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Snippet: Twitter Tumbleweed Watch ☇

Shared on January 26, 2023

Dave Karpf:

I just want to share some back-of-the-envelope math. I’m increasingly convinced that Twitter (or at least the network neighborhoods that comprise my Twitter experience) is becoming a ghost town. Here’s why:

The “lightning” in this case, was the whole “Bretbug” dustup back in August 2019. Before Bret Stephens got mad and wrote to my provost, I had about 9,000 followers on the platform. After his weeklong tantrum was over, I had around 40,000 Twitter followers. That number has held pretty steady ever since — today I have around 42,000. That’s… a lot. On paper at least, it makes Twitter a much larger and more valuable megaphone than I am likely to have anywhere else. […]

But that number — 42,000 Twitter followers — has begun to seem hollow. When I tweet something, it isn’t actually viewed by 42,000 individuals. It’s seen by the subset of those 42,000 people that happen to be staring at Twitter’s chronological timeline at the time I send the tweet, plus anyone who is shown the tweet through Twitter’s algorithmic timeline. And that reduced-megaphone turns out to be a lot less irreplaceable.

I’ve popped in from time to time on Twitter, and it seems that my timeline has become a ghost town, too. Even taking into account the mass exodus of tech folks, it seems that a lot of the other posts by people I follow just aren’t appearing. There have been other similar observations of just missing content. While I don’t get caught up in the numbers of reach for my own content, the thought of missing content from other people that I chose to follow is concerning.

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