AF)	
  Delta Airlines	Alitalia	
  Delta Airlines	Air One Cityliner (Alitalia)	
  Delta Airlines	CAI First (Alitalia)	
  Delta Airlines	China Airlines	
  Delta Airlines	China Eastern Airlines	
  Delta Airlines	China Southern Airlines	
  Delta Airlines	CSA Czech Airlines	
  Delta Airlines	GOL Airlines	
  Delta Airlines	KLM Royal Dutch Airlines	
  Delta Airlines	KLM Cityhopper	
  Delta Airlines	Korean Airlines	
  Delta Airlines	Olympic Air	
  Delta Airlines	Vietnam Airlines	
  Delta Airlines	Virgin Australia	
  Delta Airlines	Express Jet	
  Delta Airlines	Skywest	
  Delta Airlines	Shuttle America	
  Delta Airlines	Compass Airlines	
  Delta Airlines	Endeavor Air	
  Delta Airlines	GoJet Airlines	
  Delta Airlines	Aeroflot	
  Delta Airlines	Air Europa	
  Delta Airlines	Horizon Air	
  Delta Airlines	WestJet	
  Delta Airlines	Virgin Atlantic	
  Delta Airlines	Shanghai Airlines	
  Delta Airlines	Aerolineas Argentinas	
  Delta Airlines	Jet Airways, India LTD

You serious? $10? I'd pay an extra $10 any time to fly Delta because I prefer it. (I'm not aware of why we're boycotting Delta -- if there's something I need to know about why they should be boycotted then I'll reconsider.)

And it's not going to be a problem for me to avoid Ethiopian Airlines. Thanks though.

No way, I'll gladly pay more to be on a Virgin or Southwest flight. Every United flight I've ever taken was sub-par and this recent story just solidifies my opinion of the company and that I will avoid them in the future.

Thanks for the tip, I'll add them to my kayak filter.

Delta? How come Delta? The flights I've taken in the past couple of months have been with Delta and their service was fantastic.

D'oh! Never mind, I thought United had acquired Delta. I got them mixed up with Continental. My point was that the United brand will never get another dollar from me.

Wait wait wait....what's wrong with Delta?

Apparently they had something similar (?) happen.


I got them mixed up. I thought United bought Delta, but that was Continental.

Complain to your congressperson.

These sorts of problems are directly caused by deregulation. But be cautious, the benefit of allowing this sort of bullshit has been dramatically lower fares.

>dramatically lower fares.

Bullshit. Jetblue doesn't oversell and they aren't dramatically more expensive [1]. I think you're just believing what they want you to think. At most people are saving a couple dollars a flight.

1: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-02-05/jetblue-n...

> Over-selling spaces on a plane is a scummy practice and shokldn't be allowed.

Without overbooking, you'd switch to complaining about thousand dollar domestic flights.

That's completely bullshit. Flights would be a few bucks more expensive at most, not thousands.


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