Twitter is dumb software

I open Twitter for the first time in a week and every single tweet highlighted is about conservatives burning Nikes or Steve Bannon at the New Yorker festival. Most tweets are mad about Bannon speaking. A couple scrolls and it turns out hours before his invite was rescinded. So Twitter is highlighting not just outrage to me but outdated outrage.

This seems like a problem with a solution. If you have sentiment analysis on tweets, maybe don’t highlight the bombastic ones for hours and days after their posting. Even without text analysis I’m sure there’s a pattern of behavior around controversial tweets Twitter could stop highlighting, if Twitter was interested in actual quality conversation, and not fanning flames because it’s good for your user activity metrics.

I’m reminded of the time a big site with a forum for users of the site asked for my help with their problematic community. My first recommendation was to get rid of their outdated forum software that bubbled up the most recent thread with a new comment to the top, no matter how old it was. During an interview I brought up their forum to see at the top a four year old post about a decision they corrected soon after back on their homepage.

In a healthy system, outdated news needs to experience atrophy and be de-emphasized when it’s old news. Forums should let old stuff go away after a few weeks. At Twitter, that window might only be an hour, but it needs to happen to keep things healthy.

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