The noise on Twitter makes it very difficult for the average user to build a targeted following and be read. To remove the noise and make it easier for users to find content they are interested in and be found by other people interested in what they do, 2 simple changes will suffice:
- Remove the “follows you” sign that appears when a user is watching the timeline of another user that follows them (see Instagram);
- Put a limit on the maximum number of people each user can follow (see Instagram).
The core issue with Twitter today is that people don’t use it in the way it is supposed to be used, people don’t look at their timelines and don’t read the tweets produced by those they follow. Not because they don’t want to, but because Twitter is structured in such a way that generates the wrong type of incentive . Ever got mad because someone didn’t follow you back? I bet you did, and you probably unfollowed them too after waiting for a while. Ever followed someone just because they followed you? You probably did this too, because you know how it feels when someone doesn’t follow you back. Or, as it happens most of the time nowadays, you probably followed them back because you know they might be using apps that automatically list you as someone who hasn’t followed you back leading to an unfollow. And you don’t want to lose a precious follower, even if they tweet about stuff unrelated to your field. In the end, this leads to one more unwanted tweet per unit of time on your timeline (one unit of noise). The average Twitter user follows thousands of people just because they followed him/her and they don’t want to lose a follower. This ultimately leads to thousands of units of noise on people’s timelines just so that they can inflate their followers count.
If Twitter removes the “FOLLOWS YOU” icon and bans applications from reading who has followed back then this toxic incentive would be removed and the Twitter community would be much healthier. People would finally follow based on interest, and the most competent would prevail.
The second fix required to decrease noise is to put a limit on the maximum number of people each user can follow. Because if someone is following more than 1000 people, they are basically reading nobody’s tweets. How could they if hundreds of new tweets are loaded on their main feeds every hour?
Increasing the tweets’ character limit will not solve the issue but will be just another hole in the water and will also kill one of the features that make the healthy side of Twitter so useful and unique today.