Is It Time To Rethink the Fundamental Dynamics of Twitter?

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At a TED conference, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said the social media company needs to rethink how they incentivize user behavior to combat abuse and misinformation. “He suggested that the service works best as an ‘interest-based network,’ where you log in and see content relevant to your interests, no matter who posted it — rather than a network where everyone feels like they need to follow a bunch of other accounts, and then grow their follower numbers in turn,” reports TechCrunch. From the report: Dorsey recalled that when the team was first building the service, it decided to make follower count “big and bold,” which naturally made people focus on it. “Was that the right decision at the time? Probably not,” he said. “If I had to start the service again, I would not emphasize the follower count as much … I don’t think I would create ‘likes’ in the first place.” Since he isn’t starting from scratch, Dorsey suggested that he’s trying to find ways to redesign Twitter to shift the “bias” away from accounts and toward interests.

And while Dorsey said he’s less interested in maximizing time spent on Twitter and more in maximizing “what people take away from it and what they want to learn from it,” TED’s Chris Anderson suggested that Twitter may struggle with that goal since it’s a public company, with a business model based on advertising. Would Dorsey really be willing to see time spent on the service decrease, even if that means improving the conversation? “More relevance means less time on the service, and that’s perfectly fine,” Dorsey said, adding that Twitter can still serve ads against relevant content. In terms of how the company is currently measuring its success, Dorsey said it focuses primarily on daily active users, and secondly on “conversation chains — we want to incentivize healthy contributions back to the network.”


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