What Twitter could learn from Facebook when it comes to privacy and noise reduction

 

I’ll start this one with a short excerpt from my recent post Two Twitter Features I’m longing for to reduce the noise:

The fact that Twitter introduced lists is great. But wouldn’t it be even better if you could choose which lists should read the tweet you’re sending out?

A couple of scenarios:

  • I created a list of German speaking Twitterers writing about social media. If I now stumbled across an interesting social media related German link and would like to share it with my followers, it unfortunately doesn’t make much sense to non-German speakers. So I’d like to have the opportunity to share it with this specific German list of my followers.
  • You’ve created a list of real friends, close ones, not the ones from Myspace, and don’t want to share some kind of personal stuff with your whole timeline but just with the folks on your close friends list.

If Twitter had only taken a quick glance at a the privacy options Facebook rolled out roughly half a year ago, the above-named issues would have been solved right away. 

Marshall Kitpatrik from ReadWriteWeb nailed it:

The new Facebook publishing feature lets users share things with just a particular list of their friends. (Or with the public at large if they so choose.) The contexts are un-collapsed. Communication is human again. That’s a very big deal and is the kind of change that could make far more people comfortable sharing far more information about their lives on Facebook. It’s also a feature that no major competitor (namely Twitter) offers.

Facebook may be solving one of the biggest problems in social networking – the unnaturally uncontrollable nature of communication.

As a matter of fact, somebody unfollowed me on Twitter yesterday, telling me that too many of my tweets seemed too extraneous to appear in his timeline, therefore putting me on a list.

So basically, Twitter would just have to copy Facebook’s feature to reduce the noise in our timelines & make communication on Twitter more sophisticated in general. Just by enabling users to choose which lists should see their tweet. I’m not a very skilled coder, but this shouldn’t be rocket-science.

To conclude, I’ve put together a how-to-video of the above-mentioned Facebook feature for those of you who haven’t heard of it yet :

 
 

Two Twitter Features I’m longing for to reduce the noise

 

There are plenty of ways to use Twitter. Some use it in the “old-fashioned” way to stay in touch with their peers by telling each other what they’re doing. Some use it for marketing purposes, others try to be funny or something.

As I’m primarily using it as a source of information, as well as a platform to spread some (hopefully) valuable information, I’d really like to see some Twitter features that actually reduce the noise that is out there. If I’m looking for information, I select Twitterers because of the subjects they’re writing about / interested in. Thus, I don’t really want to know that a guy who tweets about enterprise 2.0 has just caught a bus in time. And I guess some of my followers don’t want to read some of my tweets as well because they just don’t have any value for them. There are two kinds of information I’m referring to in particular:

Tweets in a language my followers don’t understand

They might be helpful for my fellow Krauts, but don’t make any sense to followers who don’t speak any German. So instead of forcing them to learn this incredibly complicated language, I’ve had the idea that it’d be great if Twitter introduced language hashtags as a feature. And I guess it’s not just for German, but for a lot of people that don’t want to nag their mostly English speaking followers with Polish, Turkish or Spanish tweets, just to name a few.

An idea to solve this problem could look as follows:

#de Moin, dieser Tweet ist deutschsprachig und wieso sollten Leute ihn lesen, wenn sie kein Deutsch können?!

In this case, the #de-hashtag would indicate a German tweet. If Twitter now allowed its users to select the languages they actually understand, their timelines could be purged from “foreign” tweets that don’t make any sense to them, indicated by the specific hashtag. This would reduce the noise for Twitterers who don’t understand the language of multilingual users they follow. Other than that, it could also make a 2nd Twitter account superfluous.

Nicole Simon for example, a renowned German Social Media lady uses an English (main) account and a 2nd one for her German tweets. I also gave this solution a try by creating a German account apart from my main Twitter account SMartens83, but it really got tedious. I consequently started tweeting in English and German on my main account again, which does create noise for many of my non-German followers, but is much handier for me at the end of the day, I’m afraid.

Tweeting to specific lists

The fact that Twitter introduced lists is great. But wouldn’t it be even better if you could choose which lists should read the tweet you’re sending out?

A couple of scenarios:

  • I created a list of German speaking Twitterers writing about social media. If I now stumbled across an interesting social media related German link and would like to share it with my followers, it unfortunately doesn’t make much sense to non-German speakers. So I’d like to have the opportunity to share it with this specific German list of my followers.
  • You’ve created a list of real friends, close ones, not the ones from Myspace, and don’t want to share some kind of personal stuff with your whole timeline but just with the folks on your close friends list

These are the features that come to my mind when it comes to reducing the noise I create for my followers. If you have any other ideas or any workarounds to make these ideas a reality without a new Twitter feature, feel free to leave a comment or get in touch on Twitter. But please don’t DM me in Swahili ;-)