Monday, July 12, 2010

Twitter Police

I've been snickering at this one for a while: some Twitter users take it upon themselves to correct the spelling, capitalization, and grammar of other posters.

“It would be kind of nice if people cleaned up their grammar a little bit and typed in lowercase, and made the Internet a little bit smarter,” said one of them, Nate Fanaro, a 28-year-old computer programmer in Buffalo, whose Twitter handle is CapsCop.

Last October, Mr. Fanaro wrote a simple program that detects tweets written in capital letters and automatically sends one of several snappy responses, like “This isn’t MySpace so maybe you should turn your caps lock off.” So far, he has issued more than 130,000 of these helpful reminders, including at least 205 to one particular user, a woman in Singapore. (Oddly, with little effect.)

“Some people don’t really understand that it’s just not good Internet etiquette” to type in all capital letters, Mr. Fanaro said.

Yes, he and the other Twitter cops do get quite a backlash, much to their delight. Mr. Fanaro posts a phone number on his Twitter profile page, and his voice mail is full of death threats and foulmouthed rants. For laughs, he sometimes takes his phone to a bar and plays the messages for his friends.

Good luck, guys. That stuff's been in decline ever since the internet expanded itself from just the nerds and geeks. (And as a nerdy geek, sometimes I miss those days, but most days I'm glad everything else has expanded, too - meaning it's easier to do research.)


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