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15 Mar, 2019 01:01

Internet's padded room: Twitter filing off rough edges for that 'safe space' look

Internet's padded room: Twitter filing off rough edges for that 'safe space' look

Twitter is accelerating its efforts to become the internet's happy place, removing engagement counts and rounding the edges of its graphic interface in order to banish hurt feelings in favor of "healthy conversation."

No longer content with merely deplatforming political wrongthink, the microblogging platform is getting a top-down makeover – complete with round edges and bright colors – to put a friendly face on the boot stomping on yours, letting users know they're serious about checking negative emotions at the login screen.

The new, improved Twitter will "proactively" "takedown …accounts spreading hoaxes and conspiracy theories," boasted head of product development Keith Coleman. In case anyone missed the meaning of his words, he pointed out the platform's new "smart" camera: "It knows where you are and what's going on around you."

For truly pernicious wrongthink, Twitter is rolling out the "hide tweet" feature, which it says will "empower users to make the conversations they start as healthy as possible by giving them some control," meaning users can silence all criticism with the click of a button. And you thought an echo chamber was a bad thing!

It's a good thing they've sanded off those square edges, or this kind of infantilizing condescension might stick in users' craws.

Also banished from the kinder, gentler Twitter are engagement counts, lest anyone feel inadequate upon seeing the retweet counts of users more popular than themselves. After a preliminary outpouring of rage, Twitter execs were quick to clarify that the counts are still there – users just have to click through to the actual tweet to see the numbers.

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The prototype padded-room version of Twitter is called "Twttr," having been "disemvoweled" just like some mainstream news sites used to do to "objectionable" comments – back when mainstream news sites had comments sections. Its logo? A blank blue square. With rounded edges, of course. Wouldn't want anyone to hurt themselves.

Twitter is merely taking its cue from other social media platforms eager to maintain favor with the ruling class – YouTube has threatened to pull its beloved "thumbs down" function, while Facebook has been bleating about "election safety" since 2016 while handing control over political speech to a group funded by some of the world's most repressive governments and their corporate allies.

Also on rt.com The ‘Russian bots’ that weren't: Twitter backtracks on troll claims, media ignores updated info

With Facebook up to its waist in scandal, subject to a multitude of probes to rival Donald Trump and hemorrhaging top executives, Dorsey is working double-time to please his masters, even translating 228 bots from Russian to Spanish last week in honor of Venezuela's promotion to Enemy of the Moment. And the need for a makeover is understandable – Twitter has already made a few false moves under the direction of its new "conversational health" team, largely made up of pro-#Resistance academics, as it tries to position itself to guide a Centrist Democrat to victory in 2020. Deplatforming critics of California senator Kamala Harris (#kamalaisacop), or laid-off mainstream media journalists (#learntocode) has angered critics on the Left and Right, while those in the neoliberal center feel the censorship hasn't gone nearly far enough. Combined with multiple states' crackdowns on bulk-buying of followers, and the recent exposé on Russiagate-grifters New Knowledge's bot farm, the platform looks eager to achieve a state of perfect vacancy.

Helen Buyniski

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.