Twitter Is Taking Action Against “Low-Quality Tweets” – Here’s What That Means

Written by Laura Roeder

On February 14, 2017

In the past, Facebook and Twitter have had very different ideas about which updates to show their users.

Facebook decides for you using algorithms, so you don’t see every update that gets shared and you don’t see updates in a chronological order.

Twitter, on the other hand, shows you everything, and they show it to you chronologically.

(Basically, Facebook is like a date who orders for you in a restaurant, while Twitter lets you choose as much as you want from the menu.)

And while Twitter has dabbled with restrictions on visibility in the past (with features like the Quality Filter), they’ve never reached as far as some of Facebook’s tweaks (like code that predicts the authenticity of a status update).

Now that Twitter faces more accusations of enabling abuse than ever, though, they’re introducing new measures that will make certain kinds of Tweets less immediately visible in the timeline.

Among other things, Twitter’s most recent update will target what they call “low-quality Tweets” – but what does that mean, exactly?

Let’s take a closer look!

What “low-quality Tweets” are – and what they aren’t

First things first: Twitter is not implementing a Facebook-style, algorithm-based Timeline.

Which, you know, phew.

What it is doing is trying to put a lid on abuse – or at least, trying to make it less conspicuous.

(For the record, that’s not “abuse” in a colloquial way – we’re talking about personal threats, hate speech, that sort of thing.)

In fact, this update focuses specifically on replies, and Twitter’s interest in filtering out the ones that are…well, less than ideal.

Here – let’s take a quick second to review how exactly Twitter replies work.

Twitter’s style up until now has been to collapse certain reply threads to certain Tweets. For example, say Bob shares a Tweet, and Carol replies. Ted replies to Carol, and those two start having a back-and-forth conversation in the replies.

Twitter might collapse some of those Tweets, so that anyone else reading through the replies to Bob’s original message doesn’t have to read through Ted and Carol’s entire conversation along the way.

Twitter uses that “show more” prompt so that users reading through the replies can choose to see the ones that have been collapsed and hidden – they’re not gone, they’re just not in the way, either.

Twitter’s new feature is going to function similarly – but also, a little more ruthlessly.

Now, in addition to collapsing reply chains like the one above, Twitter will also sort out reply Tweets that it considers “less relevant” than others. Those Tweets will be listed separately in the replies, and users will have to click or tap to reveal them.

Twitter less relevant tweet reply preview gif

A preview of Twitter’s new replies section. Source:

Those Tweets will still be there – they just won’t be immediately visible to everyone.

While Twitter hasn’t specified exact definitions for “low-quality” or “less relevant,” it’s worth noting that they talk about these things in the context of abuse – which means it’s something that you very likely don’t have to worry about.

(Unless you use Twitter for the purposes of harassing and/or abusing others, in which case, this is an excellent opportunity to examine some of your personal choices.)

Even if Twitter’s new measures for filtering out “low-quality” Tweets isn’t particularly likely to affect your visibility, it’s a powerful reminder of just how important replying can be – especially when it comes to marketing.

Don’t make social media replies an afterthought

When people reach out to you on social media, they might not always expect a reply – but offering one can leave a big impression!

Twitter users who are responded to by businesses are more likely to share that experience with others (both online and off), and they’re also more likely to recommend that brand to others.

Replies aren’t always one-to-one interactions, either.

Instead of tweeting directly back to a single user, for example, you might try quoting them, so that your reply shows up in your followers’ timelines. Here’s an example from Merriam-Webster:

See? They could have replied directly – but instead, they saw an opportunity to share something that the rest of their followers would appreciate seeing, too!

Of course, catching opportunities like that – and even having the time to reply to all your mentions at all – can be a lot easier said than done.

(Especially when you consider how much speed matters. There’s actually a correlation between how long it takes you to reply and how much people spend.)

The trick?

Remember that opportunities for writing memorable replies don’t usually announce themselves – you have to create the time to find them yourself!

Sure, your notifications will alert you when you’ve been mentioned – but how often do you check those? And how much time do you actually have available to invest in replying?

Every day, you have a finite amount of time available for social media marketing. 

And while replying to mentions isn’t a thing you can do ahead of time or reliably automate, other routine tasks are.

Writing and scheduling social media updates ahead of time is the industry standard for a reason – it gives you more time on a daily basis for other things, including writing replies.

The less time you spend on routine tasks, the more time you have for focusing on things like replies as they come up!

What do you think of Twitter’s new update?

Twitter’s latest update will be rolling out over the next couple of weeks, so – what do you think?

Does it make sense to try and filter “low-quality” Tweets?

Is it a strong enough response to abuse and harassment?

Would you want to see Twitter apply a filter like this on a larger scale, or do you prefer its chronologically-based timeline?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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