When Algorithms Attack (Twitter Edition)


This morning Piet de Visser put out a Tweet to this short film.

It’s a work of fiction, but it’s all about the level of privacy we’ve given up without even knowing it, due to the real life collaborations between companies (Amazon, Google etc.) and institutions like the police and the NHS. In the film, algorithms take that data to make judgements about people. It’s well worth a watch…

Roger MacNicol replied Piet’s tweet saying it was very good, and I replied to the pair of them saying the following.

When Algorithms Attack

Very soon after tweeting this I was kicked out of Twitter. When I tried to get back in I was directed to a page that forced me to delete the tweet and told me I was going to be blocked from tweeting for 12 hours. I can still read tweets and DM. I just can’t tweet. I also received an email about it.

My first reaction was to burst out laughing for a couple of reasons.

  1. I was commenting about a film where algorithms were making judgements about people and their actions without taking context into account.
  2. I think anyone who follows me on Twitter knows my views on COVID-19 and vaccinations. I am very much in favour of vaccinations, and I’m not at all a believer in conspiracy theories surrounding any vaccination, including the COVID-19 vaccinations. I’ve had both my shots of the Pfizer vaccinations. I guess Twitter should know that because I tweeted about it.

Now clearly in isolation that tweet looks like I’m one of those folks I’m always complaining about, but looking at my history of tweets you would know I often reply to things with shit-posts and don’t always include smilies when I’m doing it. I think I wear my views on my sleeve, so I don’t really worry about people taking a single tweet out of context, but clearly the Twitter algorithm is another matter…

The algorithm isn’t very smart and just appears to flag up specific word combinations. OK. Nice AI Twitter! πŸ™‚

What am I going to do about it?

Nothing, stupid! Twitter can play by whatever rules they want. I’ve just got to wait 12 hours before I can resume shit-posting on Twitter. πŸ™‚

I guess the only thing that is annoying is I can’t post a message to say I’m blocked from tweeting. It would be kind-of nice if I could do that. Having said that, I’m on holiday today and I could easily waste all day talking crap on Twitter, so they’ve probably done me a favour! πŸ™‚

In conclusion, we are all doomed! πŸ™‚



PS. I once received a 12 hour ban when arguing with an anti-vaxer. I think the combinations of words in my tweets flagged me as one of those nutters. About 5 minutes later my account was unblocked, so I think maybe a human was doing some sanity checking at the time, or maybe the AI got smarter. πŸ™‚

PPS. The 12 hours is now up…

Author: Tim...

DBA, Developer, Author, Trainer.

3 thoughts on “When Algorithms Attack (Twitter Edition)”

  1. Hey Tim, I guess we better just Laugh at it all, at the moment.

    But the subtle warning is .. these things are going to take over, slowly, but in-escapably. There are online-discussions where I already “hold back” for this kind of reasons.

    All the more the importance of meeting in-person occasionally. And when we do meet: find a place with lots of background-noise so we can make jokes about BillG, DonT, Alex-de-Pff… and exchange info without being overheard.

  2. Przemek: It’s a work of fiction, but based on the real collaborations that are happening. I should probably make that more clear.

Comments are closed.