Here’s How to Improve Twitter Without Deleting Likes and Retweets

There are many calls to get rid of Twitter likes and retweets in the name of “improving” user experience. It won’t help.

 

Depending on whom you talk to, Twitter users have differing views of the platform—both negative and positive.

 

Democrats and Republican users both agree that the platform sometimes resembles a dumpster fire. Our fellow conservatives will tell you they are persecuted on the platform more, and they aren’t wrong about many of its shady practices. Twitter rightfully rid the platform of some alt-right anti-Semites, but hasn’t applied this same deference and penalties to accounts in radical Islamist and Marxist circles who perpetrate the same bigoted rhetoric. Although there are some serious concerns for banning certain types of speech on Twitter, the company is private and can refer to its Terms and Conditions to restrict certain types of content. It’s understandable to remove accounts that violate rules for obvious reasons, like nutty Alex Jones, but labeling conservative speech as “offensive” in the vein of Jones is wrong-headed and dangerous. Twitter shouldn’t penalize one political persuasion and give another a pass, if they are found in violation of Twitter’s Terms and Conditions.

 

Also: Bruce Carroll, aka GayPatriot, shouldn’t have been banned either.

 

Some Democrats argue social media platforms are manipulated to favor and tilt elections towards Republicans, citing the 2016 elections. (Remember: Democrats led in digital efforts in 2008, but we are finally catching up to them.) Some have argued that Twitter shut down President Trump’s account, but even Twitter founder Jack Dorsey doesn’t believe that’s conducive. Some of Trump’s tweets are worthy of criticism, but banning the President of the United States simply because you disagree with his policies is stupid, at best. (Strangely enough, former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s tweets are embraced, despite his lengthy track record of anti-Semitism and restricting social media during his reign.) Whether you like it or not, Trump is perhaps the most social media transparent president we’ve ever had, and consequently, Twitter has been given new life as a result of him tweeting. Nevertheless, we all agree that President Trump could tweet more judiciously.

 

Twitter has been debating ways to improve user experience. While other platforms like Facebook (up until recently) and Instagram have seen steady increases in users, Twitter has lagged behind. Recently, though, they’ve had some indicators of growth. Some argue ridding Twitter of “likes” and removing retweets will foster better discussions. I couldn’t disagree more with these recommendations.

 

Here’s what ridding “likes” would entail, because a like would trigger social media addiction? More below:

 

Founder Jack Dorsey last week admitted at a Twitter event that he was not a fan of the heart-shaped button and that it would be getting rid of it “soon”.

 

The feature was introduced in 2015 to replace “favourites”, a star-shaped button that allowed people to bookmark tweets to read later.

 

Similar buttons to “like” or show appreciation of people’s status updates, pictures and videos have become a central function of every popular social media service since Facebook introduced them.

 

But psychologists have suggested that they may be causing social media addiction…

Back in March, Twitter enabled “Bookmarks” – which privately save tweets for your liking. It’s helpful to me when I search for articles to incorporate in articles and my weekly newsletter.

 

 

With respect to the case for eliminating retweets, here’s one author’s reasoning in doing so:

 

Back in March, Twitter enabled “Bookmarks” – which privately save tweets for your liking. It’s helpful to me when I search for articles to incorporate in articles and my weekly newsletter.

 

With respect to the case for eliminating retweets, here’s one author’s reasoning in doing so:

 

The quest to accrue retweets regularly drives users to tweet outlandish comments, extremist opinions, fake news, or worse. Many users knowingly tweet false and damaging information and opinions in an effort to go viral via retweets. Entire Twitter accounts have been built on this strategy. If Twitter really wants to control the out-of-control rewards mechanisms it has created, the retweet button should be the first to go.

 

Retweets prey on users’ worst instincts. They delude Twitter users into thinking that they’re contributing to thoughtful discourse by endlessly amplifying other people’s points—the digital equivalent of shouting “Yeah, what they said!” in the midst of an argument. And because Twitter doesn’t allow for editing tweets, information that goes viral via retweets is also more likely to be false or exaggerated. According to MIT research published in the journal Science, Twitter users retweet fake news almost twice as much as real news. Some Twitter users, desperate for validation, endlessly retweet their own tweets, spamming followers with duplicate information.

 

If that is the case, what will Twitter become? An obtuse, boring message thread? Twitter came to be Twitter because of tweets, retweets, and other unique features. Who would this benefit—Democrats upset that conservatives and Republicans are using Twitter perhaps more effectively than they are? Yes, the click bait and punchy tweets from activists on both sides can be a bit much. Both sides tweet obscenities and vile threats—although Democrat-leaning accounts get away with it and are never ostracized like their Republican or conservative counterparts are.

 

How many times have certain mainstream outlets tweeted false news stories, with their retractions getting fewer retweets and likes than the factually incorrect ones?

 

Want to improve your user experience on Twitter? Here’s what I recommend instead of removing likes and retweets:

Tweet with a purpose and foster civil discourse

 

Eliminating likes and retweets will undermine Twitter’s very existence. It’ll become obsolete and worthless. Instead, Twitter should encourage — not mandate — us Twitter users to lead the charge of improving discourse on the platform. Why not start with tweeting with a purpose?

 

I recently had a Twitter conversation with a gentleman about managed bear hunts. He was genuinely curious about the implications of a federal judge in Montana’s ruling about grizzly bears. I explained to him, politely, of course, that a select population of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem aren’t endangered and that wildlife biologists want hunters to help cull this herd for the betterment of the species and ungulate species. He told me he was grateful for the information and said he’ll keep an open mind. These conversations are enjoyable and productive.

 

Alternatively, I don’t respond to tweets that resort to name-calling or gross mischaracterizations. There’s a mute button for that now. Phew!

 

When I first started out on Twitter in January 2010, I’ll admit: I tweeted some rather punchy tweets about every pressing issue of the day and responded to a lot of mean tweets. I used to encourage my followers to retweet (RT) some tweets if they were in agreement. I wanted to grow my following among conservatives and replicated the tactics of the day. As I matured over the years, I learned that this tactic accomplishes little. It may bring some quick followers short-term, but doesn’t make your account unique if everyone is doing it. Now I tweet more purposely, don’t feel compelled to respond to every issue that’s trending in the news, and guess what? I think my user experience is FAR more positive than when I first started out on the platform.

 

For those of us who are conservative, be selective with what you tweet. Be strategic in your Twitter posting strategy: Don’t always feel compelled to tweet about EVERY issue.

Post fewer click bait tweets, more informative content

 

I’ve grown to dislike clickbait tweets. It’s a cheap tactic to grow follower counts and get “ratio’d” in the hopes of going viral. This tactic allows users to manipulate and conflate their influence. A lot of conservatives, sadly, engage in this cheap tactic too—though Democrats aren’t angels in this regard, either.

 

Is there a news story that is facts-based that’s deserving of attention? Tweet an excerpt and an accompanying link for your followers to click on. Did a good guy or gal with a gun deter a bad guy or gal with a gun? Post those good news stories. Did your elected officials vote for bills or policies that are antithetical to freedom? Retweet or tweet content that’s constructive and action-oriented without name-calling and threatening people.

 

Post a call-to-action (CTA) and get people inspired to participate in voting, reading, or the exchange of ideas. You never know whom you can influence for the better!

Post positive tweets and retweet more feel-good stories

 

Want to improve your user experience on Twitter? Start with some self-assessment as to what kind of content you’re posting. Is the tone of your tweets always negative? Add some positive content into your Timeline.

 

Retweet feel-good stories. Post about a restaurant you visited and the good experience you had there. Brag about that fish you caught—make sure it’s legally caught and kept or handled, of course. Post about someone interesting you met—especially if you had a civil political discussion.

 

It starts with us – Twitter users – to promote positive content. Amidst the crummy things happening in society, there’s still a lot of good in this country. Contrast the bad with the good—which exists more readily out there than one would believe!

 

We have free will and can dictate what we do. Exercise that more often in your tweeting habits and you’ll feel better about your Twitter experience. Trust me!

What are your thoughts on some of these recommendations to “improve” Twitter? Would you want to see the ‘like’ and ‘retweet’ features done away with? Should they stay? Weight in and let me know!

About the author

Gabriella Hoffman

Gabriella Hoffman is a media strategist based in the Washington, D.C. Metro Area. She has written for The Resurgent since March 2016 and serves as their D.C. Correspondent.

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