internet

My Beautiful Robot Son

Something that has been bothering me in the past few weeks was the rise of "alt" accounts. The first was an alt Badlands national park account, but quickly other twitter accounts popped up. Their similarity being that they stood in opposition to government bodies that would be more tightly regulated in their communication under President Trump.

The flipside of this is that, of course, anyone can create a twitter account and many of the accounts seemed to be doing very little other than taking up space and attention. And, as a supporter of rebellious and resistant action against this president, I was concerned that people who shared my views may getting bad/inaccurate information from accounts that are playing at being more authoritative than they are.

 The notable @Roguepotussstaff account has backed off from claiming to be a source of "news" (if it ever could have been) and now considers itself a source of "commentary." If it's an anonymous way for employees to bash on their boss, I guess that's of some value, but it's not exactly Deep Throat, either.

But it got me thinking. Since it's so easy to create twitter accounts, why not have a little fun instead of feeling frustrated? What if a "Rogue account" was actually a robot? Or something similar to the venerable @horse_ebooks account? Something that was somehow significant and weird and unique among rogue accounts?

Thus was born, @POTUS_hugs.

As it turns out, it's REALLY easy. I followed these instructions, and after realizing how bad I am at catching stray spaces or putting double quotes when I needed to do single quotes, the thing was running in a few minutes.

The initial build included only content scraped from @roguepotusstaff. I quickly realized that handing POTUS_hugs only a couple hundred tweets was not going to be enough. You can look back at the earliest stuff (Feb 1) and they read almost like copies of the regular roguepotusstaff tweets. As a digital Geppetto, it was not enough that POTUS_hugs merely parrot, but he needed to speak with some experience. So I had to figure out how to add multiple accounts into one corpus (the collected body of tweets that the bot will cull from to make its own tweets), and I had to be selective in who I picked.

I then tried mixing together roguepotusstaff, Reince Preibus, Edward Snowden, and @utilitylimb for bizarre humor. Priebus was a mistake. His tweets are inane and it seems like 90% of them mention Hillary Clinton. POTUS_hugs just sounded like a conservative pundit. No son of mine would be a beltway pundit.

Another thing was that the funny accounts I tried mixing in generally had larger corpuses than the other accounts, so I tried to balance that out by adding in content from @alt_nasa and @alt_cdc, each of which only have a couple hundred tweets max. Being that @roguepotusstaff seems to spend much of it's time blocking people asking for proof of their identity, it can't hurt to diversify the corpus.

 

The results, literally, speak for themselves.

A beautiful moment.

A beautiful moment.

Reddit's former CEO isn't going away and has a lot on his mind

It's not often you see former CEOs heckling the current administration of a company, but Yishan Wong (the ex-ex- CEO of Reddit) appears to be active on a few subreddits and is advocating for more scrutiny aimed at Reddit's founders.

As a bit of a crash course, the past few months have been loaded with drama surrounding how Reddit manages its subreddits (the individual forums created and managed by users). One particularly odious subreddit, /r/fatpeoplehate was closed by Reddit's administrators which caused a small but very vocal uprising of people (who, in this author's opinions are idiot babies) who believed that their hateful thoughts were being censored.

There is a bit more to that story, but there a bazillion articles already written about that. Here's a good one.

Much of this criticism was aimed at Wong's successor, then-CEO Ellen Pao. In addition to being the worst person ever (according to her idiot baby critics) her gender and race also seemed to rub this rabble the wrong way.

That reign of terror, however, came to an end with founderAlexis Ohanian, (aka "kn0thing") apparently stepping in on behalf of the board and got Pao to resign.

As the dust has cleared over the weekend, it seems as though some Redditors are realizing that something doesn't add up here and that all of the vitriol aimed at one person may have been a little unfair.

While Pao has been rather quiet, Yishan Wong has taken this moment to start shining a light right back at the board and the founders who are being paraded around as the "saviors" Reddit needs.

In his recent "tour" of various subreddits, Wong paints a different picture of the protests and firings. Over on /r/askreddit, in response to a rather innocuous question "What's the best long con you ever pulled?" Yishan establishes a slightly longer narrative as to why Pao (and Wong) were ousted.

Here’s one.
In 2006, reddit was sold to Conde Nast. It was soon obvious to many that the sale had been premature, the site was unmanaged and under-resourced under the old-media giant who simply didn’t understand it and could never realize its full potential, so the founders and their allies in Y-Combinator (where reddit had been born) hatched an audacious plan to re-extract reddit from the clutches of the 100-year-old media conglomerate.
Together with Sam Altman, they recruited a young up-and-coming technology manager with social media credentials. Alexis, who was on the interview panel for the new reddit CEO, would reject all other candidates except this one. The manager was to insist as a condition of taking the job that Conde Nast would have to give up significant ownership of the company, first to employees by justifying the need for equity to be able to hire top talent, bringing in Silicon Valley insiders to help run the company. After continuing to grow the company, he would then further dilute Conde Nast’s ownership by raising money from a syndicate of Silicon Valley investors led by Sam Altman, now the President of Y-Combinator itself, who in the process would take a seat on the board.
Once this was done, he and his team would manufacture a series of otherwise-improbable leadership crises, forcing the new board to scramble to find a new CEO, allowing Altman to use his position on the board to advocate for the re-introduction of the old founders, installing them on the board and as CEO, thus returning the company to their control and relegating Conde Nast to a position as minority shareholder.
JUST KIDDING. There’s no way that could happen.
— Yishan Wong

[Reddit]

What started as revolt was really a coup, according to Wong.

Ohanian has spoken up and responded only with the coolest concern.

It saddens me to hear you say this, Yishan.
I did report to her, we didn’t handle it well, and again, I apologize.
edit: I can’t comment on the specifics.
— Alexis Ohanian (/u/kn0thing)

[source]

Your humble blogger has no idea what this all actually means for the rest of the site but it certainly brings things into perspective a little. All of these people getting riled up and hateful in the interest of serving a rather limited backdoor deal to re-establish the founding Reddit team at the helm of their flailing "state."

I feel like I may have seen that before...