Tag Archives: parody accounts

The Rationale Behind Twitter’s Suspension Spree: Duplicate Content & Twitter Newbies Among Your Followers

A Twitter purge of (big) parody accounts is proceeding at breakneck speed which has thrown users into confusion and dealt Twitterpreneurs a severe blow.  This comes right after Twitter’s Q2 Report, where it beat revenue estimates (+60% year-to-year) but was followed by cautious comments pertaining user growth. We think that the suspension spree is part of Twitter’s strategy to become more accessible.

Twitter is a public company and as such its main concern is that of delivering value to its shareholders. Share price, in general, is affected by a multitude of factors, on top of which  sits company’s financial performance (or its ability to make money). In TWTR’s (Twitter’s stock symbol) case, as with other social networks, investors have bet heavily on its growth potential because so far, Twitter has actually been losing money. But shareholders buy shares hoping to turn a profit by reselling them in the future at a higher price. This means that Twitter’s main mission is to fulfill the potential it has been stating to have, both in terms of user growth and cash flow. The latest report shows that although Twitter might be getting better at monetizing, user base growth has slowed down. Twitter’s CFO Anthony Noto remarked that Twitter is still too difficult to use and its main challenge as of now remains that of reaching the mass market. This caused a sell off that led to a 7% dip in share price that day only. In the weeks that followed a lot of analysts questioned Twitter’s growth potential and its management’s ability to turn a cryptic duck into a beautiful swan.

So far, Twitter’s reaction to all this has amounted to changes in their board on one side and a suspension spree on the other. While Twitter C-suite/boardroom drama is meant to send investors a message that the company is changing course, account suspensions come from Twitter’s product team who, as Noto’s remarks suggest, must have been told to make the social network more accessible and more engaging.

Going back to our initial question pertaining suspensions, we believe that it is safe to say that these are not part of a direct assault by Twitter on publishers or Twitterpreneurs. In other words, Twitter is not suspending accounts because they are being monetized (unless you are selling retweets which is clearly banned by by Twitter’s rules).

In addition to that we can also conclude, from last months’ developments, that these suspensions must be Twitter’s product team answer to Noto’s call for a more accessible and easy to use social network. But what is actually wrong with the accounts Twitter is suspending and how do they affect engagement?

The Echochamber Trap

Twitterpreneurs are a good thing for Twitter but, unfortunately, not all Twitterpreneurs are good, most are just lazy. They are lazy, incapable of producing new content and engage in aggressive practices where content quality doesn’t even matter anymore, engagement comes from excessive exposure and conversion rates are more diluted than ever.

We all know that guy that creates a new account every day, copies tweets/content from around the Twittersphere, retweets such tweets aggressively on hundreds, even thousands of profiles through Twitter teams and builds a following consisting mainly of users that have only recently joined Twitter. The reason why, in the end, gullible newbies are over-represented in the following of such accounts is that seasoned users have developed filters and can spot fake/copied content pretty easily.

Let’s consider a newbie, @NEWTOTWITTER, who follows a low quality account (@SPAM1) that uses teams. Chances are that @NEWTOTWITTER will follow other accounts in the same team (of whose existence they are totally unaware in most cases) leading to the gradual build-up of echochambers around him. With time though @NEWTOTWITTER probably begin to spot duplicate content and eventually starts looking for a way out. In an attempt to eliminate @SPAM1’s annoying/spammy/duplicate tweets from their home feed they will unfollow @SPAM1. But chances are that @SPAM1 tweets will keep popping up on @NEWTOTWITTER’s timeline as retweets by other accounts in any of the teams @SPAM1 may have access to. So to get rid of @SPAM1’s annoying tweets the user will have to unfollow all accounts that are in the same teams as @SPAM1 , which will take a while as well since he/she will have to wait and see who retweets @SPAM1. But then some of those who retweet @SPAM1 might be other newbies who haven’t realized yet that @SPAM1 simply copies content. So in the end @NEWTOTWITTER ends up trapped inside an environment which he/she finds annoying and irritating. This definitely kills their propensity to engage with tweets and to even check their home feed altogether.

It should be obvious at this point why/how duplicate content leads to echochambers that kill engagement, slow down user growth and why Twitter’s product team thinks that cracking down on them will improve the social network’s accessibility.

Conclusion

Twitter’s recent suspension spree is part of Twitter’s product team strategy for a more accessible and easy to use social network. This follows Noto’s warning on user growth where he denounces Twitter as “too difficult to use”. We believe that Twitter’s screening mechanism goes after accounts that have a disproportionately high percentage of users who joined Twitter recently among their followers. For example, if on average less than 5% of a Twitter account’s followers joined twitter less than a month ago but over 40% of the followers of the account @CHECKITUP consist of users that signed up on twitter less than 1 month ago then the content quality (whole activity?) of @CHECKITUP is assessed and it is suspended if found to have copied most (percentage of copied tweets threshold?) of their tweets or to have infringed any of the twitter rules (selling retweets or IDs if done in DMs etc).