Wednesday, June 8, 2016

How Twitter Users Are Rigging the System And Why it Should Stop This to Save Itself in India


As everyone and his grandmother begin to understand the art of creating trends, Twitter has fallen prey to its own algorithm. It’s time to change and make way for meaningful conversations.

The trending algorithm is still in the nascent stages with very few and simple rules. A hashtag with a certain number of responses, by a certain number of users, in a short frequency has chances to trend.

This has led to insipid trends every day, to say the least. The trending hashtags are frequently about abusive personal attacks on public personalities, silly controversial conversation – political, cinema or trolls. Added to this, a quick study will reveal how “influencers” start the trends since the algorithm uses “Twitter users with a lot of followers” tweeting a certain hashtag as an indication that the conversation is important, useful, relevant for Twitter’s audience. While that may be true, it really doesn’t surface the kind of content or news that Indians would actually be delighted or curious to know.

The more meaningful conversations about India’s economic growth, women’s rights, children’s right to education, farmers’ plight, scarcity of drinking water, attacks on freedom of opinion, public opinion on important social and policy issues are buried under the top trends. If they have to surface to the top, Twitter has to make drastic changes to the way it spots trends. The fear that the engagement and growth seen now fuelled by those unscrupulous gamers may slow down should be quelled.

Although it will no doubt slow down the growth and engagement temporarily, it’ll be good for the long haul. And better revenue opportunities may crop up for the social media platform. Seriously, what money can you make when your users are active for just frivolous engagement?

Perhaps, much like the same way Microsoft allowed pirated windows software usage to pervade the market worldwide before a clamp down or Google allowed search engine optimisers to game it’s system for their own growth benefits before stopping it with it’s amazing algorithms, Twitter is keen to grow the market in India by turning a blind eye to the gaming of the system.

It would be foolish to suggest what they should do with its algorithm, Twitter has a brilliant team that has already done this in other regions.

All I can say is that Twitter may well lose the true influencers who can change the course of its journey in India, if it doesn’t act now.

Rajasekar KS is a content and social media strategist who tweets at @positivemantra. When he's not playing with his family of one loving wife and two caring daughters, he blogs at www.positivemantra.com. He travels to connect to himself and the universe.