Twitter Considers Dumping Follower Count and Launches 'Friend' Email


It’s well known that your Twitter follower account can be gamed by buying followers or using bots to follow and then unfollow people repeatedly; it’s so common that someone even invented an app to determine how “fake” your followers are.

Twitter has recognized this issue, and cofounder Ev Williams suggested yesterday that there might be a better tool than follower count to help determine a user’s influence. At a panel at the BuzzFeed headquarters, he spoke about retweets possibly being a better metric.

Williams suggested that, after the recent restriction of Twitter’s API, which was intended in part to usher users back to the site’s official apps, collecting deeper engagement data wouldn’t be a problem. With fuller control over apps, he said, Twitter could, for example, “measure whether or not a tweet was requested in a timeline” — indicating that it wasn’t just made available to a user, but actually read.

I personally find it unlikely that Twitter will entirely dump follower accounts; users are entirely too invested in that number to let it go completely, but I can see adding a retweet count along followers as a great addition to the overall snapshot in your profile.

In addition to considering better influencer metrics, Twitter has also begun sending email newsletters suggesting new followers. According to The Next Web, the emails are a way to deepen user engagement:

The email is a handful of people that you may want to follow, no more, no less. It looks to be more use of the technology of the social summary tool Summify, which it acquired in January. It previously used this tech to produce the weekly summary emails it began sending in April.

This email doesn’t have a separate opt-out option; it’s part of Twitter’s “news and info” email if you want to opt out. But it will be interesting to keep an eye on how Twitter determines its recommendations, yes?