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Social Media

A few words about Twitter

This text is still a draft.

The social dynamics that take 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 to Larissa reverberates a lot.

In its current configuration, the platform serves as the perfect space for the manipulation of speech from the movement of robots to boost specific hashtags that end up guiding the 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 the Panorama program, on TV ALMG, where we talked about the acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk and the possible paths of the platform.

One thing that I think might be cool and that is on Elon Musk’s list of proposals for Twitter is the individual validation of users. The initiative is controversial because, depending on how its implementation is carried out, it can put people in a situation of persecution by authoritarian governments. But there are ways to operationalise this without having this potentially harmful externality. Anyway, I understand that one-on-one validation can be cool because it has the potential to wipe out fake accounts and bots. This will be of great help in the process of combating the dissemination of disinformation actions.

November update: The current proposal of “pay to be (and remain) validated” is, in my perspective, an error. Everyone that wish to be verified should be verified for free on the platform. This would elevate the civility and politeness on the platform, since people could be held responsible for what they publish. Attaching this to a monthly payment is wrong, in my opinion because a large amount of people just can’t afford monthly payments. I believe a subscription-based platform is viable, though. Current speculations are that people who subscribe would pay around 8 US dollars monthly. This can be really expensive in a lot of countries. I believe people who subscribe should have an ad-free experience, organic reach of 100% and pay less than 5 US dollars a month. This would probably scale better than what is being ventilated by Musk. Note that it is key not to attach user verification / validation to the subscriptions. This should be free.

As Twitter currently operates based on the sale of advertising, the existence of fake accounts and robots helps the company by inflating the number of users and composing graphics that the platform uses to sell ads in our feeds. Another thing that happens is that, when anchoring its revenue in the sale of advertising space, Twitter has to algorithmically manipulate the feed in a way that brands have to pay to make their posts reach the audiences of interest.

This is my biggest annoyance with the platform in the 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 ‚Äč‚Äčthis challenge related to the reach of messages 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 these posts and what you can have about their reach.

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 / likes) that the reach was 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 (like, comment or share). 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, that is, on the side of those who are on the platform to consume information, this way of working is very bad, as users choose to follow profiles because they are interested in the content that these profiles post. As the platform does not show everything to them, there is a bottleneck that is not being resolved.

Due to this limitation, I understand that platforms that provide higher organic reach can be more interesting. 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 feed 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 the 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 cool potential and I invite you to check it out. https://ursal.zone/@caiocgo

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