This article was published on July 26, 2014

Why it might be time for Twitter to start filtering your feed

Why it might be time for Twitter to start filtering your feed

If you came to this article via our Twitter account, did you click the link the first time we tweeted it? Maybe the second? Or the third?

It seems that of late, publishers are losing their inhibitions when it comes to tweeting a link to the same piece of content multiple times over a period of hours or days.

I’ve noticed a particular leap in this practice since Twitter’s new Analytics dashboard launched earlier this month. The realisation that tweets from any given account get seen by a tiny fraction of its total followers seems to have hit home.

At The Next Web, we’ve been publishing repeat tweets of some of our articles as a matter of course for several months. Generally, we don’t do this for news stories – it’s for non-time-sensitive feature pieces and product reviews – but as other publishers increasingly recycle old news as new, the temptation to join an arms race of maximizing Twitter exposure through repeat tweets of news stories grows, even if that news is far from fresh on its third or fourth outing.


My personal account’s stats a couple of weeks ago

TechCrunch, The Verge and Business Insider are among those that appear to have ramped up the repeat tweets of late. For example, I’ve seen TechCrunch tweet the same news story as many as five times in two days. I don’t blame any of these publishers for pushing to get more from their Twitter audience, but others may not be so forgiving.

The problem is that seeing the same link come up again and again is annoying for any publisher’s most engaged audience members – and even their former writers:

I have push notifications set up for a number of tech news sites and in recent times those notifications have switched from offering a streamlined news feed to a being a noisy shouting match as rival publishers compete for my clicks by sharing the same content repeatedly.

There must be a solution to this. Any user should only have to see any link from any account once. Twitter can take action, and here are a couple of ideas:

‘Show any link from each account only once’: Twitter could offer an option to see a link from any account once. If you missed our first tweet about this post, maybe you’d see our second, but then Twitter would hide the third tweet from you when it went out a few hours later.

Taking things further, how about a Facebook-style, algorithmically filtered feed? Facebook gets criticism for deciding what users get to see in their News Feeds, but the goal of that filtering is to keep you coming back by showing content you tend to react to. The nearest that Twitter has to this at the moment is the Discover feed that shows popular tweets from people you follow along with others that it thinks you might like. In addition there could be a ‘best of your feed’ option that filters out repeat tweets, highlights tweets that you’re likely to find interesting, and the like.

I wouldn’t want Twitter to get too far into the realm of filtering my feed. One of the joys of the service is that it is what you make it through the people you follow. Still, there must be something the company can do to keep both publishers and their audiences happy Twitter users.

Don’t miss: Why Twitter’s new analytics could turn us all into stat-hungry engagement addicts

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