This text is still a draft.
The social dynamics taking place on Twitter make it a key platform for the dissemination of information. Not for the reach or even the conversations, but for the simple fact that key people are there. Twitter is not the platform with the largest number of users, nor does it have the most traffic, but what happens there reverberates a lot.
In its current configuration, Twitter as a platform serves as the perfect space for the manipulation of speech with the ability of different parts to use it with larges number of robots to boost specific hashtags that end up guiding mass media. Hence, the subject falls into people’s conversations and for those interested, it is enough to reap the results.
Last week I participated in a TV show called PANORAMA, on TV ALMG, where we talked about the acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk and the possible paths of the platform.
The video is in brazilian portuguese.
I found it interesting that Elon Musk’s list of proposals for Twitter includes the individual validation of users. The initiative is controversial because, depending on how it is implemented, having this potentially harmful side effect, it can put people in a situation of persecution by authoritarian governments. But there are ways to operationalize this without having this potentially harmful externality. Anyway, I understand that one-on-one validation can be interesting because it has the potential to wipe out fake accounts and robots from the platform. This will be of great help in the process of mitigating the spread of disinformation.
As Twitter currently operates based on the sale of advertising spaces, the existence of fake accounts and robots helps the company by inflating the number of users on the platform. This helps them on selling ads that end up in users’ feeds. It also happens that, anchoring its revenue in the sale of advertising space, Twitter has to algorithmically manipulate feeds, forcing brands to pay in order to reach their audiences.
This is my biggest annoyance with the platform in its current setup. The organic reach of posts is always a fraction of their potential. Let’s say… if a profile has 100 followers on the platform and posts a message, only a part (according to research I did a few years ago, the average was 37%) of your followers will see the post in their feeds. I find this quite counterproductive in terms of system and usefulness for people. However, this is a format that pleases the platform well, as it generates demand for profiles that commercially explore their presence there and end up paying for boosting.
To get an idea of this challenge related to the messages reach on Twitter, let’s look at a practical case. I posted the video of my participation in the TV show on different platforms. Below, a brief report of how these posts performed (taking reach into account) in different platforms.
Although my quick effort here did not account for the number of views that the post had on Instagram and Facebook (these platforms do not provide this data directly in their applications) it is possible to see from the number of reactions (likes) that the reach was far greater than what I had on Twitter.
In other words: for a message to reach a large number of people on Twitter, it is necessary that key people see this post and decide to reverberate it with likes, comments or shares. We return to the issue of social networking, which is the need to be well connected on the platform. It is not enough to have a large number of followers. You need to have the right Twitter followers.
On the other hand, on the perspective of those on the platform to consume information, this dynamic is really bad, as users choose to follow profiles interested in the content they publish. As the platform does not show everything to them, there is a bottleneck issue related to not viewed content that is not being resolved.
Due to this limitation, I understand that platforms that provide higher organic reach can be more effective. In that vein, I understand that Mastodon has all the potential to solve this. At Mastodon we have full organic reach (ie: your effective organic reach is equal to your potential reach). In other words, everything you post will be shown in the feeds of those who follow you. This makes this platform truly what Elon Musk argues Twitter is: the public arena of discussion.
In terms of platform design and potential Mastodon is a far superior platform. Instance administrators can work on content moderation and even handle the connection (or not) with other servers. This makes content-specific restrictions by type or profile operational. Anyway. It’s a dynamic that has really interesting potential and I invite you to check it out.