Nettes Portrait und Interview mit Chris Wetherell, dem Erfinder des Retweet-Buttons. Der Mann hatte vor dem Retweet-Fiasko auch den Google-Reader entwickelt und weiß ein paar Dinge über Sharing-Mechanismen. Seine Haltung lässt sich grob zusammenfassen mit: „Wir haben reibungsloses One-Click-Sharing für die Massen erfunden, das hauptsächlich zum Lästern benutzt wird.“ Sag ich doch since 2015.
“We might have just handed a 4-year-old a loaded weapon,” Wetherell recalled thinking as he watched the first Twitter mob use the tool he created. “That’s what I think we actually did.”
Wetherell, a veteran tech developer, led the Twitter team that built the retweet button in 2009. The button is now a fundamental feature of the platform, and has been for a decade — to the point of innocuousness. But as Wetherell, now cofounder of a yet-unannounced startup, made clear in a candid interview, it’s time to fix it. Because social media is broken. And the retweet is a big reason why. […]
Jason Goldman, the head of product when Wetherell built the retweet, said [that Retweet with Comment is] a key source of Twitter’s problems today. “The biggest problem is the quote retweet,” Goldman told BuzzFeed News. “Quote retweet allows for the dunk. It’s the dunk mechanism.”
Hier die Absätze über die Rolle des Retweet-Mechanismus während Gamegate, wahrscheinlich der Initialzündung der Outrage-Explosion, die wir seit ein paar Jahren erleben: „Twitter, from that moment, became an anger video game.“
In 2014, Wetherell realized the retweet button was going to be a major problem when the phrase “ethics in game journalism” started pouring into a saved search for “journalism” he had on Twitter. The phrase was a rallying cry for Gamergate — a harassment campaign against women in the game industry — and Wetherell, after seeing that first batch of tweets, watched it closely.
As Gamergate unfolded, Wetherell noticed its participants were using the retweet to “brigade,” or coordinate their attacks against their targets, disseminating misinformation and outrage at a pace that made it difficult to fight back. The retweet button propelled Gamergate, according to an analysis by the technologist and blogger Andy Baio. In his study of 316,669 Gamergate tweets sent over 72 hours, 217,384 were retweets, or about 69%.
Watching the Gamergate tweets pour in, Wetherell brought up his concerns in therapy and then discussed them with a small circle of engineers working in social media at the time. “This is not something we need to think about,” he recalled one saying.
“It was very easy for them to brigade reputational harm on someone they didn’t like,” Wetherell said, of the Gamergaters. “Ask any of the people who were targets at that time, retweeting helped them get a false picture of a person out there faster than they could respond. We didn’t build a defense for that. We only built an offensive conduit.”
Gamergate was a “creeping horror story for me,” Wetherell said. “It dawned on me that this was not some small subset of people acting aberrantly. This might be how people behave. And that scared me to death.”
Twitter, from that moment, became an “anger video game.” Retweets were the points.
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