Twitter CEO believes Follower counts are meaningless
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has admitted that he thinks Twitter’s Follower count is an entirely meaningless metric. In fact, Dorsey actually states it was a mistake to have made the number so prominent and believes it’s an aspect of Twitter that needs rethinking.
Speaking in a fireside chat in New Delhi, India, Dorsey explained it was an unwise decision for the team to have emphasized the metric. He also explained that it largely happened without them really thinking about it all too much.
“Back then, we were not really thinking about all the dynamics that could ensue afterwards,” he admitted. “One of the things we did was we had people follow each other – so you can be a follower of someone. We made the font size a little bit bigger than everything else on the page. We did not really think about it and moved onto the next problem to solve.
“What this has done is, we put all the emphasis, not intending to, on that number of how many people follow me. So, if that number is big and bold, what do people want to do with it? They want to make it go up.”
As anyone who was there in the early days of Twitter, it really was all about how many followers you had and who had the most followers. For many years people believed that Twitter’s verification system was tied into how many followers people had, and there has always been a big push from Twitter bots to provide users with fake followers to inflate their numbers. In many ways, it’s seen as a metric for how successful you are on social media.
“When you open Twitter and you see [your follower count] is five, it’s actually incentivising you to increase that number,” Dorsey continued. “That may have been right 12 years ago, but I don’t think it’s right today”.
As part of a sweeping number of changes Dorsey wants to make to improve Twitter, including the supposed removal of “likes” and the continued suspension of verification, follower count could also face the chop.
“I think what’s more important is the number of meaningful conversations you’re having on the platform. How many times do you receive a reply?”
Dorsey makes a fair point, and it’s one that echoes former Twitter CEO Ev William’s views on the matter. “I think showing follower counts were probably ultimately detrimental,” Williams said during a conference last week. “It really put in your face that the game was popularity”.
“It’s easy to say in retrospect, that maybe we shouldn’t have follower counts,” Williams explained. “A lot of these things drove growth, and if we hadn’t had them, maybe someone else would have done them and built a much more dominant platform.
“But today that’s not necessarily healthy”.
It’s clear that Twitter is on a path to change. This could partly be spurred on by the negative attitude that’s encapsulating the platform following its limp attempts to stop the spread of fake news or address its “toxic” environment for female users like many other platforms are attempting to do.