Twitter discriminates against new users and blogs

This blog entry is in English, since it concerns the international Twitter and blog communities. Since I started my blog on January 28, I have been experiencing a problem that I already described in a former post in German. First I assumed that it’s my fault by making some stupid technical mistake, but meanwhile I found out that the cause of the problem is Twitter-made and affects a lot of people, especially new users and bloggers. It’s intensely described and discussed at a Twitter forum. To sum it up, folks like me who just recently started blogging and tweeting can’t tweet under a hashtag feed if the tweet contains an URL along with the hashtag. The message only shows up for my followers. What a bummer if you want to get active on Twitter and/or inform users on your posts!

Interestingly, in the first weeks I couldn’t tweet ANY URL to any non-follower. This has changed and by reading the discussion I learnt why. Apparently, I have become a more „reputable“ user, at least in Twitter’s view, and so I can now send links to lots of websites including my professional one, http://www.hottelet.de. However, my tweets containing a URL from this blog still don’t show up in the hashtag search, probably because this cute blog is not „well reputed“ enough (yet?). Some new Twitter users can’t even tweet google.com to non-followers!

I already contacted @hilfe (the German support) to solve the problem: no answer, then @support: no answer, and even Twitter’s press department, explaining that I am a journalist. Once again, you’ll guess it: no answer. Finally, a friend who is very experienced with web 2.0 issues directed me to the forum above. There I learnt from @episod, a member of Twitter’s platform team, that the cause of the hassle is Twitter’s index policy. Quote: „Twitter is an evolving product and the concept of search relevance and what-is-indexed versus what-is-not is continually changing. The best advice is to operate a great Twitter account with the aim of producing great content, and build a following around that content.“ Fine, but if the index keeps people from tweeting „great content“, it will be tough to build a strong following. As the last user’s entry of the forum states very critically: „The explanation given above by @episod … is high octane waffle. This amounts to censorship; it maybe done by an algorithm but Twitter programmed it. … This is the beginning of the end of Twitter. It provides favourable treatment to large corporates and established tweeters. Why should anyone bother taking the time to post a tweet with links! Just let Twitter’s big customers tweet; but soon there will not be many followers or posters of links! We need another platform that will take a more liberal less autocratic approach to censorship.“

When I asked Twitter’s market director Germany @rowbar for help, he directed me to FAQ, but this only vaguely explains the discriminating index policy. Keep in mind that it hasn’t been successful to prevent spam or malware being spread on Twitter.

IMHO, Twitter needs to make its index policy more transparent and democratic. It’s a huge player in communication worldwide and so it has to adhere to these principles. And it needs to respond to its users when they ask for help. That’s the job of @support. If you agree, please spread the word about this issue, maybe even link to this blog and make your voice heard by the Twitter officials and managers! Maybe you can think of a more creative and effective protest than this blog post? Let me know!

I will try to post this piece and its URL in Twitter’s forum and I am curious if they will let me publish it there🙂

Update, February 25: Twitter published my entry at https://dev.twitter.com/discussions/9620. This is fair and helps to make the issue more public and transparent. On the other hand, the German market director has not replied to my last tweet to him. I tweeted this post to him and asked for his position/comment. Let’s see how things will develop…

Update, March 10: I wrote a new post on the issue: https://hottelet.wordpress.com/2013/03/10/twitter-explain-your-motives-to-your-users/

14 Gedanken zu „Twitter discriminates against new users and blogs

  1. I am in the same position, just starting out. It is far from a welcoming policy! I don’t understand how you can get round it if you are working in a small niche or technical area, say, where you will only ever have a small core following and even without urls my hashtags are not being indexed. Thank you for pursuing it and for posting your experience

  2. Meanwhile I had a brief exchange with Twitter’s press department, but I am still waiting for its substantial explanation of the index policy. I will keep you updated here.

  3. Perhaps we can make a twitter page just geared to this topic to group everyone in one place where twitter reps can find us in one place. Divided we fall.

  4. Something easliy found and relevent. Lets bring this to the masses!! It was very difficult to find you guys so sure I’m not the only one. There’s nothing out there either. I just serached for twitterproblems, hashtagsandlinks etc and nothing good came out of it.

  5. hmmmm…how about calling it GRINDING HALT -YOUR NON-STOP TWITTER PROBLEM /SOLUTION BLOG….might be too catchy, but just came to might thought I’d send.

  6. So i’ve decided to slam twitter on FB with my posts since I’m not getting a response from @support. LIke their page and do the same https://www.facebook.com/pages/Twitter/278029242253904?ref=ts&fref=ts. Over 9.5M followers there! I just posted a link to this blog as well under their post – Take a moment to read and follow our suggestions about password security. NOTE: you must comment on an exsiting post for your post to post! You cannot just add a new one. Their security settings won’t allow it.

  7. Same problem here. I posted below 3 times wondering why it didn’t work.
    Federal Budget:Pitting Canadian against Canadian in a race to the bottom #cndpoli http://t.co/cU4gbV2pm3

    So after reading this thread I tried
    Federal Budget:Pitting Canadian against Canadian in a race to the bottom.Full article TaprootCanada.ca #cndpoli

    This tweet without the link showed up.
    Frustrating, I haven’t been checking and have been assuming my # were working.

  8. I wanted to add something I have just found out. I have started having this problem with my tweets in the last few days. Apparently, if I use a URL shortening service plus an hashtag my tweets wont’s show up in the hashtag stream nor in the search results. Now… on the contrary, they are visible at Topsy.com, which apparently use the same APIs. Why Topsy picks them up and Twitter not? This is sounding quite suspicious to me, uh?

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