One Simple Design Tweak That Would Actually Fix Twitter

Image: Twitter

Today, The Verge reported that Twitter “redesigned” its iOS app to put less emphasis on follower counts, a move in line with CEO Jack Dorsey’s recent comment that the platform has wrongly pushed users to “increase that number.”

How is Twitter correcting its error? Well, you can see for yourself below:

Before and after. (Screenshot: The Verge)

Squint hard enough, and you’ll see that the font size in the “after” screenshot above is slightly smaller. The Verge notes the change is “subtle,” but still doesn’t draw the eye to the number “nearly as much.”

It would be easy to dismiss this effort as a pathetically minor tweak in the face of the many, many serious issues facing the platform. Personally, however, I think it’s a step in the right direction. If anything, it doesn’t go far enough.

Below is my own mockup of what an ideal version of Twitter would look like. This change also might seem subtle at first, but look closely, and you’ll notice that the font size on tweets has been reduced to render them all but illegible.

Perfection. (Screenshot: Twitter)

Speaking in New Delhi earlier this month, Dorsey noted that it was probably a mistake to show follower counts on profiles, admitting, “That may have been right 12 years ago, but I don’t think it is right today,” Slashdot reports. Similarly, it may have seemed like the right move to make tweets readable in 2006, but knowing what we know now, I think we can all agree it was not.

Compare, for instance, the feed of President Donald Trump as it appears now and how it would look after my proposed design change.

Before and after. (Screenshot: Twitter)

On the left, you can read a variety of alarming, unhinged statements from the man who commands one of the world’s largest nuclear arsenals. On the right, you can still read those statements, but only if you are, like, really trying to see that sort of thing.

In addition to its obvious aesthetic benefits, this design tweak would solve most (if not all) of Twitter’s problems with moderation. By making all tweets equally unreadable, no would could say they were being unfairly silenced. Everyone would still have their voice—it would just be much, much quieter.

And it’s not just me who seems to be rethinking the value of clearly displaying text on Twitter. Take a stroll through the Twitter feed of Dorsey himself, and you’ll notice he’s mostly been using his account to post un-captioned images from his trip to India. If that sounds a lot like Instagram, I have some bad news: The platform’s parent company, Facebook, is hard at work making Instagram more like Hell, too.

[The Verge]

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