Wednesday September 19, 2018
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Twitter Wants to Revamp Its ‘Core’, Worried About The Outcome

Twitter may not have to reinvent itself completely to improve.

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The Twitter logo appears on a phone post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.. VOA
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After long resisting change, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey wants to revamp the “core” of the service to fight rampant abuse and misinformation. But it’s not clear if changing that essence — how it rewards interactions and values popularity — would even work.

Though Dorsey was scant on details, what is certain is that the move will require huge investments for a company that doesn’t have the same resources that Google and Facebook have to throw at the problem. Any change is likely to affect how users engage with Twitter and hurt revenue, testing the patience of both users and investors.

“Social networks have a history of … well-intentioned but badly designed efforts to fix this,” said Nate Elliott, principal at marketing research firm Nineteen Insights.

Twitter isn’t alone in having to deal with hate, abuse, misinformation and bad actors using the service for elections interference, targeted harassment and scams. And Twitter isn’t alone in proposing fixes that don’t get to the heart of the problems.

Case in point: Facebook. After Russian trolls were found to have used Facebook to interfere with the 2016 U.S. elections, including by purchasing ads, the company spent a lot of time and energy building a tool that shows who’s behind political advertisements. But Elliott said it’s not even clear which ads on Facebook are the ones causing problems around foreign elections meddling. In 2016, Russian agents weren’t so much running political ads for or against candidates but rather social ads on divisive such as gun control and immigration.

But like Facebook, Twitter has to try — or at least be seen as trying.

Dorsey told The Washington Post that Twitter had not considered changing the core of the service until now. Like Facebook and others, Twitter has been accused of tinkering around the edges, tweaking policies and hiring masses of moderators when what’s really needed is a fundamental shift in how they work and how they make money in order to survive. While many former executives and other insiders have proposed radical shifts at major social networks, it’s rare for a sitting CEO to propose something as drastic as revisiting the foundation that his company is built on.

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Twitter isn’t alone in having to deal with hate. Pixabay

“We often turn to policy to fix a lot of these issues, but I think that is only treating surface-level symptoms that we are seeing,” Dorsey said.

Twitter confirmed Dorsey’s comments to the Post, but declined further comment.

Revamping the core could mean changing the engagement and rewards designed to keep users coming back — in the form of seeing their tweets liked, responded to and retweeted, and seeing their follower counts grow. It’s the tiny dopamine hits we get with each like that makes us feel better and keeps us returning for more. Take that away, and users might not want to return. In turn, advertisers might stay away, too, as they rely on monthly and daily user numbers, as well as user interactions, to gauge how well their ads work and how much to spend.

Unlike Facebook, Elliott said, Twitter doesn’t have billions of users to absorb any hits on user growth. Even if the changes work, he said, “it’s going to cost them so many users and so much money I can’t imagine them sticking with these kinds of changes.”

Paul Verna, an analyst with research firm eMarketer, also isn’t “terribly optimistic” that Twitter can make its service safer without hurting its business. The same goes for Facebook, and YouTube.

“Because they rely on an advertising business model, they need to not only continue to reach audiences, but try to get them to spend as much time on platforms as possible,” he said. “That creates an inherent tension between your business needs and being a good citizen.”

Also Read: Slow Disclosure of Tesla Raising Governance, Social Media Concerns

That said, Twitter may not have to reinvent itself completely to improve. Elliott said better policies might go a long way toward reducing the abuse. For example, it’s currently OK to harass someone on Twitter, as long as it’s not harassment based on certain categories such as gender and sexual orientation. Elliott said Twitter may just need to prohibit all harassment. (VOA)

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Twitter Announces to Revert its Timeline Into A Pure Chronological Feed

Twitter has updated the "Show the best Tweets first" setting

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Twitter revives pure chronological timeline for over 300 mn users. Pixabay

Giving its over 336 million users more control, Twitter has announced that it will completely revert their timeline into a pure reverse chronological feed.

The micro-blogging platform in 2016 announced that it will only show “most important tweets” and stop the most recent tweets first which irked many users.

In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Twitter announced that in the coming weeks, it will start testing a “way to switch between a timeline of tweets that are most relevant for you and a timeline of the latest tweets”.

“We’ve learned that when showing the best Tweets first, people find Twitter more relevant and useful. However, we’ve heard feedback from people who, at times, prefer to see the most recent tweets,” said Twitter.

“Our goal with the timeline is to balance showing you the most recent tweets with the best tweets you’re likely to care about, but we don’t always get this balance right,” it added.

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The logo for Twitter is displayed above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. vOA

This is how it will work.

Flip on the feature in your settings from the iOS or Android Twitter app.

When you open Twitter after being away for a while, the tweets you’re most likely to care about will appear at the top of your timeline — still recent and in reverse chronological order.

The rest of the tweets will be displayed right underneath, also in reverse chronological order, as always.

“At any point, just pull-to-refresh to see all new tweets at the top in the live, up-to-the-second experience you already know and love,” said Twitter.

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Twitter on a smartphone device. Pixabay

“We’re working on making it easier for people to control their Twitter timeline, including providing an easy switch to see the most recent tweets,” said Twitter Product Lead Kayvon Beykpour.

Twitter has updated the “Show the best Tweets first” setting.

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“When off, you’ll only see tweets from people you follow in reverse chronological order. Previously when turned off, you’d also see ‘In case you missed it’ and recommended tweets from people you don’t follow,” it noted. (IANS)