Before we start: I do not condone any harassment to any entities listed in this post. Please do not harrass anyone.
A friend alerted me to the fact that fxtwitter, a service that helps people post Twitter links on Discord, has just gone belly up.
It was revealed that the entity behind it was doing some shady things that had triggered a lot of their service users. Trying to access the original tweet that started this storm gives you the following message:
However, thanks to my friend, I’m able to see what the original tweet was before the entity did damage control by making their tweets protected:
So basically, they can see what twitter posts go into the system while it’s being processed and report anyone who they have a bone to pick with. Some users popped the “isn’t this a violation of privacy?” flag, some were enraged.
How did Fxtwitter work?
The general gist of it is simply that fxtwitter operates by taking a tweet URL, parsing it and then returning it in a format that Discord or another chat system can understand.
Normally, if you just posted the twitter(dot)com link, it would show a embedded version. However, if the tweet was flagged as NSFW or potentially problematic, then it would just force you to view it on Twitter after logging in.
Fxtwitter worked around it by the service retrieving the original tweet, parsing its metadata (likes, retweets, when it was posted, who posted it, etc) and then generating embed data that Discord and friends could display without any bullshit.
This was extremely useful, because on mobile discord clients, you’d get an ugly “view this on twitter” embed vs the actual image or media that someone posted.
While I do understand the developer of the service wanting to try to keep “vile shit” (their words) from going through fxtwitter, fxtwitter should have never been the piece of the puzzle that dictates what goes through its processing.
Privacy is also a concern, as there’s been an alleged admission that they have been collecting your twitter profile data when you’ve used the service.
Ultimately, what the one thing that fxtwitter should have done and only done is simply translate ugly twitter embeds into cleaner ones, compatible with other non-Twitter social media clients.
I might be tooting my own trumpet here, but I could program a headless clone of fxtwitter and have it process twitter posts without my intervention. It’s not my business to filter or sit in front of the console, looking at the tweets coming in and report ones that trigger me or are outright disgusting – that’s not the objective of the service.
The service should just do the following, and do it well:
- Listen for incoming tweet link(s)
- Upon receiving of tweet link(s) from step 1, continue onwards
- Query the original tweet link(s) and extract the metadata
- Assemble a proper embed based on the metadata received in step 3
- Return the embed data that can be displayed nicely in Discord, et al
Nowhere there should one of the steps be “filter for bad content” or “report because user bad”. If you have a problem with the content that someone posted, you should talk to the person who posted that content and work it out like adults.
It’s a damn shame that fxtwitter decided to go up in a dumpster fire, but alas, that is social media and when personal agendas and other shit get in the way of software development.
Until next time, Coburn out.
2 Replies to “RIP fxtwitter: fxtwitter shuts down”
They were entirely transparent that they were keeping logs of which tweets went through their service (which were available publicly at fxtwitter.com/latest). There’s nothing shady about that, because all the data is public twitter posts. The thing people are alleging to be shady is that the developer looked at those logs, but given they were public, I don’t see the problem with the developer doing something that any member of the public could easily do.
That is valid. A counter-question would be that was the developer keeping their own private records of the logs (despite the transparency of being able to see what’s going in and out)? If so, for what particular purpose?
With no disrespect to the developer, they could have handled the allegations better rather than doing what I call the “Oh, I can’t handle this so I’m gonna retract into my shell and private my profile” tactic. Sure, the amount of heat they got was probably an inferno, but they could have put out the flames if they made it crystal clear what they were doing rather than getting super upset and well, retracting into their shell.