Twitter: Singing in the Rain

26 December 2021 — Swiss Policy Research

Twitter: Paul Singer vs. Jack Dorsey

Barely two years after becoming a major Twitter shareholder, US hedge fund billionaire Paul Elliott Singer has managed to oust Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. For Twitter users, this will likely mean more aggressive advertising and more political censorship. How can advanced Twitter users respond to this development? Ten suggestions.

1. Use a Twitter alternative

To avoid political censorship, use a free speech friendly and privacy-focused social networkmessaging app, or video sharing platform alternative. This is especially important if you run a major Twitter account that challenges establishment narratives. To avoid getting purged by the Twitter algorithm, consider following some establishment figures or media outlets.

Twitter account suspended

2. Use an ad blocker

To avoid getting tracked and profiled, use an ad and tracking blocker on all of your devices (including cellphones). By the end of 2020, there were about a quarter of a billion desktop adblock users and more than half a billion mobile adblock users. To support high-quality journalism and dedicated authors, disable the ad blocker on their websites or donate directly.

Global Adblock Penetration (PageFair)

3. Show hidden replies

Twitter is increasingly hiding contrarian replies, pretending they are not relevant or “offensive”. To automatically show hidden Twitter replies, use the View More Replies browser extension. To do so, first install the Tampermonkey browser extension.

Twitter: Show hidden replies

4. Bypass “unsafe link” warnings

To bypass the “unsafe link” warnings (mostly used to censor “politically unsafe” websites), use the Skip Redirect browser addon (Chrome version) and add twitter.com/safety/unsafe_link_warning*

Politically unsafe: The OffGuardian

5. Hide warning labels and “fact checks”

To hide dubious “warning labels” and “fact checks” appended to Tweets, use the element picker of your ad blocker and simply remove them for good.

Misleading: a Twitter warning

7. Use advanced search

In stark contrast to Facebook and YouTube, Twitter still has a mostly uncensored search function. To search for specific Tweets or media, use the advanced search function.

Twitter advanced search function

7. Beware of bots and spooks

Twitter is notoriously infested with trolls, bots, fake followers and spooks. During the covid pandemic, various bot networks promoted lockdowns and other restrictions. In 2018, US cyber security contractors were caught faking a “Russian botnet” to influence a US state senate race. In 2019, a senior Twitter executive was exposed as a British Army psyops officer.

To identify potential bot accounts, use the Indiana University Botometer tool.

“Chinese” Twitter bots promoting lockdowns (MPS)

8. Easily download videos

To easily download videos on Twitter, use Twitter Video Downloader or a similar tool.

Twitter video downloader

9. Disable video autoplay

To disable obtrusive and distracting video autoplay on Twitter, follow this tutorial or install a browser extension to disable GIF and video autoplay for good.

10. Hide childish emojis

To hide some or all emojis on Twitter, use the element picker of your ad blocker to remove them or simply add ||abs-0.twimg.com/emoji/v2/svg/*.svg$image as a new filter rule. You will be surprised how many people have nothing at all to say.

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