Twitter Demetricator in Slate

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Twitter Demetricator in Slate

Slate Magazine’s chief technology writer, Will Oremus, wrote an insightful piece analyzing Twitter Demetricator and its effects. Speaking about his initial impressions of Twitter without the metrics:

Without really meaning to, I’d been glossing over tweets that had relatively few likes and paying extra attention to those that had many. I had even subconsciously developed a sort of multiplier for various Twitter users based on the size of their followings, so that a tweet by a relatively obscure user that garnered 10 likes would stand out in my feed more than one by a famous user that got 100 likes. And in threads with lots of replies, I had been checking like counts as though they were an official scorecard of who was “winning” the conversation.

Later, he reflects on his experience:

…you might be surprised at how drastically you can change your Facebook or Twitter experience just by hiding a few little numbers. Indeed, it’s almost impossible to comprehend just how central metrics are to the Twitter experience until you install Demetricator. Only when I tried it did I realize that my eyes were instinctively flicking to a tweet’s retweet and favorite counters before I even processed the tweet itself. Only when I tried Demetricator did I understand how much I relied on those signals to evaluate a tweet—not only its popularity or reach, but its value.

Will contextualizes his impressions within the current moment, when social media companies are under siege for their roles in everything from their effects on mental health to the ways they were weaponized in the recent US election.

I’ve been reading Will’s writing for years, as he’s one of the best journalists out there analyzing technology from a broader perspective. I encourage you to read the whole piece.