(HEADS UP - this is a post from 2020! But it's still making sense to me in late 2022.)
I’m disappointed in Twitter. Without pulling any punches, let's discuss its current state of affairs.
Twitter is a snake pit of hate speech - the steamy, seedy underbelly of a fearful humanity. Ask yourself a snap question - which social media platform is the dumpsteriest dumpster fire? You answered Twitter without hesitation.
Beyond the hate, it's spam spam and more spam. Gross porn accounts, Eastern European spammers creating accounts by the hundreds, fake influencers buying thousands of followers, ... and we’re not done.
Twitter’s not even real. Twitter is rife with phony. Thousands of tweets are being made by fake personas - bots - controlled by foreign powers intent on destabilizing the United States and any other entity they deem wreckable. Whether for profit or power or just revenge, it's working. We want to jump online and discuss the issues, espouse our beliefs, maybe change people’s minds, and some of us even want to win Internet fights against our enemies. But many of these flame wars are being waged against bots and Russian agents. We don't even know who we're yelling at!
Twitter accounts get hacked. You’re still wishing you could edit tweets (like you can on Facebook and Instagram - they trust us. Twitter doesn’t). Most of the friends you made on Twitter have left the service. And your most insightful tweets - the ones that used to get 20 likes - now get none. Where did everyone go? It reminds me of a bar we all used to go to that's just changed. No one is having fun anymore. I yearn for the times when I wasn't sadder for having been on Twitter for an hour.
Twitter has lousy user growth, probably has way fewer active users than they want Wall Street to know, and too many good people have left. If there's a social media platform in trouble, it's Twitter. (Full disclosure: I’m a shareholder. I want better)
I don't know why Twitter doesn’t get aggressive and punitive with the bots and spam. It's such a stain on the user experience. Besides maybe not being able to afford a team of people to work on this, I can't figure out why Twitter management isn't swarming on this festering problem. Why don’t they care about the user experience? A bad Twitter user experience makes the good people leave.
Let's help Twitter heal itself with a big idea. My solution is born out of Twitter's famous / infamous blue "Verified" checkmark system.
Years ago, when the application was still public, I applied for verification. Besides explaining to Twitter who I was and what made me notable or famous, and being forced to use a picture of myself as my avatar, I had to literally prove I was Chris Reimer. I had to scan my driver's license and send the PDF to Twitter’s verification team.
I’m pleased they verified me, and I've coached others on how to get verified. So many people are dying for that blue checkmark. I've watched some throw a fit when Twitter said “no” and spurned them. Some had valid arguments; so many others didn't. Admittedly, I am probably the most "ordinary" person to be verified, but note this: you can rest assured that I am who I say I am. I'm real.
Let's offer everyone a chance to be "verified." Twitter, if you're not going to ban bots and spammers, it's time for you to create the Green Checkmark. Anyone with the green checkmark will use their real name on Twitter (at least display their real name, if their real name isn't available in a username), a real picture of themselves for their avatar, be required to explain who they are, and they'll have to upload a copy of their driver's license or other government-issued I.D. to Twitter’s Human Verification team. If you can prove you are who you say you are, and you want others to know it, you can go through this process and get your green checkmark.
What will this mean for you? It means you're Human Verified, and you can choose to interact with other Human Verified and Twitter Verified accounts.
Check this out - If you're not blue verified, you might not realize this, but here's what the verified interface looks like:
That's right - those of us with Verified accounts have our own Twitter party room, where we can filter out all of the noise and interact only with other Verified accounts. I assume Twitter did this to help famous Verified accounts that receive a deluge of incoming tweets filter down the volume to something more manageable. If you go to that Verified tab, you’ll only see Verified “@” mentions.
Twitter can provide this same style of interface to green Human Verified accounts. Twitter can alter the interface to allow Green Human Verified accounts to interact with green, blue, both, or all mentions.
What will Twitter users get out of this? More real conversations, and hopefully the slow death of spam. If you're Green Verified, I can know you're real. I can make friends with you, talk to you, maybe even debate you or argue with you, and feel confident I'm not arguing with a Russian bot. I can tune in to the green/blue feed and not even see the stupid bot tweets. (Again, who in the HELL wants to see this crap? Twitter, are you listening?)
Can you imagine the swell of conversations we'll see? Further, Twitter should walk all new users through the green Human verification process as part of a new onboarding program. They'll love it! Not only will they feel a little special (user experience!), they may eventually feel like they’re part of a family (like we did in 2006-2010). Most importantly, they'll stay. The green checkmark for Human Verification could be the start of Twitter’s turnaround.
January 6, 2020 update - people leaving Twitter ... this is what I'm talking about.
Yeah I can’t do this Twitter shit no more.. too many trolls... ✌🏾— Feelin Good As Hell (@lizzo) January 6, 2020
I’ll be back when I feel like it.