Thursday 28th of May 2020 06:20:42 PM GMT

Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) Suggested Followers Show Return Of Tech Racism It Was Known For

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(Last Updated On: January 29, 2020)

Atlanta – Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has not only allowed his microblogging site Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) to buddy-up to the worst elements backing President Trump, but its suggested followers list for a new Twitter account one might start harkens back to 2011, and a racist problem I pointed out with Google Plus. It went like this: as reported at a number of media blogs and sites of the day:

Google Plus launched a “suggested users” list yesterday. I’m not on it, and I bet you aren’t either, particularly if you’re an educator — because, well, there aren’t any educators on the list.

— Audrey Watters, Personal Learning Networks and the Google+ “Suggested Users” list

The Google Suggested User List reads like the typical San Francisco Bay Area tech firm’s view of the World: most of the “interesting and famous people” are white, and if they’re black, they’re male rappers or athletes. Hello, Snoop Dog, Chamillionaire, 50 Cent, Dwight Howard, and Floyd Mayweather!
— Zennie Abraham, Google+ Suggested Users List is Overwhelmingly White

And then, get this, in 2011, the blogger, Jon, pointed out this:

A couple of weeks go, Google community manager Natalie Villalobos asked for feedback on why people’s friends weren’t staying on G+. One of the things that came up was that it was often very hard for new users to find people the thought would be interesting to follow and engage with. There are a lot of creative ways to approach this, for example Ardith Goodwin’s suggestion of a welcoming committee. Instead, Google+’s decided to take the same approach that worked out spectacularly badly for Twitter two years ago. Will they fare better?

The early returns aren’t encouraging. Dave, Robert, and others immediately criticized the idea of a “suggested users” list and Bradley’s outreach to the Twitter elite. After Bradley responded in Dave’s comments, and then shared more details Saturday morning, Robert asked to be removed from the list. Bradley responded again in Robert’s comments. And the discussion rages on.

Now, the links to the posts written that were part of the blockquote above are now gone, and because 1) Google Plus is dead, and Read Write Web took the other page down. But overall, it means the conversation on the subject of establishing and maintaining diversity has not been kept alive via a content chain. Meanwhile, the white folks who cared enough to do something have all moved on to something else, and the folks running Twitter have become a far less self-introspective lot, with a deeper race problem. Twitter might window-dress its problem with black faces, but the overall output is worse, once again. Now, before I highlight it, let me show you what I wrote in 2011 on my blog at

The older I get the more I exhausted I am of pointing to this problem, but the one sign that the people who do this sort of thing are overwhelmingly dense, is the fact that they keep doing it: tech company managers who create these “suggested user lists” that wind up being overwhelmingly white.

The latest company to do this? Google, with its roll-out of its own list of “interesting and famous people,” for you to follow on Google +, Goggle’s answer to Facebook.

I just figured out what I like about Facebook’s social media approach that I hate about Google’s: with Facebook, I don’t feel like someone’s using their technology to put up a white-face view of what is it to be interesting or relevant.

The Google Suggested User List reads like the typical San Francisco Bay Area tech firm’s view of the World: most of the “interesting and famous people” are white, and if they’re black, they’re male rappers or athletes. Hello, Snoop Dog, Chamillionaire, 50 Cent, Dwight Howard, and Floyd Mayweather!

I guess black women just don’t exist. Or maybe Google has issues with the presentation of black women on the list? It’s certainly not because there are no notable black women using Google+ – the problem is Google doesn’t think they’re notable.

Something’s wrong, and it’s not with them, it’s with Google.

I don’t care that some idiot will sure-as-sunrise chime in something about “why do you complain” or “You blacks are always complaining.” Look, the first person to do that should be immediately subjected to a full frontal lobotomy, and then send Google the bill when it’s done.

Making statements that protect, defend, and cement this problem do no one any good. I would think Google doesn’t want to be thought of as racist, but this effort of posting a mirror of a stereotyped society for thousands if not millions to see, runs the risk of effectively branding the company as just that.

And as Google forms this racist club, studies indicate that the most common contributors to social networks are not just white, but are people of color too – 17 percent black in one survey.

What Google should have done is what any other tech company that seeks to add a “suggested user list” to its process should do: use a measuring system like as its guide. If Google followed my advice, it would have a more dynamic group that reflects who’s actually active in the social network space of which Google’s a part of now.

Then we would have a truly meritocratic process. Hard social media work is justly rewarded.

But Google didn’t do that.

What bothers me, as well, is that none of the critics of the Google Suggested User List mentioned this race problem. That’s disturbing to know there are so many culturally blind people.

I don’t personally know Bradley Horowitz, the Google honcho who tweeted this mistake for the World to see, and is explaining his rationale for it. I did try to call him regarding some questions I had regarding the Blogger platform early last year, when I managed to track down his cell phone number because I wasn’t getting anywhere with the Blogger support staff at the time. I called once, got him. Brad said he would call me back, and never did so. I didn’t call him again; I just never forgot the episode.

When your face pops up in as many different areas as mine does, it’s fairly safe to say Brad knows damn well who I am. A lot of people at Google do. I’m the black guy folks come to hate: the one who directly tells you when your behavior’s just a left turn from the KKK. The one who’s always reminding you the culture can do better, and signalling when it performs well.

The message will come in that I’m calling people I don’t know names, like “racist.” No. Let me be clear for all: I’m giving a name to their actions, not them.

To the extent my blast angers anyone, well, don’t do it again. Ok.

Knock it off. Will ya? Can you please, stop?

At this stage of my life, I don’t mind kicking some ass here because it’s just plain too much, this constant drumbeat of racial exclusion. At this point, I don’t care if I’m one against many – I’ll figure out a way to win.

What Google did was just stupid. Sending out a message that these “suggested user lists” have a pattern that’s exclusionary of people of color, and mostly blacks, tends to do damage to how blacks see themselves, particularly the young, who aren’t (yet) arrogant enough to tell someone where to stick their list.

They will grow with the idea that someone white is more interesting than they are – unless, of course, they take the “black tech track” and fire off rhymes to a beat.

Nothing against my rap friends, but that’s not for me. I sing Sinatra.

Follow me on Twitter at Zennie62.

Google Plus Of 2011, Which Was Like Twitter Of 2011, Is Twitter Of 2019

Today, what’s different is that Jack Dorsey and his Twitter support staff, after years, and I mean years, of ignoring my request, after request for a verified account – and never explaining why – elected to suspend my same Zennie62 Twitter account after making a new rule (seriously new as of September 2019) on “platform manipulation”. Now, when I read that, the first image that came to my mind was something from Inception, but I digress. The point is, I have asked this, and even went as far as to mention the problem to the esteemed Twitter Head Of Content Kay Madati at CES 2019, who said the program was on hold. Uh, this nice guy:

And sadly, Kay Matadi was a nice guy who left Twitter in late November 2019 and after just two years on the job. Given the low number of blacks in tech, and the way Twitter was leaning toward supporting Donald Trump and also racism, it’s not hard to see what may have happened. Kay’s a quality person – his departure only helps to make my point. And it also notes that hiring a diversity officer has not fixed Twitter – Jack Dorsey didn’t bring anyone black with him to his meeting with President Trump.


Twitter’s Sudden, Contradictory Actions Against Zennie62 Point To Both Irrational Support For Trump And Racism

And yes, I built a lot of Twitter accounts, and because Twitter allows you to do so, as you can see here, or just Google “Twitter multiple accounts” and read “How to manage multiple accounts”, but I didn’t use them to bother anyone, and when Twitter took the action it did, I expected, but never received, evidence to back their words and action. And for good reason: none existed.

What happened, I think, I was Donald Trump Twitter trolls got to Twitter support, and expressed anger that I blasted Donald Trump, Jr. for using a bad word on The View. Here:

And kept after me on Twitter and on YouTube, even as I posted this:

But then, the Twitter account suspension happened just two hours after I posted this response to Ivanka Trump visiting CES 2020, even as her dad declared war against Iran and killed a key military leader, leading to WWIII to be put up as a Twitter trend:

And I went to the speech, where I though Ivanka Trump “killed it” and I said so:

So, then, I did some testing, and noticed, as I have said before, that Twitter’s suggested users went back to the old racist trope of having rappers and athletes as suggested users, and not folks like Neil deGrasse Tyson, or for that matter, me back in 2012 – 2014.

And I have a history on Twitter than goes back to before my first tweet on May 16th 2007 in Oakland, and just over a year after Dorsey issued his first tweet on March 21, 2006 in San Francisco, CA:

And I was at the Twitter launch party at Mighty San Francisco in 2007 but even then, Powce was the platform bigger than Twitter. But what was cool about Twitter was it allowed for one to use it to connect YouTube video links automatically via RSS feed adjustment. By the time I was one of the first bloggers ever to cover a Democratic National Convention (2008), I had this approach down:

And CNN featured it on the iReport – which I was on in 2006, even before CNN bought it.

Now Twitter Wants To Erase Me From History, But I Won’t Let It

Look, Twitter people know damn well who I am. Rather than embrace or engage me, they treat me like some black guy they don’t want to see or hear. Well, too bad. Twitter can’t be allowed to backslide into techoracism, and it’s employees of color should not contribute to the effort. I started ZENNIE62MEDIA to make sure my story, and those stories of my clients, were seen and told, especially when the mainstream media ignored them.

Blacks in tech have been ignored for too long. Now, it’s our time. I’m happy for black media tech entrepreneurs like Morgan DeBaum of Blavity, but the base of us is still way too small. I’m building my own private idaho, but that doesn’t mean I am going to sit back and let Twitter allow racist acts of excluding people of color to persist. There are more of us than rappers and athletes (still I say RIP Kobe), there are famous cooks, directors, and engineers. Or, maybe I should make a black twitter, and call it just that?

Segregation is not my cup of tea, and settling for a regression into the racist divide of the past must be prevented.

Jack Dorsey, straighten up and fly Twitter right! Now!

Stay tuned.

Oakland News Now @OaklandNewsNow is by Zennie62Media, Inc. with CEO Zenophon Abraham AKA Zennie62 YouTube Partner, Oakland California blogger / vlogger Zennie Abraham @ZennieAbraham . Hire @Zennie62Media, Inc to tell your story.

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About the Author

Zennie Abraham
Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media

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