Tweets Are Best Served Read

When Twitter introduced expanded images and videos in-stream, it meant that the timeline would become less useful for power users. The Twitter timeline was traditionally full of plain text information – quickly skim-able and digestible. Now the timeline is going to be cluttered with marketer / advertiser “a-picture-is-worth-a-thousand-words” look-at-me’s.

It’s a shame.

To me, it feels like Twitter has forgotten what its core product does and what its users really want. Change for the sake of change or tossing something against the wall to see what sticks doesn’t make many users happy.

Yes, some will enjoy the ability to see photos and videos (images uploaded to Twitter’s service and Vine videos for now) more prominently. However, the attempt to hold new user’s hands and bow before the ad dollars, is once more leaving traditional tweeters shaking our heads in a manner reserved for a child peeking into a bee-hive. Twitter has created some awkward moments for the timeline while moving the more useful plain text a bit further down the timeline. The user experience is suffering for the majority who want Twitter to focus on its core product and use case rather than become another Facebook.

Not everyone wants pretty Twitter images all over the timeline. Let’s face it, plain text saves time, is portable, data plan friendly, quickly skim-able, and an island compared to the direction other social networks are going in. Should we forget that Facebook is admitting its teens are leaving the roost?

Snapchat (Twitter child) and Instagram (Facebook child) are visual experiences that draw the teen audience today. But, they await the next big thing in my opinion.

Twitter (plain text friendly version) has legs that can carry it past anything I’ve experienced in the social media world though. Not only are teens discovering the usefulness of Twitter, but professionals, leaders, journalists, moms, dads, teachers … are being impacted by the plain text Twitter experience in many valuable ways.

Rather than travel into the Facebook house of mirrors, the Twitter management team should find a normal mirror and take a close look at itself and its core product. Improve the core (there’s lots that can be improved without sacrificing a good user experience or peeving off the power users).

So, you want to undo this nastiness, don’t you?

Undoing the Prettiness

If you’re running the iOS Twitter app, just do this :

Click Me > Gear icon > Settings > Image Previews (slide off)

If you’re using a desktop browser with the AdBlock extension, you can customize your AdBlock filters with something like this :[class="twitter-timeline-link media-thumbnail is-preview"] img

The Vine filter would look something like :[class="twitter-timeline-link media-thumbnail is-preview video"]


Twitter, please don’t make us cringe each time you have a new update. That’s not the path to a good user experience.

Speak Up, Tweet Up!

We can also voice our opinions. Users have the capacity to change things … don’t let anyone tell you differently. Good product teams listen intently to the waves across social media.

A film critic has a few choice and entertaining words on this topic :

Film Crit Hulk

He makes some real sense despite the caps.

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