No, Twitter does not need an edit button – and here’s why | Liam O’Dell

Adding the ability to edit tweets would not only be impractical, but would open the floodgates to further abuse of the platform.

“Sexy edit button” were the three words Twitter used today to say that it is terrified of the edit button.

While slightly unconventional, the tweet – which was in response to a post from voiceover artist and writer Summer Ray – finally provided some acknowledgement from the platform that they are aware of the repeated calls for the function. Twitter think it’s a bad idea – and they’re right.

Supporters of the introduction of the new button may well cite Facebook’s ‘edit history’ feature as an example of this setting being successful, but it is far from it. Clicking ‘view edit history’ is the only way in which we can find out if a post has been altered, and even then, we’re unlikely to click it and interrupt our automatic and robotic scrolling of our News Feed.

Transfer this over to Twitter, where a chronological algorithm makes things feel a lot more instantaneous, and the chances of us noticing that a tweet has been edited are even smaller. Even if a sign was added to suggest that it has, it would have to fight for space in a rectangle which is already populated by countless icons and pieces of information. People just wouldn’t be bothered.

The main argument for editing tweets is on the issue of spelling mistakes, where having the ability to edit out a rogue comma or a misspelling could prove useful. Indeed, while we have all fallen victim to the occasional grammatical error, how would such an edit function be enforced?

Even when one considers the detailed coding required, what would happen to a tweet when it’s edited? If it remains in situ, in its original place in the timeline, then what’s the point? The edit remains unacknowledged unless the scroller happened to retweet it onto their account. On the other hand, boosting edited tweets to the top of the timeline would be an algorithmic nightmare.

So the alternative is to leave it buried, drowned out by all the other tweets which populate our busy timelines. This is where it becomes dangerous.

Those who make the point about the feature potentially being exploited refer to how we could retweet a tweet with a statement we agree with, only to find it’s been changed to something abhorrent later. Even when we put a disclaimer in our bios saying that sharing other tweets do not imply endorsement, the association and connection is still there.

So some have suggested a character limit to prevent misuse. After all, character limits and the need to be succinct was at the heart of Twitter until it doubled its trademark 140-character count. Yet, where would such a limit end? One or two characters would be enough for a punctuation error, but may not be enough for autocorrect’s many failures. On the other hand, increasing it to account for bigger mistakes makes it easier for someone to type ‘arse’ or something far more hateful and vitriolic.

When you consider what this ‘perfect limit’ is, and how one even begins to design and implement an edit button, you start to realise that it’s probably easier to just delete and try again.

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A Stance on Self-Promotion

I’ve taken a step back and let my blog do its own thing. I would write the posts and wait for people to discover them, rather than using scheduled tweets and Twitter chats to boost views out of desperation. When I said earlier this month that I was to take a step back from the blogging community, I was worried at first. I knew the community around my blog would remain, but I was didn’t know whether the interaction and comments – most often as a result from conversations during a Twitter chat – would come to a halt. Today, as I realised that I’ve surpassed my milestone of reaching 12,000 views by the end of 2016 and I’m one away from 1,000 combined WordPress followers, I decided that I quite like how things are going.

Granted, I still feel bad about not keeping up with scheduled tweets, but with most of my posts being shared by musicians or those with an interest in the current affairs I talk about, I tend to get more views than desperate and repetitive social media posts would get.

As I announced that my blog would be moving more towards professional writing as opposed to more personal pieces, I reflected on where I was four years ago in 2012. It was a time when I wrote posts on pretty much anything just to get something up on the website. I’ve already talked about how the content on this site has changed since then, but I genuinely believe that this blog has helped to improve my writing (alongside my path through education, of course). I have had a change in attitude and I like to think that I’ve had more people contact me through my blog because of that.

It’s likely that this is the same rhetoric I’ve mentioned countless times before in previous posts, but I also have something important to mention when it comes to how active my blog will be in the future.

I have returned to the University of Lincoln to begin my second year of studying journalism. Lectures, seminars and other commitments will mean that social media will remain low. For a long time, I have always had time to schedule blog posts, so that won’t be a problem. Yet, scheduling tweets via. Buffer has often come down to remembering to do it and finding the time to do it.

You’ll be seeing less promotional tweets from me, but that may just be a good thing.

Liam

YouTube’s ToS changes: User input is something the social media industry is lacking | The Friday Article

Trends on today’s social media platforms are determined by the websites themselves. Users are forced to accept these changes or go elsewhere for the service. The result has led to Instagram changing the algorithm on its timeline, and introducing Instagram Stories and a zoom function. Gone are the days when the demands of the users were met. It needs to change. Websites and their users must come together to discuss changes which both parties want, for it is an interdependent relationship between the user and the platform as a whole.

YouTube's new policies on 'advertiser-friendly' content is the latest change to be made without consulting users or creators on the platform. Photo: Effie Yang on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.
YouTube’s new policies on ‘advertiser-friendly’ content is the latest change to be made without consulting users or creators on the platform. Photo: Effie Yang on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.

Twitter is the website which has come the closest to gathering audience feedback, be it in the form of Twitter survey advertisements, for example. Yet, these surveys are about companies which work with Twitter. Why can’t they introduce surveys to assess users’ reactions to new changes?

As for Facebook, they have always remained transparent on any new change to their platform – particularly in terms of privacy, of course. However, we all remember when they tried to introduce profile timelines for the first time, right? A fair amount of people didn’t want to make the change, yet it happened to everyone eventually. Again, users of a platform must go along with social media updates. The companies set the trends, and what’s funny is that we often use the social media platform itself to complain about it. Of course, these websites will see the discontent in a trending hashtag (#YouTubeisOverParty doesn’t sound particularly positive, after all), but they never really address it. Sadly, the changes still go ahead, as all we have are our online soapboxes, and they can do whatever they want with their own website – as many online creators have mentioned when it comes to the latest drama with YouTube’s new Terms of Service.

With any change on YouTube, content creators on the site are forced to make videos as a way in which to kick up as much of a fuss as possible. Small YouTube channels often lose out the most, as – unlike big YouTubers – they don’t have a network or a contact at YouTube to whom escalate their concerns.

The idea of a YouTube channel dedicated to being the middle man between the site and video makers is a solution I’ve often thought about. Whilst YouTubers big or small making videos on the subject is great for showing the collective frustration at the news, a channel dedicated to conveying the general consensus to YouTube would be more meaningful to those at the company. It’d be a way for communication to improve between the users and the platform.

Then, that should hopefully bring this trend to a close, and encourage other sites like Instagram and Twitter to find a way in which users of their website can give clear feedback on upcoming and proposed changes.

Social media apps and websites are trying to be the leading platform in their sector, and are doing this by copying features from rivals (Facebook borrows from Twitter and vice versa, and Instagram Stories has a lot of similarities to Snapchat, of course). However, they are prioritising the business goal of being at the top of the industry over listening to the users. If apps and platforms made the changes people wanted after communicating with them directly, then the industry would be more competitive and offer unique and exciting apps – they wouldn’t have to rely on the unnecessary copying which is happening at the moment.

It’s time for a ‘middle man’ on these platforms. We can no longer rely on automated support or feedback emails to vent our frustration at new changes. Now is the time for a proper conversation between users and the platform itself.

Liam

Instagram Stories: The battle for being the go-to photo app is on | The Friday Article

Instagram Stories has started a new battle for social media apps. For years, the battle between Facebook and Twitter has dominated tech news, with the two websites becoming more similar each day. Now, the attention shifts towards a new type of communication and the latest trend – photo and video chats. In an attempt to adhere to the latest trends, Instagram has sacrificed its individuality. Whilst users want to be able to choose between social media platforms, they also want the one app to serve a specific purpose. It’s freedom of choice versus the desire for a social media monopoly. Twitter may be winning against Facebook as the platform for text-based communication, but now there must be one go-to app for sharing photos and videos. It’s Instagram vs. Snapchat.

Photo: https://www.instagram-brand.com
Photo: https://www.instagram-brand.com

Instagram’s new update exposed a conflicting desire in society: we all want a variety of apps for the collectibility aspect, but at the same time, we like all our needs being served in the form of one app. We want both a collection and an individual service. It is impossible to have both, and now that Instagram Stories is worryingly similar Snapchat, users are faced with a dilemma: to which social media platform do they remain loyal to?

“It seems like it’s lost touch with the spirit of innovation and creation” said YouTuber and online creator Hank Green in an Instagram story posted earlier this week. His views tapped into a larger issue in the social media industry today. It’s essentially a landscape where apps can either copy each other, or be left behind. Rather than tapping into new and exciting ideas, in order to continue their takeover of the specific market, social media websites are forced to mimic competitors. It’s not a great way for these apps to act, and leaves social media users torn between two or more great apps.

Aside from users questioning their loyalty to certain mobile applications, another dilemma comes in the form of their requests being ignored. Twitter users long for an edit button, and those who use Instagram want to see the old logo and a chronological timeline make a comeback. It’s concerning that instead of making these changes, they choose to mimic their rivals. If they are doing this out of fear for losing users, then listening to their demands would lead to them continuing to use the service, right?

Who will come out on top? I don’t know. However, whilst being the go-to app for videos and photos is an important thing in terms of keeping up with the market, listening to the demands of the public is one of the best ways to procure loyal and regular users. It’s about time that we determined the trends and updates for some of our favourite apps.

Liam

Twitter’s blue tick is no longer the badge of honour it used to be | The Friday Article

“A stalking ground for the sanctimoniously self-righteous who love to second-guess, to leap to conclusions and be offended – worse, to be offended on behalf of others they do not even know.” This is Twitter, according to the comedian, writer and national treasure that is Stephen Fry, who decided to leave the social networking site earlier this year.

You can now join Twitter's elite, and this 'us and them' dynamic is worryingly close to real life. Photo source: https://about.twitter.com/company/brand-assets
You can now join Twitter’s elite, and this ‘us and them’ dynamic is worryingly close to real life. Photo source: https://about.twitter.com/company/brand-assets

Twitter has become a dangerous reflection of real-life sociology. The social media website is a weird mixture of individualism and collective action. We can boost our ego and self-worth by glancing at our follow count and we can bury ourselves in Twitter hashtags, where most of us just adopt the group think within that community. Much like real life, we are individuals, but we can get lost in subcultures and groups. There is the elite and the masses. The 99% and the 1%. In both worlds, offline and online, there is the desire for the majority to experience the life of the privileged few. Now, with the social network creating a form to apply for ‘blue tick’ validation, the doors to Twitter’s elite have now been flung open.

Compared to other sites such as Facebook, Twitter is one of the main social networks which captures the human desire for recognition and social progression. Mark Zuckerberg’s website has always been about friendship, with the main focus being on the connection between two people, as opposed to Twitter, which has since become a game about followers, where everyone longs to get to the top – whatever that means.

In the real world, class and wealth establish the ‘us and them’ rhetoric which creates division in our society. Of course, we’ve also longed for our opinions to be recognised in person, but that’s when Twitter comes in. Opinions and content drive the hegemony online. It’s a factor which leaves users desperate to find the opinions and content which appeals to such a wide audience. Of course, at the top of Twitter’s ‘blue tick elite’ are accounts such as Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, but their accounts are more than just places to promote their latest content, they also use it as a platform for their own opinions. For the 99%, it’s not the content or music we are envious of, it’s having our views and opinions respected by strangers – over 90 million in Katy Perry’s case – which every person in society longs for. Twitter is a soapbox, and that’s what made it successful.

On Tuesday, it was announced that all Twitter users can apply for the verified blue tick, but it was a move which will only confuse people. As BBC’s Newsbeat puts it, the icon is seen to be “one of the ultimate compliments”, but it is also a sign that you’re part of a secret group, up there with other verified accounts in the entertainment industry. It’s drifted away from its original purpose of preventing fake accounts and providing authentication. Instead, it’s a badge given to those whose opinions can appeal to anyone. Twitter themselves say that they are for accounts in “the public interest”, and for an account on the site, that can only be determined by how many strangers a person or business’ opinions can appeal to.

By Twitter opening the doors to join its group of verified accounts, users everywhere are now seeing this as a way to prove to others that their opinions appeal to a large audience and are worth listening to. The desire to force a person’s opinions on others is rooted in society today, and if this isn’t done through the form of civilised debate or discussion, then it turns into arrogance – a trait nobody wants to admit to possessing.

A blue tick on Twitter is no longer a badge of honour. Instead, people take it to mean that the soapbox they’re standing on is respected. No one’s ego should be stroked to that extent.

How Twitter both separates and unites the blogging community

Twitter is an extension of a blogger’s personality. As a micro-blogging site, it’s there for us when we can’t write a lengthy blog post about a TV show we watch or what our plans are for the day. Its 140-character limit requires us to be succinct, allowing us to perfect the best versions of ourselves. Twitter is one of the few social media sites which allows us to be both an individual and as part of a group, and that isn’t without its problems.

 

Twitter
Twitter can unite bloggers, but at the same time, it can set us apart. Photo: Esther Vargas on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.

I’ve been involved in blogger Twitter chats for a long time now – most notably #lbloggers (a chat for lifestyle bloggers). As with any community, there are advantages and disadvantages to being part of a group. One of the main issues is that of a ‘group think’. Whilst we all have our own opinions – of course – we all have to agree on certain aspects of blogging in order to fit in – we like to feel included, right?

For example, we’re all expected to despise automated DMs on Twitter and hate ‘follow for a follow’, yet there are some people who disagree with this and still expect a follow back. Admittedly, I can be one of these people sometimes, and I’m open about that because I shouldn’t hide it, just to fit in the wider community.

Similarly, as much as most of us like to think that numbers and followers don’t reflect the quality of the blog (some great bloggers may have only a hundred followers, for example), I certainly feel like there is a hierarchy within the blogging community which is headed by those with rather high follow counts. This can have both positive and negative effects.

To some bloggers, it serves as a motivator, to strive to achieve similar success in terms of followers and interaction. However, it can fuel an obsession with numbers when a lot of people argue that it doesn’t – or shouldn’t – matter. In a post at the start of the year, I talked about new bloggers being influenced by numbers and stats, and I think this hierarchy is partly to blame for that. In an ideal world, I’d like to see a blogging community where numbers don’t matter or where there isn’t a sense of hierarchy. It may take time, or it may never come at all, but it’s a concept I like the sound of.

To further delve into the psychology of online communities and the ‘group think’, then you also have drama and controversy whenever someone goes against what everyone else thinks. I’ve seen some of it online for myself and it’s quite uncomfortable and a tad hypocritical when the community is meant to be about positivity.

But then again, there is a smaller sense of community within blogging which is much more manageable. I’m of course talking about the small group of bloggers whom you talk to more frequently than others. Unlike the wider blogosphere, you’re not bound by collective thinking and you can truly be an individual. However, as we mature and develop as bloggers, our blogger friendship groups change. We read fewer blog posts of theirs, comment less and never really interact on Twitter. It becomes awkward and then sooner or later, we unfollow them. It’s a cycle I’ve found myself trapped in for a very long time.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved Twitter as a platform – both personally and from a blogging perspective. I’m a big fan of Twitter chats as well. I just think that there are some aspects of the blogging community on Twitter which need to be changed. Blogging is all about sharing opinions and these should be individual and our own.

What do you think about Twitter? Do you like it as a social media site? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below!

Liam

Weekly Update: Mixed Messages in the Blogging Community

This week has been rather quiet, where I have been trying to get a lot of work out of the way and enter a few competitions. However, in amongst this, I did a ‘clearout’ on Twitter and unfollowed accounts I’m no longer interested in.

I should stress that whilst numbers aren’t the main thing I focus on when it comes to blogging and Twitter, I do check my statistics often to see how well my blog posts are doing and to see how valued my tweets are.

However, what I did notice is that, after unfollowing a few accounts, is that they unfollowed back. This is no big deal, until I realised that some of these bloggers would say that you should follow someone based on interest, not for the numbers. So, if they unfollow back, what’s not to say that they were just following you because of that extra number? Is that why they unfollowed back?

I recently made another blog post about this, but I think the message surrounding numbers and statistics in the blogging community needs to be made clearer. Some new bloggers enter the community with the idea that it is all about ‘follow for a follow’, and this often fades after other, ‘older’ bloggers tell them that the community values quality over quantity and so forth.

But then, some people spreading this message don’t really abide by it. How many times have you seen a tweet recently where people complain about people rigorously following and unfollowing accounts just to get a follow back? These people then say how important it is to value a person’s tweets, blog content and interaction – as opposed to them being just a number.

The only problem is, what happens when the interaction stops? What do you do when I decide that we don’t interact as often during Twitter chats, comment on each other’s blogs as often, or even read the blogs themselves. In my case, there’s no point in seeing tweets in my timeline from someone I’ve drifted away from in the community (the alternative would be making a rather awkward re-introduction), so I unfollow.

Now, when the other person finally gets round to realising and they unfollow back, is it a matter of them seeing you as nothing more than a number, or them being reminded that the interaction is lost? We’ll never know the answer and so it’s hard for us to consider their actions hypercritical unless we do.

This was just another opportunity to explain some thoughts I’ve been having and I really do hope this makes sense, but I think we all need to explain how and why we follow people, as well as what we see within the numbers.

Listen to this week’s episode of Brunchtime:

How was your week? Comment below!

Liam