Happy Independence Day!

Hi, everyone!

So, usually, whenever a holiday rolls around, Doc, the ennui-afflicted TSL Cat, writes a celebratory post.  Every year, I get people asking me how Doc, with his big paws and his lack of a formal education, can handle typing out a 500-word post.  And every year, I say the same thing: “Doc can do anything he puts his mind to!”

That said, I wanted to write today’s holiday post because I do have a very important message that I want to share with anyone who might be reading this.  I share this every year but, judging by the thunderous explosions and crackling bangs that kept me away last night, it needs to be said again.

First off, it’s great that you have fireworks but you know what?  You don’t need to shoot them off in your back yard!  GET OUT OF THE SUBURBS IF YOU’RE GOING TO SHOOT THOSE THINGS OFF!  Go out to the country and drink your beer and blow your hands off out there.  A few years ago, we actually had some drunken idiots who tried to shoot off fireworks in the middle of the street and it’s the closest I’ve ever come to calling the police on anyone.

Seriously, fireworks are fun and America’s great.  But neither one of those is an excuse for being a dick.

Secondly, remember that most animals aren’t going to be aware that today is Independence Day.  What we think of as being a celebration is going to sound like the end of the world to them.  Take care of your pets and make sure they’re safely inside tonight.  Doc’s probably going to spend tonight under my bed, as he often seems to do during the noisy holidays.  Fortunately, after about an hour, he forgets why he’s hiding and instead concentrates on trying to play tag whenever he sees my ankles.

Finally, the sounds of this holiday can bring back terrible memories for some people.  Please keep our veterans in mind before you try to make your neighborhood sound like a war zone.

So, I guess my 4th of July message is this: Be kind.  Be considerate.  Let’s be the best that we can be.

Happy 4th of July, everyone!

Shadowbanned Again, Naturally

Well, I’ve been shadowbanned on twitter.  Again.

Shadowbanning is when you still have a twitter account but, for whatever reason, twitter goes out of its way to hide your tweets.  Right now, people can read my tweets by going to my profile page or by following me.  That hasn’t changed.  However, my tweets do not currently show up under most twitter searches nor will they be found under any hashtags.

So, for instance, let’s say that someone decided to go on twitter and search for which film won the Palme d’Or at Cannes earlier today.  They’ll probably find a lot of tweets about it but what they won’t find is the post that I wrote for this site or the link that I tweeted out earlier today.  Or let’s say that someone was searching to see if anyone on twitter had written a review of the new Netflix film, Maria.  Again, I have.  And, as always, I posted a link to it on twitter.  But only those people who are already following me are going to see that link.  A random person searching for “Maria review” will not.

Why have I been shadowbanned?  I don’t know.  As you may remember, the same thing happened to me three years ago and the shadowban was lifted after three days.  From my own research, I imagine that it’s because I post a lot of links (mostly to this site) and I’ve been doing some automated tweets as my way of wishing everyone a good morning.  Here’s an example of one of them:

The Twitter Algorithm has apparently been set to treat with suspicion any account that posts a certain amount of links or which posts any automated tweet.  A human being, of course, could just look at my profile and see that I’m a very real person who talks to a lot of other very real people.  The Algorithm, however, doesn’t have to worry about any of that or any of the damage done by its decisions.  For a film blogger, being shadowbanned from the country’s biggest social network — even if it is just for a limited amount of time — can seriously and adversely effect that number of daily page views that their site receives.

I’ve been told that the best way to get unshadowbanned is to basically just go silent for a few days.  Apparently, under the new rules, these shadowbans usually only last 48 hours from the moment that you stop tweeting but they can last up to 5 days.  To me, this seems like bullshit and it also seems rather unfair but I guess that’s what I’ll do.

It’s frustrating.  Twitter says that they want to promote “healthy conversation” but this isn’t the way to do it.  A look at my twitter timeline will show that I’m probably one of the nicest, most positive people on twitter.  I don’t pick fights with people.  I don’t send abusive tweets to anyone, regardless of whether they’re verified or not.  I’ve studiously avoided getting involved in any of the political fights that have come to define social media as of late.  My only sin is that apparently I tweeted too much, I posted too many links, and I thought it would be cute to wish everyone a good morning.

I’m mad.  I’m hurt.  I’m sad.  And quite frankly, I’m not alone in this.  There are others who have been shadowbanned for the exact same reason.  They did something that tripped up the algorithm and they were shadowbanned without warning.  Tweeting at @Twitter or @Jack or @TwitterSupport, as so many people do, will not make any difference.  But you have to wonder how exactly we’re supposed to follow the twitter rules when no one knows what the rules are?

It’s easy to just shrug and say, “Well, forget twitter.  Who needs social media?”  Realistically, though, social media has become too important to be ignored or causally dismissed.  My fear, though, is that twitter’s foolish attempts to control “healthy conversation” will ultimately just make society sicker.  If you want to know why so many people end up on social media sites like Gab (where most of their interactions will likely be with Neo-Nazis who were previously kicked off of twitter), it’s because of stuff like this.

Anyway, I guess my twitter silence begins now.  I’ll be back in a few days, hopefully.

Fortunately, however, I will never be silent on this site.  TSL forever!

That too.

(And, by the way, check out this Shadownban Test, in case your curious about the status of your own account!)

Happy Independence Day From The Shattered Lens!

Hi everyone!  Lisa here!

Usually, whenever a holiday rolls around, the TSL’s mascot — Doc the Ennui Kitty — will post something wishing all of you a safe and happy holiday.  Some people have pointed out that not only are we one of the few sites to feature a cat as a contributor but also that most cats aren’t capable of writing complete sentences.  I’m not sure what they’re trying to imply.  Doc’s a very smart cat.

Anyway, for this holiday, I’m handling the honors because I actually do have something serious to talk about.  I love fireworks.  My entire family loves fireworks.  Up until I turned ten, I always used to enjoy summer trips through the Southwest, during which my father would pick up the latest in illegal fireworks.  It was fun and it taught me a very important lesson (as my father put it, “Nobody tells a Bowman what to do!  Nobody!”)  On July 3rd, the Mayor of Los Angeles attempted to illustrate the importance of firework safety by posting a video of a watermelon getting blown to bits by a firework that he claimed was the size of a stick of gum.  I watched that video at work and I literally yelled out, “That is so fucking awesome!!!!”

That said, if you’re planning on shooting off fireworks or firecrackers tonight, be smart.  Four years ago, some people who lived across the street from us decided to get drunk and shoot off fireworks in the middle of the street.  This was on a residential block and they came close to setting my neighbor’s front yard on fire.  Someone called the cops on them.  It wasn’t me because I don’t believe in snitching.  Me, I was just planning on slashing their tires after they all went to sleep.

Also, animals do not like fireworks.  Keep that in mind.  For a cat or a dog who has no idea that it’s Independence Day, fireworks are terrifying.  If you own pets, keep them inside.  If you’re driving home, keep an eye on the road for any of our furry friends who might, at that moment, be out of their mind with fear.

Also, keep your neighbors in mind.  One person’s fun can be another person’s trigger.  During Independence Day, we always talk about how much we love our veterans.  Prove it by considering what they’ve gone through before you set off those firecrackers at 3 in the morning.

I guess what I’m saying is the best way to celebrate the 4th is by not being a jerk.

Thank you and, from me, Doc, and everyone else here at the Shattered Lens: happy holidays!

Lisa’s Week In Review: 3/26/18 — 4/1/18

It’s the start of April.  Last night, I spent four hours at Easter Vigil in high heels and Lent is over.  We’re a third of the way through 2018 and I’m going to make the rest of this year a great one.  Here’s my week in review:

Movies I Watched

  1. The Apostle Peter: Redemption (2016)
  2. Barabbas (1961)
  3. Crisscross (1992)
  4. Full of Grace (2015)
  5. Gor (1988)
  6. The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)
  7. In The Arms of a Killer (1991)
  8. Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)
  9. Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert (2018)
  10. Johnny Got His Gun (1971)
  11. The Last Picture Show (1971)
  12. Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977)
  13. A Matter of Faith (2014)
  14. Shy People (1987)
  15. The Ten Commandments (1956)
  16. Wildflower (2016)
  17. Zodiac (2007)

Television Shows I Watched

  1. The Alienist
  2. The Americans
  3. Ash vs Evil Dead
  4. Atlanta
  5. Barry
  6. Brooklyn 99
  7. California Dreams
  8. Degrassi
  9. Ghost Whisperer
  10. Good Girls
  11. iZombie
  12. King of the Hill
  13. Live PD
  14. Lucifer
  15. The Magicians
  16. Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD
  17. Night Gallery
  18. Roseanne
  19. Saved By The Bell: The New Class
  20. Silicon Valley
  21. Splitting Up Together
  22. Survivor 36
  23. Trust
  24. UnREAL
  25. The Walking Dead

(photograph by Erin Nicole)

Book I Read

  1. 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen (2010) by Leonard Maltin
  2. Al Capone And The 1933 World’s Fair (2017) by William Elliott Hazelgrove
  3. A Horrible Experience of Unbearable Length (2012) by Roger Ebert

Music To Which I Listened

  1. Adi Ulmansky
  2. Avicii
  3. Big Data
  4. Britney Spears
  5. The Chemical Brothers
  6. Crud
  7. The Crystal Method
  8. Dan Croll
  9. Dillon Francis
  10. DJ Ten
  11. Etan Salomon
  12. Jakalope
  13. Knife Party
  14. La féline
  15. Moby
  16. The Orwells
  17. Panic! at the Disco
  18. Paul Orwell
  19. Peach Kelli Pop
  20. Saint Motel
  21. Swedish House Mafia
  22. Taylor Swift
  23. Tetish
  24. Thelma Houston
  25. Tinie Tempah
  26. Walter Murphy

Links From Last Week

  1. Joe Wright will be directing the film adaptation of A.J. Finn’s The Woman In The Window!
  2. On SyFyDesigns, I demonstrated how George Orwell predicted social media and shared a poem from Christina Rossetti!
  3. Over on my dream journal, I shared a nightmare, a dream about shoplifting, and a poem from W.B. Yeats!
  4. On her photography site, Erin shared a super creepy doll picture!
  5. From Horrorpedia, learn all about Bloodsuckers From Outer Space (love the title)!
  6. From the Daily Grindhouse, a look at the 1973 film version of Jesus Christ Superstar!

Links From The Site

  1. Erin presented us with the covers of Mammoth Detective, celebrated the opening day of baseball season, and wrote an open letter to ABC regarding It’s The Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown!
  2. Gary reviewed Shaft and Kill The Umpire, took a look at Summertime Blues, and wrote about the horror stars of The Ten Commandments!
  3. Ryan reviews Flayed Corpse and Other Stories, Pride of the Decent Man, and I, Tonya, along with sharing his weekly reading round-up!
  4. I reviewed a cheap little sci-fi film called Gor!
  5. Jeff reviewed Razorback!
  6. And finally, Doc had a special announcement about the future of this site!

Finally, take a look at this notification that I got from WordPress today:

Woo hoo!  Here’s to another eight years of nonstop film, book, music, and television reviews!

(Want to see what I did last week?  Click here!)

Have a great week, everyone!

Lisa’s Editorial Corner: 10 Things For Which I Am Thankful In 2017

Well, it’s that time.

Every Thanksgiving, I come up with an even-numbered list of things for which I’m thankful.  I know some people are saying that we shouldn’t be thankful for anything this year.  These are the people who say that, because they’re miserable, it’s somehow offensive that everyone else isn’t miserable.

But you know what?

Fuck that.

No one tells me what to believe or whether or not I can celebrate a holiday.  That freedom is something that I’m very thankful for!  Here’s a few more things that I’ve been thankful for this year:

  1. I’m thankful for this site.  Arleigh Sandoc founded Through the Shattered Lens in December of 2009 and, about four months later, I posted my very first review on this site.  A lot has changed since that first review.  New contributors have added their own unique perspectives to this site and I’d like to think that, on a personal level, I’ve grown as a writer since I wrote that first review.  But one thing that has always remained consistent is just how much I love doing this.  I’ve posted over 4,000 posts on Through the Shattered Lens and I’ve had a blast writing every one of them!

2. I’m thankful for our readers.  Seriously, you are the ones who make all of this worthwhile.  We currently have somewhere around 28,000 subscribers and to each and every one of you, I say, “Thank you.”  Thank you for reading and thank you for commenting.  Just as I hope I’ve introduced some of you to some new movies, quite a few of you have also inspired me to take a second and third look at some of the films I’ve reviewed.

3. I’m thankful for all of the brave women (and men) who have shared their stories in an effort to make this world a safer place.

4. I’m thankful that this was the year of Twin Peaks.  On this site, starting with the original series and extending all the way through the end of the Showtime revival, we shared our thoughts on everything Twin Peaks this year.  Years from now, we’ll still be debating why Laura screamed.

5. I’m thankful that this has been a great year for genre films.  While so many of the year’s “prestige” films fell flat, 2017 will always be remembered as the year of War of the Planet of Apes, Wonder Woman, The Lego Batman Movie, Beauty and the Beast, Split Kong: Skull Island, Get Out, It, Spider-Man, The Big Sick, Logan, and Thor: Ragnorak.

6. I’m thankful for networks like TCM, which introduce classic movies to new viewers.

7. I’m thankful for my friends in the Late Night Movie Gang.  Every Saturday night, we watch a movie.  Sometimes the movie is bad and sometimes, the movie is really bad.  But we always have a blast.

8. I’m thankful that, in just another few weeks, I’ll be able to see The Disaster Artist.

9. I’m thankful for the artists who, in this time of rampant conformity, are still fighting to maintain their own unique and individual vision.

10. I’m thankful for Chinese food.  Seriously, who doesn’t love Chinese food?

Happy thanksgiving!

Lisa’s Editorial Corner: What Does It Feel Like To Be A Ghost a.k.a. A Few Thoughts On Being #Shadowbanned

Last week, on Twitter, I was shadowbanned.

In my case, it only lasted three days.  Since that experience, I’ve talked to several people who have been shadowbanned on Twitter for far longer.  I’ve also discovered that there are a lot of people who think that they have been shadowbanned but who aren’t sure.  Since I’ve had a lot of people ask me a lot of questions about the experience, I’ve decided to answer all of them here.

What Is Shadowbanning?

For the longest time, Twitter’s official position was that shadowbanning was a myth.  Only recently has Twitter admitted to putting “restrictions” on certain users.  As far as I know, Twitter has never made official use of the term “shadowban.”

However, that’s exactly what these “restrictions” are.

Basically, being shadowbanned means that you’ve been secretly restricted on twitter.  A lot of people on Twitter are shadowbanned but they don’t even realize it.  Unlike when an account is suspended, Twitter does not send a message to let you know that you’ve been shadowbanned.  Nor will Twitter let you know when your shadowban has been lifted.  These are things that you have to discover for yourself.

What Happens When You’re Shadowbanned?

I was shadowbanned for three days and I can only tell you about my own experience.  During the first 24 hours of being shadowbanned, I could not reply to anyone.  I could send out tweets to people but they wouldn’t show up in anyone’s notifications.  Therefore, I had to hope that, when I tweeted people, they would see my tweet on the main timeline.  Anyone who follows more than a 1,000 people can tell you just how unlikely that would be.

Even after I regained the ability to reply to people, my name and tweets still didn’t show up in twitter searches.  Nor did they appear under any hashtags.  This lasted for three days.  For me, as a film blogger, this was a huge issue.  A good deal of the traffic on this site comes from people going on twitter and searching for film reviews.  As well, since 2009, I’ve been a prolific live tweeter.  Not only do I enjoy live tweeting films and TV show but also it’s also helped to bring attention to both this site and several other sites that I write for.

How Did You Know That You Were Shadowbanned?

I found out through pure chance.  Every Saturday, I host #LateNightMovie in the SyFyDesigns.com chatroom.  Every Saturday, two hours before the movie, I tweet out the link to the members of the Late Night Movie Gang.  On October 7th, when I tweeted out the links, I had already been shadowbanned but I didn’t know it.  An hour after sending out the links, I received a tweet from my friend, Steve.

Of course, neither Steve nor Janeen were able to read my reply because it never showed up in their notifications.

Suspecting that my replies were not showing up, I then sent a tweet to Jeff while he was standing right next to me and looking down at his phone.

The tweet did not show up in his notifications.

Jeff then proceeded to do a twitter search for my tweets, under his account.  None of them showed up.  When he looked up my profile, he got a message warning him that my profile might contain “sensitive material.”

(When you’re shadowbanned, your tweets will only show up if you do a search under your account.  The only way to know for sure is to either log out of twitter and do a search or have someone you know do a search under their account.)

So, When Twitter Shadowbans You, They Go Out Of Their Way To Keep You From Knowing That You’ve Been Shadowbanned?  That Sounds Pretty Freaking Cowardly.

No shit.

What Did You Do To Get Shadowbanned?

I have no idea.

This is why shadowbanning is so frustrating.  As opposed to a suspension, in which case you’re told why your account has been suspended and what you can do to prevent your account from getting suspended a second time, a shadowban comes with no warning or explanation.

My suspicion is this: Because I’m a prolific reviewer, I post a lot of links on Twitter.  My guess is that the Twitter Algorithm decided that I had posted too many links so it decided to shadowban me as a “warning.”  I’ve also read that some people have been shadowbanned after posting too many tweets under one hashtag.  It’s meant to combat “hashtag abuse,” which is when bots will post a hundred spam tweets under one hashtag.  I’m all for combatting bots but all shadowbanning is doing is making it more difficult to host a good live tweet.

If The People Who Ran Twitter Actually Understood What People Use It For, Why Would They Ruin Live Tweeting With Random Shadowbans?

For the most part, the people who run Twitter have nothing to do with handing down a shadowban.  That’s all handled by the Twitter Algorithm.

What Is This Twitter Algorithm That People Keep Mentioning?

One of the biggest misconceptions that users seem to have about twitter is this belief that there’s a group of people reading and judging every single tweet.  With the amount of people who use twitter every single day, that’s just not possible.  For the most part, Twitter is an automated service and suspensions and shadowbans are, with a few possible exceptions, automated as well.

The Twitter Algorithm does not take into consideration how long you’ve been a member of twitter or the content of what you’re tweeting.  Instead, it is simply designed to react to certain triggers — like tweeting a certain amount of links or using a hashtag a certain amount of times.  Unfortunately, no where is it specifically explained how many links are too many or how many times you can use a hashtag before the Algorithm decides that you need to be put on time out.

In short, Shadowbanning is a victory of automation over humanity.  And, since it’s an algorithm, it doesn’t have to worry about whether or not it’s inconvenienced you or treated you unfairly.

But You Were Only Shadowbanned For Three Days.  This Seems Rather Dramatic For Just Three Days…

Yeah, kiss my ass.

But Seriously…

Yes, it was only three days.  However, if I get shadowbanned again, it’ll be five days.  I’ve spoken to people who have been shadowbanned for months on twitter.  Several of them eventually had to create a new account and start over again from scratch.

For me, it comes down to this.  I was only shadowbanned for three days but I still don’t know why I was shadowbanned and, as a result, I don’t know what I should specifically do to prevent it from happening again.  Every time I send out a link to a review that I’ve written, I now find myself wondering if my tweets are about to once again vanish from twitter search.  As much as I love live tweeting Lifetime and SyFy films, I will now spend all of my time on twitter looking over my shoulder and wondering if the Algorithm is about to get me again.

What Can You Do If You’re Shadowbanned?


Oh Come On…

Okay, there are things you can do.  You can still send out DMs, which is what I did to let people know that I was shadowbanned.  I was shadowbanned on Saturday.  By Sunday afternoon, over a hundred people had sent tweets to @twitter and @twittersupport, letting them know that I was not a spammer:

By the end of the day, people were once again able to read my replies, though my name and tweets still didn’t show up in any searches.  Did all the tweets make a difference?  I don’t know but it was still a wonderful feeling to see the amount of support that I received.

I also reached out to twitter support myself.  Unfortunately, as anyone who has ever had to use it can tell you, the Twitter Help Center is a mess and deliberately useless.  They literally have a form for everything, except for what you actually need.  You can file an appeal if you feel that you have been unfairly or incorrectly suspended.  However, you cannot file an appeal if you’ve been shadowbanned.

(Of course, Twitter’s official position is that shadowbanning doesn’t happen.)

I sent Twitter Support an email every day that I was suspended.  I also tweeted @TwitterSupport several times.  I have yet to hear back from Support or receive any sort of acknowledgement that my complaints were ever received.

I’ve Heard That You Can Get A Shadowban Lifted By Offering To Spend Money on Twitter Ads…

I’ve heard that, too.  I don’t know if it’s true or not but it wouldn’t surprise me.  Money talks.

That said, I’m not going to spend money when I haven’t done anything wrong.

Why Is It Easier To Get Shadowbanned For Tweeting Too Much Under A Hashtag Than For Tweeting Out Hate Speech?

That’s a good question.  When, after two days, I was still not showing up in any search results, Jeff did an experiment.  He did a twitter search for Richard Spencer, the infamous alt-right Nazi.  Spencer and his tweets showed right up.

I mean, imagine that.  My tweets — which, for the most part, deal with movies and cats — were hidden.  But Spencer’s tweets were right there for the world to see.

So, You Support Censoring The People You Disagree With?

Actually, I don’t.  I think that banning racists on twitter would be a mistake because banning them would not make them any less racist.  It was just make it more difficult to spot and expose them.  If twitter banned Richard Spencer tomorrow, it wouldn’t make him any less dangerous.  Instead, it would make him a martyr to the idiots who follow him.  Sometimes, it’s best to let people speak and expose themselves for being who they truly are.

(If you need evidence of this, I suggest checking out the 1957 film, A Face In The Crowd.)

So, no, I don’t support censorship.  But I do support fairness.  Because right now, it’s apparently easier to get shadowbanned for live tweeting a TV show than for promoting hate.

Right now, twitter has plenty of rules but they’re randomly and arbitrarily enforced.  My personal solution would be to have less rules but that’s not going to happen.  We live in authoritarian society.  Those who aren’t getting off on enforcing the rules secretly crave someone to tell them what to do.  (The Twitter Algorithm is itself the latest attempt to control people without having to actually deal with them as individuals.)  Since the rules aren’t going away, twitter needs to actually figure out how to enforce them without unfairly penalizing people like me.

Again, What Can I Do If I’m Shadowbanned?

My advice: go outside and enjoy the sunshine for three days.  If your ban isn’t lifted after three days, go outside and enjoy the sunshine for two more days.  If the ban isn’t lifted after five days, you’re in trouble.

Sadly, just as Twitter refuses to provide a reason for a shadowban, it also refuses to provide information on how to get them lifted.  As I mentioned earlier, several people, after being shadowbanned for months (even over a year in a few cases) have resorted to creating new accounts but that, in itself, is a pain.  I have close to 10,000 followers right now.  If I ever had to start a new account, I’d have to start from scratch.  I’m sure many of my followers would follow me over but that’s assuming they knew I had created a new account.

Hopefully, Twitter will get its head out of its ass and figure out that punishing innocent users for arbitrary reasons is bad for business.  Otherwise, a few years from now, Twitter might be as relevant as MySpace.