What the Four Pins drama says about Twitter as a company

Twitter as a company

The account, best known for memes about menswear and the internet-savvy but “swagless” kids who foam at the mouth upon each announcement of a new limited-edition sneaker, has a few claims to fame: It was first to notice Jonah Hill getting “fit”; first to pay careful attention to the California streetwear evolution of early-aughts relic John Mayer; and, quite simply, the most thorough and diligent chronicler of the rise of a streetwear-obsessed subculture that was once relegated to Reddit and is now covered in Vogue.

It disappeared from Twitter for a little less than a month, starting in mid-December — seemingly out of chances to stop posting unlicensed photographs of celebrities. Then CEO Jack Dorsey, reportedly, personally brought it back. The internet rejoiced.

But you don’t have to be interested in Supreme or Simpsons reaction GIFs or even style in general to care about the @Four_Pins journey. This drama says enough about life on our capriciously run dominant platforms, before it says anything in particular about fashion. And the blip of a conflict is a reminder of how Twitter operates — by whim, and in secret — who has influence over it, and what Jack Dorsey cares about.

 

Complex failed to monetize the Four Pins website, but the Four Pins Twitter account was a hit all along. In December 2015, after Four Pins’ pending closure was unceremoniously revealed in the middle of a New York Times story about an internet-y Italian menswear store on the Upper East Side, Schlossman tweeted, “chill fam the twitter isn’t going anywhere it’s not like any of u literally read the site more than once lmao.”

It only got bigger after the site stopped existing, accruing hundreds of thousands of new followers in the past two years — partly because the jokes were funny, but largely because it was in the right place at the right time, and because everyone loves a chaotic, disembodied troublemaker. Oddly, although Schlossman never denied receiving a small monthly fee from Complex to keep the account running and took credit for the account in his personal Twitter bio, “Who runs Four Pins?” became its own persistent meme, as documented by Dave Infante for Mel Magazine earlier this year. It just seemed like there must be some omnipotent, mannerless menswear god behind the keyboard.