They're too busy dancing to burn the TikTok heretic

Accountability for my TikTok Heresy

Plus some explanation of why social platforms go bad, and how the FT’s Mastodon experiment died.

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Defending the case against TikTok

One of the things I miss about the old days of blogging is the collegiate feel, the discussion between sites, and the sense of dialogue. And so, it was a delight to be invited back on The Addition podcast by Charlotte, to defend my aberrant views on things like TikTok and Substack.

It was a great conversation, and I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed recording it:

Here’s What Publishers Need to Give up in 2023
Listen now (35 min) | Some of these are controversial...

How social networks become traps

One thing I think people missed in the piece that I was defending to Charlotte was that when I described TikTok as an attention roach motel, I wasn't just talking about how hard it is to get traffic out. (This is entirely my fault, looking at the way I phrased it. I'll rewrite that once this is done.) It's also about the way that these platforms evolve over time to become traps, even for those who are successful on them — possibly especially those people.

Cory Doctorow has written a blistering screed about how this happens and just why it's such an issue:

This is enshittification: surpluses are first directed to users; then, once they're locked in, surpluses go to suppliers; then once they're locked in, the surplus is handed to shareholders and the platform becomes a useless pile of shit. From mobile app stores to Steam, from Facebook to Twitter, this is the enshittification lifecycle.

You can read the whole thing at his site:

Pluralistic: Tiktok’s enshittification (21 Jan 2023) – Pluralistic: Daily links from Cory Doctorow

Or, if you prefer, it's also on Wired:

The ‘Enshittification’ of TikTok
Or how, exactly, platforms die.

The FT kills its Mastodon server

Did you know that the Financial Times had set up its own Mastodon instance? No, I didn't either. Well, its brief life is over, killed by management problems in more than one sense. Yes, the technical side of running it became an issue. But the senior management weren't delighted by this rogue experiment.

This paragraph made me laugh like a drain:

Compliance, security and reputational risks are substantial and evergrowing in unpredictable ways. Though largely hypothetical, these risks were judged serious enough to exercise management at the highest levels. Those people have better things to do than to clean up our mess.

Believe you me, as some one who spent the latter part of the 2000s launching and managing online communities for a publisher, management never want to do it. It involves ceding control to the readers in a way that they're just not comfortable with.

You can read the whole tale here - but, be warned, you need to be registered to read it:

We tried to run a social media site and it was awful
Extinction looms for FTAV’s Mastodon presence
My quiet little instance is still up and running, by the way. You can join in here, if you fancy it… 


Plug corner

We have new dates for my new(ish) social media course. It's five weeks, online. The first run went really well. The second will be even better.

Sign up here:

Essential social media skills for media professionals
This four-session online course will provide you with understanding of the psychological and technical dynamics of social media and help you develop strategies that will deliver results into the future

Why do so many journalists not understand gaming?

A reminder: gaming is bigger than music and video combined in the UK. Why are journalists still writing nonsense like the above?


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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.