Twitter’s “You might also be interested in…” is Dumb

Dear Twitter,

You know that I love you. This feedback is coming from the heart.

You need to take a long hard look at your suggestion algorithm because you are making some obviously stupid recommendations, and you have for some time.

The problem with these stupid recommendations is that they decrease the effectiveness of your system, and they really can hurt people.

Story-time!

Many years ago before you IPOed I worked with a rather unpleasant individual. Let’s call him Pacman.

I followed Pacman on Twitter because I didn’t initially realize he was a subpar human being who wouldn’t recognize an original thought if it cracked him in the face with a sledgehammer.

Upon parting ways with Pacman, I unfollowed him. However we still have many connections in common so for years I have received a message like this one.

Twitter Suggests Pacman

 

Why’s this a problem?

In my case it’s just annoying. Pacman is a putz, but he is harmless; a funny footnote in my life. However there is a really serious problem here.

Twitter, you know that I used to follow this person, and that I don’t follow him anymore. Moreover you know that you have suggested him to me for years and I have never once clicked “Follow.”

What if my reasons for not wanting to follow him were painful?

I am quite certain that there are people out there who have unfollowed people they know due to assaults and other ugliness. Twitter, at best you are losing users who don’t want to be reminded of something terrible from their past. At worst, you are reminding people of something that you ought to stay out of.

A simple solution

This isn’t anything complicated.

  • If a user unfollows someone, don’t recommend them ever
  • If you keep recommending the same person and a few months go by without that user clicking “follow,” stop recommending them

Twitter, I am confident that these changes will improve your suggestion system, and overall experience. I’m also certain that you can do it.

Cheers,

The Geek Whisperer

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