Friday, June 1, 2012

De Agony of Detweet

If you're a gaffe voyeur or a Twitter freak or both, here's another fun tool from the same folks who brought you that site showing you how to gloat over your congress critter's lousy vocabulary. It's called Politwoops, and it purports to gather up all the deleted tweets of random politicians.

It may also be totally illegal, or unethical, in that it seems to violate Twitter's terms of service. However, Twitter cops are few and far between -- and so far, nobody has expressed much of an interest in protecting the rights of that red-faced somebody who just now thought to delete a Tweet bragging about donating to Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign. According to Adweek:

Politwoops, which has existed in 12 other countries for several years, muddies the waters of privacy with regard to deleted tweets further, as the service exists primarily to hold political leaders accountable for that which they've broadcast and then deleted via Twitter. That might actually be a Twitter no-no.
See Twitter's 'Developer Rules of the Road,' second section of the page, under rule number four, "Be a good partner to Twitter", section B.
"Respect the features and functionality embedded with or included in Twitter Content or the Twitter API. Do not attempt to interfere with, intercept, disrupt, filter, or disable any features of the Twitter API or Twitter service, and you should only surface actions that are organically displayed on Twitter.
* For example, your Service should execute the unfavorite and delete actions by removing all relevant messaging and Twitter Content, not by publicly displaying to other end users that the Tweet was unfavorited or deleted."

The project, unveiled this week by the Sunlight Foundation, aims to let us all know every time a politician deletes a tweet. It doesn't matter if they erase it the minute they submit it. It is always, always too late. If mistakes were made, they can't be unmade. They made their tweet, now they must lie in it.
 The growing collection of more than 3,000 tweets in the past six months includes screenshots of included links and has individual pages for each politician. The Politwoops archive serves as an illuminating rough draft of how politicians and campaigns hone their social media messaging and amend their record. The collection includes previously-reported episodes like Senator Chuck Grassley's hacked account and other deletions that slipped by unnoticed, like Representative Jeff Miller tweeting a link to a Facebook poll asking, "Was Obama born in the United States?"
There appears to be a lag in the deletion listings of about 16 hours, so if you like your gaffe news fresh, this might not be the site for you. Just a quick glance at the latest deleted politiwoops page left me yawning. For example, redneck Texas senator John Cornyn is obviously character count-disabled, having de-tweeted the following: "Those who claim voter ID rules are 'racist' ignore fact you can't rent apt, get utilities or cash check without." 

Rep Gregory Meeks almost immediately deleted a tweet saying he had enjoyed meeting with some elementary school children, having apparently decided the session was pure torture.

And the sleazy pols are beginning to catch on that their deleted Tweets are on display for all the bored world see. Rep. Danny Rehberg wrote: "Now, thanks to #politwoops, Twitter mistakes - like government mistakes - are around for good. Best to get both right the first time." He immediately deleted the message, but too late now! His words and the words of his cohorts will go down in cyberhistory for our disdainful amusement.

(Unless, of course, Iran retaliates and infects Twitter with a blowback virus.)


Denis Neville said...

I must admit my bias (foggydom?). I am not a fan of Twitter, or Facebook for that matter.

But Twitter, it seems to me, is just a kind of social masturbation, a substitute for genuine social interaction.

Is it any surprise that Obama and all these other political yahoos use twitter? Image over substance.

Although I take delight in this project, catching the sleazy pols’ gaffes. Some are downright weird. But mostly their Tweets are pretty damn dull and boring with no substance, which in itself is defining. May be that is why they delete them.

Denis Neville said...

The "invisible hand" of our nightmare corporate dystopia - multi-billion dollar for-profit industry based on denying freedom to groups of people…the more freedom denied, the more profit.

Matt Stoller, “Profit-Driven Surveillance and the Spectrum of Freedom”:

“It’s becoming increasingly clear that the systems we’ve set up to run our society are increasingly, well, running our society….Innovation in technology and autocratic organizational forms means that there will be a whole new category of constraints on freedom. Based on what you are willing to pay, how much power you have, and your desires, our culture will begin offering extremely granular freedom zones…

“The financial engineering of component parts of freedom, and the removal from the state of the monopoly rights to track and/or restrict movement, represents a novel form of social organization. It could be nothing less than a new form of authoritarianism, a soft version in which there are political choices and a measure of openness, but a jello-like network of corporate cartels holding power. In this society, you’ll get whatever zone of freedom you can pay for, and if you can’t afford any freedom, you won’t get any.

“It’s not too hard to imagine these services and products being sold to private actors to track employees, debtors, dissidents or anyone else. The plans are already laid out. Corporations are already tracking Facebook accounts, have extremely detailed information on financial and web usage.”

“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” – Janis Joplin

Denis Neville said...

It’s a very different world out there. They used to worry about grammar mistakes. Now they worry about terrible tweet types killing their Twitter strategy: talking-heads tweets; auto-tweets (worse than spambots); sandwich tweets; troll tweets; copycat tweets; NSFW (Not Safe For Work) tweets; billboard tweets; tone-deaf tweets; vacuum tweets; eavesdropping tweets.

Then there was the very modern way to announce a very old-fashioned death:

“Utah firing squad death announced on Twitter”

Shortly after midnight, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff picked up his Apple iPhone, opened up a Twitter "app" on his handset and began tweeting: "I just gave the go ahead to Corrections Director to proceed with Gardner's execution. May God grant him the mercy he denied his victims."

Fifteen minutes later he tweeted: “We will be streaming live my press conference as soon as I'm told Gardner is dead. Watch it at”

The attorney general didn't delete those self-promoting tweets.

Susan Jacoby asks, “Was the Utah attorney general wrong to use Twitter, or religious language, to describe an execution? With all our technology, are we losing sight of our humanity? Should matters of life and death be reduced to a tweet?”

We’ve come such a long way.

Urban Dictionary definition of “tweet” – “The sound the cerebellum emits as it atrophies from the overuse of internet and texting shorthand." (Too many) 'I think I just tweeted the least important tweet ever!'

Jay - Ottawa said...

One, two, three, four ….

ive nvr playd twttr be4, bt here goz: cd it b the modratorzzz hintin we twits shd condense r cmnts down 2 tweets, short n sweet? Point takn, K.

… one hundred thirty-eight. Done. This sz ezy. N with 2 karakters left to spare.

Zee said...


Announcing an execution by firing squad via Twitter should I put this...?

"Tacky?" "Unfeeling?" "Callous?" "Indifferent?" "Barbaric?" "Thoughtless?" "Jaded?" "Inhuman?" "Inhumane?" "Contemptible?"

Yes, I think those are some of the words I was looking for.

You Go, Utah!

Zee said...

Re: Our voluntary "surveillance society:"

Came across this while going to the link provided by @Denis on the unconscionable "Tweeting" of the Utah execution by firing squad.

For those of you who want to be followed everywhere by Big Brother, or--at least--to enable the police to find your body:

Sorry, but you'll have to endure about 30 seconds of commercial time to get to the article.

Karate is great if you're young and fit. But what if you're not?

Denis Neville said...

@ Zee – re: “those who want to be followed everywhere by Big Brother”

Our new social media-powered voluntary surveillance society!

Fear the criminals more than the government. Trading freedom for the illusion of safety.

We are sleepwalking into our surveillance society by exaggerated fears.

As the barriers for sharing information evaporate, so does our freedom. We’ve become so careless as a society that we are allowing these destructive acts to become the norm.

Not to mention… the big banks and the governments of the industrialized world are transitioning us to a cashless society.

“Most people think of a cashless society as something that is way off in the distant future. Unfortunately, that is simply not the case. The truth is that a cashless society is much closer than most people would ever dare to imagine. To a large degree, the transition to a cashless society is being done voluntarily.”

“In the future, if you do not surrender your biometric identity information, you may be locked out of the entire financial system.”

Actually, we are running to embrace our surveillance society.

“It’s not all about Big Brother or Big Business, either. Widespread electronic scrutiny is usually denounced as a creation of political tyranny or corporate greed. But the rise of omnipresent surveillance will be driven as much by ordinary citizens’ understandable—even laudatory—desires for security, control, and comfort as by the imperatives of business and government. “Nanny cams,” global-positioning locators, police and home security networks, traffic jam monitors, medical-device radio-frequency tags, small-business webcams: the list of monitoring devices employed by and for average Americans is already long, and it will only become longer. Extensive surveillance, in short, is coming into being because people like and want it.” - Dan Farmer and Charles C. Mann, “Surveillance Nation”

Denis Neville said...

Thunderclap of tweets

Via Up with Chris Hayes:

Matt Taibbi, “How Wall Street Killed Financial Reform” and Rolling Stone, “Help Matt Taibbi Stand Up for Wall Street Reform”

“To get the word out about Wall Street's anti-reform push and stiffen spines in congress, we're trying out Thunderclap [], a cool new technology that lets groups of people tweet a single message together at the same time, breaking through the din and reaching a potentially massive audience. Here's how it works:

“Thunderclap, A New Tool For Amplifying Your Tweet Into a Sonic Boom,” Jeff Bercovici, Forbes:

What about us who still use the now ancient, desk-top friendly email; who don't tweet or friend or participate in any other narcissistic "social media" ego trip?

Tweets into sonic booms?

What does it look like when a world dies?

“We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.”
— T.S. Eliot, "The Hollow Men"

Zee said...


Thanks for the additional links regarding our society's headlong rush to voluntarily embrace our own surveillance.

One thing that I would like to clarify regarding my earlier remark was that I most definitely did not intend to imply that you or anyone else in this forum is eager to surrender his/her privacy for any reason whatsoever.

I chose my words poorly when trying to express my shock that anyone would care to do so, as illustrated by the BBC video clip.

Denis Neville said...

Tweets: “Ryan plan slashes deficits by $3.26 trillion;” “Romney: Ryan plan is simply marvelous.”

Spending won’t help.

Atrios, “Surveying the various things going on around the world, it's just apparent that the people who rule us can't comprehend what happens when people have no money. Hint: they don't buy anything, the economy collapses, and then the people in charge try to fix it by giving more money to rich people.”

No, austerity, if given enough time, will make things right by freeing up more free money for the job creators. “Cut to grow,” Kevin A. Hassett, National Review: “Nations that reduce spending today can do so without fearing that the longer-run growth is being purchased with a costly near-term recession.”

“We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.” - Panel Four inside the Jefferson Memorial

If the answer is "let's slash spending” and “let's lower taxes," it’s the same old coat.

Paul Krugman on a tear lately:

Krugman destroys Romney surrogate, calls Ryan plan a 'fraud':

“The plan is a big bunch of tax cuts, some specified spending cuts, basically for poor people, and then a huge magic asterisk which is supposed to turn into a deficit reduction plan, but, in fact, if you look what's actually in it, it's a deficit-increasing plan.”

And a marvelous demonstration, by Krugman, for the proper technique for the gutting and filleting British upper class twits, who ignore reality, are fact-free in their arguments as their American counterparts, and seem stunned that anyone questions their failed austerity policies:

“By the way, I think you've just given me confirmation of something that people like me tend to say, which is, actually none of this is at all about fiscal responsibility. It's all about exploiting the current situation to pursue an ideological goal of a smaller state.”

If I could tweet (but damned if I would), “Austerity isn't about debt at all; it’s about using deficit panic as an excuse to dismantle social programs”

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Sunday shows Mitt Romney picking up 48% of the vote, while President Obama attracts 44%.

Alas, “The short memories of the American voters is what keeps our politicians in office.” - Will Rogers