Sometimes, Twitter can feel a little lonely, like a party where no one talks to you. Sure, celebrities and people with thousands of followers get feedback from fans regularly. But the median active Twitter user has 61 followers, and sometimes even clever tweets are met with dead silence.
Twitter created favs and RTs to encourage user interaction, but the microblogging service continues to play around with experimental features to keep users engaged. The latest experiment might end up making people feel shunned when their 140-character quips are ignored: Twitter is testing a feature that shows users how many people have read their tweets. A user in the test group reported the experiment to the Verge, and other users are commenting about the experiment on Twitter:
Coming soon? Twitter testing out new metric on some accounts. Look! A view count! pic.twitter.com/96Gy7clPjb
— Rob Ballantyne (@Popjournalism) March 22, 2014
Twitter tells me how many views my tweets get now and it’s depressing to see the ratio of people who read my tweets to those who fav.
— matt (@naztymatt) March 22, 2014
Twitter user @stephanie_skyy posted a screenshot showing her tweet with a view count. She told the Daily Dot that the view count appeared last week. For Stephanie, the view ticker isn’t appearing next to every tweet, so even for people with the test feature, it’s not a full rundown of who looks at content. Twitter has not responded to the Daily Dot’s request for comment on the feature, but looking at who is tweeting about it, it appears it’s a test for certain iOS users.
This feature could be helpful for brands and people who use Twitter to self-promote, since they will be able to analyze which tweets are more successful than others in a more precise way. But for regular users, I suspect installing a view count might end up souring the Twitter experience. Yes, it might be comforting to know that at least one person saw what you wrote, even if they didn’t respond in any way. But if you have this feature and see that no one favs your brilliant pun, now you’ll know exactly how many people saw it and chose to roll their eyes instead of hit the star button. There’ll be no more room to pretend that maybe people just overlooked it. RTs can feel like hugs and favs like pats on the back. But a view count will make users feel like they’re getting looked up-and-down and then passed by. It will make people feel rejected, not included.