Goodbye, Twitter

I had only intermittently been skimming my Twitter feed recently anyway, because I’m far enough behind on RSS, my main news source, that I didn’t want to add to it too much, and also because a noticeable and seemingly increasong chunk of my feed was taken up by complaints about Twitter itself.

And then the app broke.

I used a third-party app for nearly all of my time on Twitter, alternataing between Plume and Tweetcaster. I’ve tried out other apps, but color-coding of accounts was too useful to give up.1

I tried the official Twitter app too, several years ago and very briefly. It felt bare-bones compared to the alternatives, it didn’t have color-coding, either. It was also susceptible to occasional “timeline experimentation” (if I wanted an algo-manipulative timeline, I’d be on Facebook), it was adware,2 and then, when I only had it as a backup in case Tweetcaster fucked up, it became spyware as well.3

So when Plume had what its Play store page described as a “minor update” the other day, I thought (again, I’m not fully caught up on my news) that maybe its devs had worked around Twitter’s API fuckery. Weird that they wouldn’t spell that out, since they were already starting to get bad reviews based on their app not working, but maaaaaybe

But like I said, I’d gotten out of the habit of checking Twitter several times a day. So it wasn’t until the day after the update that I clicked on the Plume widget, thinking: “Hey, this still shows zero new tweets. Maybe it just needs to open and refresh. Or maybe there’s something else going on.”

There was something else going on. The “minor update” caused Plume to open up to (appropriately enough) a Twitter-style solemn JPEG:

Plume started over a decade ago, and today we say farewell. Twitter’s ownership has made it clear that they will not support 3rd party apps. In turn, we will not support a platform that isn’t as free and open as when we started.

We have nothing but gratitude for your patronage. We are already working on new nd exciting products. If you’d like us to keep you updated, let us know here.

Thank you for your support after all of these years.

OK, if that’s a clickable link, then maybe it isn’t a classic solemn JPEG. I haven’t tested it, though.

I don’t think I’ll be back. It’s been nine or ten years now since I used Twitter for Android, and from what I’ve heard I didn’t miss much. It has a dark mode now, and polls, and features like Twitter Spaces that I’d most likely never use, and it has its own permissions novella, which is a bad sign for a product I’d already written off as spyware nine or ten years ago.

I don’t plan on deleting my Twitter account, at least not until something like Mastodon replaces it fully. And by “fully” I mean not just “has enough accounts I think are worth following” but also “has Publicize support,” a feature that’s been intermittently requested for several years now without a positive response. But I don’t expect to post on Twitter (aside from Publicize links) ever again, and I’m currently starting the process of slowly, carefully, building a replacement social-media feed.

Now I just need to find a Mastodon app with color-coding…

  1. I used color-coding as a heat map of disinterest, to track which accounts weren’t justifying the space they took up in my timeline. The way it worked was: every time I read a chunk of my timeline, I’d shift the color on one account a little toward the red, and every time an account tweeted soemthing worthwhile, I’d shift its color a little toward blue (or clear it, if it was already blue). If an account got to red, the next step was to unfollow it.

    Sure, maybe I could have kludged something together with Twitter lists, but that would have been more work for me and would have spammed several accounts a day with “added to a list” notifications. (I don’t know when “private lists” became a feature, nor, at this point, do I care enough to find out.)

  2. I’ve complained before about Twitter’s ad-money tunnel vision.

    Yes, I’m linking to an old tweet of mine in this post. It was unintentionalaly ironic, I swear.

  3. I complained about that, too – the post was titled “Get off my phone, Twitter for Android,” which should give you the gist of it – but I did my complaining on a blog that I later deleted.
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