How to be a good armchair critic
A little knowledge can be a deceptive thing. If you see a problem in the world, and know about current technologies, you can believe you have an ‘obvious’ solution. But it can often turn out to be much more complicated to deploy than you’d ever assume.
Take Twitter’s current problem with cryptocurrency scams. You might have seen these in the replies to tweets by popular figures in the world of tech. Scammers create an account and make it look like it’s one of these popular figures. So, username ’@as9uqfahaj29s’ might have Elon Musk’s profile photo and display name.
This account then replies to one of Musk’s tweets, making it look to the casual observer like he’s simply creating a thread. The 'fake Musk’ encourages his fans to send him cryptocurrency with the promise of getting more back via a 'giveaway.’
The problem? At least one scammer has used a stolen verified account instead, as the screenshot above shows. They also used a non-standard letter 'n.’
Thinking about this problem, I tweeted
earlier: “There must be a way to beat this problem based on language patterns of what people post in replies to verified accounts.”
Then it struck me; I had a good enough idea on paper, but am I a software engineer at Twitter? Do I know how technically feasible it is for them to apply filters like that to tweets? Sure, their current solution is a bit of a hack, but it should at least reduce the frequency of these scams.
The best armchair critic is a well-informed armchair critic. If you’re going to call out people for being wrong, remember to consider everything you know you don’t know (the 'known unknowns,’ as Donald Rumsfeld might say) first. Otherwise, your argument will fall apart at the first hurdle.