Fifty bucks

Volume 3, Issue 32; 17 Nov 2019

Win fifty bucks for your favorite charity.

I block all companies that push “promoted tweets” into my timeline. They’re damned annoying. I block them for a few reasons:

  1. They’re repeated over and over again.
  2. They often include distracting animations.
  3. I almost never care about the product or service being advertised and I am sometimes repulsed by it.

Fourth, I object to someone attempting so crudely to purchase my attention. I’m a little bit sympathetic about the fact that Twitter has to make money, but I’m just absolutely and utterly exhausted with advertising. Fuck. Off.

My only vague curiosity about them is the extent to which they stand out like sore thumbs. They are instantly recognizableMy clever fiancée says this could be confirmation bias. There could be many that don't stick out; but I wouldn't know that, because they don't stick out, so I don't notice them. But I think she’s mistaken ☺. Not that it could be confirmation bias, that’s definitely true, but I don’t think I miss any promoted tweets. For one thing, they’re repeated over and over again! by whatever part of my brain is doing pattern matching on them.

If I was interested in machine learning, which I’m not really, I’d be thinking about writing a Twitter client that learns to recognize them and automatically suppresses them.

But what about the fifty bucks?

I have blocked almost five thousand accounts. Tweet me your guess about the product category of the five thousandth account I block and a link to your favorite charity. If I deem your guess closest, and you nominate a charity to which I am at all willing to send money, I’ll send fifty bucks to your charity.

One guess per person, please.

Note: because geography matters, I will ignore Twitter until I am back in the United States so you can be confident that’s where I block number 5,000. (Full disclosure, it’s only approximately 5,000 blocked advertisers. I’ve blocked a few trolls and I’ve occasionally had to unblock advertisers to communicate with them.)

If no one guesses, or no one’s guess is in the right ballpark, or if for any other reason I declare the results void, I’ll send $50 to Stop Funding Hate.


The winning tweet, if “winning” is the right word, turned out to be an entirely Cyrillic tweet claiming to be associated with some Russian branch of Google, not that I’d bet money on that. That’s so out of left field that no one even came close. Consequently, I have sent £50 to Stop Funding Hate. (Yes, £50 is more than $50, but it was easier to donate.)