One of the most annoying things about Twitter is the way that following is handled. In concept it works fine: follow people that interest you, that person will receive a message once you follow and then they can decide if they would like to follow you back. This system breaks down for a number of reasons…
- People (and robots) simply follow accounts with the hope of getting followed back. Many of these accounts have thousands of followers so it is infeasible for them to actually read the tweets of their followers.
- If you don’t follow people that follow you, they will often unfollow you as a result. This virtual spite is made easier by tools like JustUnfollow which automate the follow and unfollow process simply based on who follows you. I have less of an issue with tools like UnTweeps which allow users to track inactive accounts to unfollow, not just to unfollow non-followers.
- People judge Twitter accounts by the number of followers versus how many accounts that person follows. If you follow more people than follow you then you are considered a loser and a waste of a follow back. This is a general social networking complaint of mine: the focus on followers and friends as if it were real life.
- A lot of bots abuse all of these practices. They follow, unfollow if not followed back and then repeat the process over and over again. Some of these bots represent real businesses which is pathetic.
Twitter could fix the bot aspect of this problem by simply limiting the number of follows and unfollows per day to something reasonable like 20. The annoying habits of actual users is much tougher to solve though.