Category Archives: Twitter

Twitter Improved its Mute Feature



Twitter iconTwitter has a big problem with online abuse. In response, Twitter appears to have acknowledged this and has made some improvements. It announced this in a blog post titled “Progress on addressing online abuse”.

Twitter has improved its mute feature. The mute feature allows a user to mute accounts that they don’t want to see tweets from. Twitter has now expanded mute so that it functions in notifications. The improved mute feature will enable you to mute keywords, phrases, and even entire conversations that you do not want to see notifications about. The expanded mute feature will be rolled out to all users in the coming days.

In the blog post, Twitter points out that their hateful conduct policy prohibits conduct that targets people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability or disease. Twitter has improved how to report that type of behavior.

Today we’re giving you a more direct way to report this type of conduct for yourself, or for others, whenever you see it happening. This will improve our ability to process these reports, which helps reduce the burden on the person experiencing the abuse, and helps strengthen a culture of collective support on Twitter.

In addition, Twitter has retrained all of their support teams on their policies, including special sessions on cultural and historical contextualization of hateful conduct, and implemented an ongoing refresher program. Twitter also improved its internal tools and systems in order to deal more effectively with this conduct when it is reported to them.


Twitter Rolls Out Read Receipts on Direct Messages



Twitter iconTwitter is rolling out something new in its Direct Messages feature. When this feature is fully rolled out, it will enable anyone on Twitter who sends another user a Direct Message a read receipt – letting the sender know when (or if) the receiver read the DM. Do we really need this on Twitter?

The Twitter information about Direct Messages explains the read receipt addition this way:

Direct Messages feature read receipts so you know when people have seen your messages. When someone sends you a Direct Message and your Send/Receive read receipts setting is enabled, everyone in the conversation will know when you’ve seen it. This setting is enabled by default but you can turn it off (or back on) through your settings at any time. If you turn off the Send/Receive read receipts setting, you will not be able to see read receipts from other people.

The same information page has instructions about how to turn off the Send/Receive read receipts setting if you don’t want to use it. Turn it off, and you won’t get a read receipt message when you send a DM to another Twitter user. It is unclear if those other people, who have decided to leave the Send/Receive read receipt messages feature on, will still be able to tell when you have read their DM.

Do we really need a read receipt feature on Twitter? Is anyone actually sending Twitter Direct Messages that are so vitally important that they must know the instant the other person reads it?

People who need to connect with co-workers that live in across the country, or around the world, from them tend to use Slack. Everyone can see what the group has been talking about on Slack and respond to it whenever they see it. If you need to set up a meeting, it’s fairly easy to get everyone on Skype at the same time and have a discussion together. Why is Twitter trying to re-invent the wheel when we already have at least two functional wheels?

The Verge points out that the new read receipts feature could suggest that Twitter is working on making its Direct Messaging service have the capabilities of a standalone chat app. That’s a reasonable assumption.

The problem is that Twitter’s chat app will have limitations the other chat apps do not. People leave Twitter because Twitter has a huge problem with harassment. You might find that using Slack, Skype, or another chat app lets you connect to more people than Twitter can.

 


You Can Now Follow 5,000 Accounts on Twitter



Twitter logoTwitter has increased their current follow limit from 2,000 to 5,000 accounts. This increased follow limit is applicable to all Twitter users. Those of you who have been longing to follow several thousand more Twitter accounts can now go ahead and do so.

Personally, I don’t see the appeal of being able to follow 5,000 people. I’m following less than 300 Twitter accounts, and every so often it feels like too much and I start whittling that number down (for my own sanity). I suspect that brands who use Twitter will take advantage of the increased follow limit to connect with more potential customers.

Twitter announced this change in the form of a tweet on their @Support account. Of course, they did. Where could possibly be a more appropriate place to put this sort of announcement?

There are some limitations to be aware of. Twitter takes a look every user’s “ratio of followers to following”. Every user can now follow 5,000 accounts. Some users can follow more.

For example, if you are only followed by 100 accounts, Twitter will not let you follow 10,000 accounts. Twitter will let you know when you hit your limit by showing you an error message. Later, when more accounts are following you, Twitter will allow you to follow more accounts. The purpose of this limitation seems to be to prevent spam accounts from putting a strain on the site.


Relay Makes it Easy for you to Shop on Twitter



Twitter logoWe’ve all seen people with their eyes glued to their phones, possibly on Twitter, while they are out shopping. Now, you can shop while you are tweeting (or, at least while you are looking at Twitter). Relay makes it easier for shoppers to buy products advertised on Twitter. It also makes it easier for people to sell products via Twitter.

Relay is an API for stores to publish their products and for apps to read them. It was launched by Stripe. The goal is to make people’s online shopping experience as simple as possible. Relay was designed to solve a problem that mobile users face when trying to shop online. Stripe describes the problem this way:

Today, mobile e-commerce websites aren’t working: Ten-step shopping carts, mandatory account signup , slow page loads. When we get linked to a shopping cart on our phone, we usually just give up. That shouldn’t be surprising – most mobile shopping sites are fundamentally the same as the desktop sites that preceded them, despite the medium calling for something completely different.

The result has been predictable. Despite mobile devices representing 60% of browsing traffic for shopping sites, they only make up 15% of purchases.

Warby Parker promoted ad with buy button

You can try the Relay system out on Twitter. The next Promoted Tweet you see could have a “Buy” button. Click that button, and it will automatically take you to a page where you can purchase the product. The process of shopping on Twitter just got a lot more streamlined!

Stores can use Relay to enable instant purchases in third-party mobile apps (such as Twitter). It is also possible for an independent person to submit their products to be shown in apps like ShopStyle and Spring. Ideally, this can help small businesses, artists, or musicians, to avoid losing sales because people found it to frustrating to go from Twitter to the seller’s main website.


Twitter Aims Toward More Diversity



Twitter logoTwitter announced their commitment to a more diverse work force. Information was posted by VP, Diversity and Inclusion, Janet Van Huysse, on the Twitter blog.

In the blog post, she states that Twitter has already been working towards internal diversity goals at different levels in the company. They decided to publicly share those goals. Twitter has defined what these changes will yield a year from now. In short, the new goals are focused in increasing the overall representation of women and underrepresented minorities throughout the whole company.

Those goals (set for 2016) are:

* Increase women overall to 35%

* Increase women in tech roles to 16%

* Increase women in leadership roles to 25%

* Increase underrepresented minorities overall to 11%

* Increase underrepresented minorities in tech roles to 9%

* Increase underrepresented minorities in leadership roles to 6%

Those last three goals come with an asterisk: “US only”.

That’s a good start, and an admirable goal. The LA Times breaks things down a bit. In an article titled “Twitter’s diversity plan: approximately 40 women” written by Tracey Lein and Daina Beth Solomon, the reality of those percentages becomes more clear.

In the article, it says that Twitter has a global workforce of 4,100 people. Right now, 34% of those employees are women. Twitter’s new goal for 2016 is to increase women overall to 35%. That comes out to 41 more women than they currently employ.

The same article notes that underrepresented ethnic groups (mostly blacks and Latinos) currently make up 8% of Twitter’s U.S. Workforce. Twitter wants to increase that number to 9%. In other words, Twitter has made some very modest goals.


Twitter’s First Hashtag Was Posted 8 Years Ago



HashtagHave you ever wondered why people started using hashtags on Twitter? Today, it’s not unheard of for a group of people, who are all tweeting about the same event, to use three or more hashtags to describe it. We may have reached #hashtag #overload.

Eight years ago, that wasn’t so. The very first person to suggest that people who are all tweeting about the same thing use a # (pound) was Chris Messina. His very influential tweet was posted on August 23, 2007.

Who is Chris Messina? His bio says: “I invented the hashtag, advocated for many open source and open web projects, and co-founded BarCamp and coworking communities. I previously worked at Google in developer relations as a UX designer.”

It’s pretty amazing to see how far his suggestion to use what was then refereed to as a pound symbol has gone. Why did he choose the pound symbol, instead of some other one?

In another of his tweets, Chris Messina notes that Twitter (the company, not the users) resisted using hashtags in the beginning. He points out that hashtags were not intended to be Twitter-only. Today, we see them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr.


Twitter DMs Can Now Go Over 140 Characters



Twitter logoTwitter has removed the 140-character limit from Direct Messages (DM). This allows people to use Twitter’s Direct Messages feature to chat with their friends without having to curtail their thoughts to fit within the 140 character limit. This change does not affect publicly posted Tweets, which must still be 140 characters or less.

The removal of the character limit for Direct Messages started being rolled out on August 12, 2015, on Android and iOS apps, and on Twitter.com, TweetDeck and Twitter for Mac. Those of you who cannot wait to try the new, longer, Direct Messages should make sure your using the latest version of their apps. Twitter’s blog also notes that sending and receiving Direct Messages via SMS will still be limited to 140 characters.

Those of you with a lot of verbose and loquacious Twitter friends may be fearful of the length of the messages they might send you. Or, maybe you are looking forward to sending exceptionally long Direct Messages to some of the people you follow.

Personally, I suspect that it is only a matter of time before spam accounts and brand accounts take advantage of the longer Direct Messages. Now might be a good time to go into your Twitter settings and uncheck the box next to “Receive Direct Messages from anyone”.


You Can Now Share Your Block List on Twitter



Twitter logoTwitter has been making changes that are designed to make the social media website a nicer, safer, place to interact with others. In April, it made policy changes that enabled Twitter users to report harassment that was happening to someone else. (Previously, users could only report harassment if it was happening to them). Now, Twitter will let users share their block list with others.

The purpose this new change is to help make Twitter safer. Anyone can choose to share their block list with another Twitter user. The new feature “makes blocking multiple accounts easy, fast, and community driven”. Twitter describes it this way:

Mute and block are tools to help you control your Twitter experience. While many users find them useful, we also recognize that some users – those who experience high volumes of unwanted interactions on Twitter – need more sophisticated tools. That’s where this new feature comes in. You can now export and share your block lists with people in your community facing similar issues or import another user’s block list into your own account and block multiple users all at once, instead of blocking them individually.

In addition, Twitter users will be able to manage their list of imported blocked accounts separately from their own full list of blocked accounts. Twitter has some easy to follow directions that will teach people how to use this new feature.


Twitter’s new Policy Changes Aimed at Combatting Abuse



Twitter logoTwitter will be making two new policy changes. One is related to prohibited content. The other is about how they will enforce certain policy violations. The goal is to reduce the amount of abuse that Twitter users could find themselves subjected to.

More specifically, they have updated their violent threats policy. It now extends to “threats of violence against others or promot[ing] violence against others.” This change broadens the previous policy so that it is not limited to “direct, specific threats of violence against others”.

Twitter is also going to take steps to enforce penalties upon those who violate Twitter’s policies. Their support team has been given additional enforcement options that gives them the ability to lock abusive accounts for specific periods of time. Twitter’s blog further explains: “This option gives us leverage in a variety of contexts, particularly where multiple users begin harassing a particular person or group of people”.

In short, Twitter can lock a user’s account if he or she violates the Twitter Rules. Twitter can actually give users a timer “countdown” that shows exactly how long it will be before a person can use their Twitter account again. Personally, I think that this delay will effectively remove the instant gratification that some people appear to get from harassing others on Twitter. They won’t be able to fire off the next unpleasant comment – they have to wait.

Once the “countdown” ends, Twitter might ask the user to enter their phone number. An SMS with a verification code will be sent to that phone number. The Twitter account won’t be unlocked until the person is able to send Twitter the SMS code. After that clears, it is possible that Twitter will require a person to delete the Tweet (or Tweets) that got them in trouble in the first place. Don’t want to delete that Tweet? The account stays locked.

Twitter is also testing a new product feature that will help them identify suspected abusive Tweets and to limit their reach. The feature “takes into account a wide range of signals and context that frequently correlates with abuse including the age of the account itself, and the similarity of a Tweet to other content that our safety team has in the past independently determined to be abusive.”

My impression is that this new feature will be able to notice that a brand new “egg account” has been created, to note that it is sending out abusive Tweets, and to prevent the person behind the account from being able to continue to do so. In other words, an abusive Tweeter that got his or her account locked might not be able to immediately make a brand new “egg account” for the purpose of continuing to behave badly on Twitter.