Reddit Bans One of Most Popular Users for Vote Manipulation

Unidan, aka biologist Ben Eisenkop, maintained five side accounts, which he used to upvote his own submissions and comments and downvote the opposition.

Unidan was almost universally loved on the site. Having participated in at least three AMAs, featured in multiple media profiles (including Mashable), occasionally appearing with Reddit co-founder Alex Ohanian, giving his own TEDx talk and even having his own fan subreddit, it’s safe to say that Unidan was, to Reddit, a stalwart and beloved community member.

Following his ban, many users have expressed disappointment and anger at Eisenkop’s clear violation of Reddit’s rules.

“This is like finding out Lance Armstrong took steroids,”user TheStarryMessenger wrote in a thread.

Reddit Bans One of Most Popular Users for Vote Manipulation

Mike Elgan: The Last Social Blogging Guide You Will Ever Need

Mike Elgan shares essential advice.

Mike and I have a fundamental disagreement on how to use blogging and social media. He blogs on a third-party platform he does not control, Google+. I did this myself until recently, but in April I started blogging here. I want to build something long-term, and I don’t have faith Google+ is around for the long term.

I have not abandoned social media. Far from it. I use Google+ and other social media for publicity and discussion. I check social media a couple of times a day.

Publicity is a bit of a dirty word, because people do spammy things for publicity. But all I’m talking about here is using social to notify people that I’ve got a new blog post up, when I have their permission to do so. Every single one of these people is someone who has implicitly asked to be informed by virtue of having followed me on social media.

Don’t want to be informed about my updates? Unfollow me. I won’t mind — not even if we’re coworkers, friends, or even family. With one exception, none of my family follows me closely on social. And that’s OK. Being active on social media is like being an avid model railroader — a perfectly lovely hobby but not everybody who stops by the house should be dragged into the basement every time they visit to watch the electric train set go round and round.

Julie does follow me closely but I try to remember to remind her a couple of times a year that she doesn’t need to feel obligated to do so by virtue of our being married. It wasn’t in the vows.

But I digress.

The essential part of Mike’s advice is sound: Use social blogging to let people know what you’re doing, what you think, and what you feel. Social blogging is not for denouncing people who disagree with your politics, or for sharing things other people created.

Mike is a purist on the sharing — he often shares other people’s content but he always has his own take on it. I’m a bit more lax; I’ll share other people’s content if I think it’s noteworthy. But really I’m more and more coming to think that sharing personal experience, thoughts, and feelings is the best way to blog.

As for politics: Five or 10 years ago I was more active sharing about politics, because I felt like Someone Should Speak Out. Now, plenty of people are Speaking Out. It’s all gotten to be noise. I’m reminded of a friend who is a very religious Christian. Christians have an obligation to witness their faith to convert others. My friend said the televangelists had so poisoned that well that speaking directly about Christianity just drives people away. Instead, he lets it be known he is a Christian and witnesses by example of living his own life.

Similarly, people denouncing other people’s politics has gotten to be an annoying noise. Mostly I don’t say anything nowadays. If I feel strongly about something — like just this morning — I speak out. Mostly I just shut up. Did some state Senator I’ve never heard of in a state I’ve never visited say something stupid and offensive? Happens every week. Price of republican democracy — you end up electing a certain percentage of idiots. And maybe the guy isn’t really an idiot anyway — everybody puts their foot in their mouth now and again.

More often, when I talk about politics, it’s about the game. When I say I think Hillary Clinton is a shoo-in for the Presidency in 2016, it’s not because I support her or oppose her. It’s just how I assess the race. (By the way, that’s something I would have said a few months ago but not now.)

The biggest mistake you can make on blogging and social media is trying to rack up numbers for the sake of racking them up. 100 valuable followers is better than 1,000 disengaged ones. And anybody who buys followers ought to have their credit cards taken away from them because they have demonstrated a complete inability to spend money intelligently.

The Last Social Blogging Guide You Will Ever Need.

By the way, did you see what I did here? Rather than just sharing a link to Mike’s article, I shared my own thoughts about it too.

Twitter looks to get value from drive-bys

There’s a confusing mismatch between headline and content on this story. But if I’m reading it right, Twitter is looking to figure out how to get value from the legions of people who see Twitter without logging in.

“[E]ven if a person is not a regular user of Twitter, they likely have seen a tweet scroll on a news channel or embedded in an online story.

It’s this type of reach that makes Twitter so appealing, though its prospects for advertising are tougher to crack.

Second Life tried to offer a similar value proposition. “In-world” concerts could only be seen by a couple of dozen people, but then the musician could post the concert video to YouTube for a wide audience. Obviously, this value didn’t drive Second Life into meteoric growth but (1) That doesn’t mean it’s a bad strategy and (2) Second Life is still standing — rumors of its failure have been greatly exaggerated.

Fighting the twits on Twitter


Del Harvey is Twitter’s vice president of trust and safety, charged with cleaning up abuse and spam. She has a colorful past.

She isn’t a lawyer and won’t say if she graduated from college. Del Harvey is not her legal name. She is secretive about her past but allows that she grew up in the South, where she spent a summer as a lifeguard at a state mental institution working with troubled youth. Her education about the dark side of the Internet came instead from experience. In 2003, when she was 21, she started volunteering for Perverted Justice, a group that posed as young kids online to engage potential pedophiles in chats. When they “caught” one, they’d post the chats along with the identity of the would-be molester. She eventually became the site’s law enforcement liaison, bundling up evidence for local police, and later, thanks to being small of frame, reprised her young-girl (and boy) decoy role on the NBC show To Catch a Predator. Her work put people in jail, and she adopted the pseudonym then to conceal her identity from exposed pedophiles. “I do a lot in my life to make myself difficult to locate.” It informs her work: She advised Twitter to scrub location data from uploaded photos to prevent stalkers from using them to locate people.

Harvey was hired by Twitter in 2008 to deal with a proliferation of spam accounts harassing early users. “Del became an encyclopedia of the weird things people were doing,” says Twitter cofounder Jason Goldman. Though she accidentally shut down the founders’ accounts as “spam” when she first arrived, she proved herself by thwarting the pranksters at chatboard 4Chan from derailing a race between Ashton Kutcher and CNN to be the first Twitter user with a million followers. Rather than delete the 4Chan Twitter account programmed to rapidly rack up fake followers, Harvey recommended silently throttling it, says Goldman, so that it wouldn’t simply be replaced with a new one. When Goldman left in 2010, his farewell advice was to protect Twitter’s brand by protecting users and “respecting their voice.” He wrote, “In case of emergency, trust Del.”

Meet Del Harvey, Twitter’s Troll Patrol

Scott Rosenberg: The Facebook mood-manipulation study is creepy because it shows the true face of Facebook

The “emotional contagion” study dramatically rips off a curtain that separated Facebook’s public face and its backstage. Publicly, Facebook woos us with a vision of a social information stream shaped by our individual needs and networks; backstage, the folks behind the curtain are pulling levers to find more efficient ways to hijack our attention and sell us stuff. (The frontstage/backstage theory sounds like The Wizard of Oz but is actually Erving Goffman’s.)

The simple reason Facebook’s mood study creeps us out

I started this blog in April as a means of maximizing the benefit I get from social networks. But over time, I find I like getting the most from social platforms while keeping them at arm’s length. That’s particularly true of Facebook.

Nope, that’s not a bit creepy

Facebook has been manipulating news feeds to make users happy or sad, as part of a scientific experiment on whether emotions are contagious online.

A face-to-face encounter with someone who is sad or cheerful can leave us feeling the same way. This emotional contagion has been shown to last anywhere from a few seconds to weeks.

A team of researchers, led by Adam Kramer at Facebook in Menlo Park, California, was curious to see if this phenomenon would occur online. To find out, they manipulated which posts showed up on the news feeds of more than 600,000 Facebook users. For one week, some users saw fewer posts with negative emotional words than usual, while others saw fewer posts with positive ones.

Digital emotions proved somewhat contagious, too. People were more likely to use positive words in Facebook posts if they had been exposed to fewer negative posts throughout the week, and vice versa. The effect was significant, though modest (PNAS,

That’s one way of making your death matter

It’s worth mentioning that your live tweets don’t have to be limited to the conferences you attend or the TV shows you watch. In fact, they don’t even have to be limited to organized events. Businessweek recently reported that Lori Kilmartin, a professional joke writer who recently live-tweeted her father’s death, saw a “significant increase in follower count as people have started to follow her updates on her father’s health.” She is also not the first person to live-tweet the death of a parent, NPR’s Scott Simon live-tweeted the death of his mother back in July of 2013; a loving and very emotional tribute.

The art of livetweeting.

I understand the desire to livetweet the death of a loved one. Although I realize the impulse would be alien and abhorrent to people who aren’t social media addicts.

And there are good tips about livetweeting in that article.

But measuring follower count at a time like that? Good grief.

I seem to have joined a movement

The IndieWeb movement is about owning your own website, while using Facebook, Twitter, and other social media to share and stay in touch with friends and colleagues. Leaders include Ward Cunningham, who invented the wiki; Kevin Marks, former VP Web services at British Telecom; and LiveJournal founder Brad Fitzpatrick, who now works at Google.

They call it the Indie Web movement, an effort to create a web that’s not so dependent on tech giants like Facebook, Twitter, and, yes, Google — a web that belongs not to one individual or one company, but to everyone. “I don’t trust myself,” says Fitzpatrick. “And I don’t trust companies.” The movement grew out of an egalitarian online project launched by Fitzpatrick, before he made the move to Google. And over the past few years, it has roped in about 100 other coders from around the world.

Initially, with projects like Diaspora, Indie Web looked to replace so-called “silos” like Facebook and Twitter. But advocates now see that’s unreasonable. “We want to keep in touch with our friends,” says Indie Webber Tantek Çelik. “It’s not practical to go live alone on an island.”

Meet the hackers who want to jailbreak the Internet


This blog is on, a hosted service, but it seems IndieWeb-friendly. The software is open source, and not only can you export your data to move your blog elsewhere, for $129 will do it for you.

This is not one of those rants against the evils of Facebook, even though it looks like it starts that way

I was much more relaxed and confident Friday than I’ve been in a while.

I stress out a lot. I fear failure. I compare my life unfavorably to the lives of others.

Yesterday, not so much. Oh, a couple of twinges here and there. But mostly I just did my thing and felt happy and satisfied. Well, as happy and satisfied as a person like me ever gets (to paraphrase a line from the sitcom Mad About You. I have found that line to be so, so true.)

One thing that made yesterday different: I didn’t go on Facebook and Google+ at all, and I only checked Reddit once in the evening. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

I don’t think that social media causes my anxieties. But if I’m feeling down or stressed, social media helps push things along. Social media is great for things that make you sick about humanity. I call it the Outrage of the Day — you know, like that basketball billionaire with his racist thing or some wingnut saying something moronic about slavery or homosexuality.

Facebook in particular is a great place to go to compare your own lives to others and find your own life wanting. Friends post that they’re going to parties, or great restaurants, or traveling the world. What are you doing? You’re sitting around reading Facebook. On the days when you’re going to parties, or great restaurants, or traveling the world, you’re not on Facebook — you’re busy doing those things.

I’m not planning to give up social media. There’s a lot of value in social media. It’s put me in touch with friends I’d lost track of years ago. It keeps me up with headline news. It helps me professionally. But I can certainly stand to do a lot less social media.

That’s one of the main reasons I started this blog. It’s a way for me to continue sharing what I’m thinking about without opening the door and letting anybody and everybody into my brain. Because I love you all but sometimes you can be a bit much, y’know?

P.S. You’re welcome to respond to this on Facebook or Google+. But I probably won’t see your response until Sunday. Or maybe Monday. Because I already did my social pass this morning and after that whole business with the dog this morning I don’t want any more stress today.

You know what’s awesome about social media?

I get to hear from old friends, acquaintances, and friends-of-friends who want me to buy things, provide free marketing services, or visit their Website! I love that! I love the way social media reduces social contact to commercial transactions!

Product lessons we can learn from Google+

I’d phrase the first rule differently: Solve the customer’s problems, not your problems.

Or to paraphrase another guy: Ask not what your product or service can do for you, ask what it can do for the customer.

Like the author of this article, I think Google+ may have been successful at what Google primarily wanted it to do. I’m just not sure about the future of the news feed, which is the part of the service I’m most interested in. That uncertainty is the main reason I’m here.

Product lessons we can learn from Google+ | Inside Intercom

“Twitter is not dying. It’s on the cusp of getting much bigger.”

Twitter should not be compared with Facebook. “Twitter is to news as Instagram is to photography.”

Here’s what Wall Street needs to understand: Since Facebook is made up of a huge number of roughly equivalent individual users, its volume of “monthly active users” is a reasonable way to measure its growth and scope. Twitter comprises a relatively small number of public figures broadcasting their messages publicly and a somewhat larger direct audience. That makes “monthly active users” a crude metric at best, since one group of users is very different from the other.

I only agree with this point if you define “public figures” broadly. It isn’t all about celebrities like Ellen Degeneres. A “public figure” on Twitter can be anybody who’s active and followed, even if they only have a couple of dozen followers. 

To further complicate things, Twitter’s most influential users do not tweet with the expectation that they’ll be heard only with the people who follow them directly. Rather, they treat the platform like it’s a one-way TV interview, using Twitter to break news, to win arguments, to build their brands, to hone their public personas. That’s because they understand that some of their tweets are likely to resonate far beyond and the Twitter app. The photo that Barack Obama tweeted when he won re-election was viewed by tens of millions of Americans who have never used Twitter. Ditto Ellen’s Oscars selfie.

Twitter is a lot like YouTube, in that some people are creators and many people are viewers. 

Don’t be surprised to see Twitter become more YouTube-like, turning its home page into a real-time news platform accessible to anyone, whether they’re logged in or not. That would expand its potential user base to include, for the first time, the majority of Americans who have no interest in either tweeting or curating their own Twitter timelines. If and when that happens, I doubt we’ll be hearing much about Twitter’s growth problem—let alone its demise.

Twitter has got a unique value proposition: It’s the real-time Internet. Its existential questions are whether it can make money off that — which it seems to be doing — and, equally important, whether it can convince Wall Street it can make money off it.