What’s Wrong with Twitter

on July 15, 2015

I love Twitter. I hate Twitter. Twitter has become, for me, more important than even email, a regular report for the things going on in the world. It is also overwhelmed by junk that makes reading most difficult the iPhone.

When there is real news breaking in the world, Twitter produces the most important information. And through the day, you get news, entertainment, education, and more. But there is still a big problem — it produces a lot of valuable information but provides very little for the service to make a profit.

I’ve been a Twitter member for seven years and have watched it move from silly reports (“I just got up”) to much more useful information. Unfortunately, there is also a lot more junk every day, much of it endless advertising. And far too many posts by people using much worse style to create what they say.

The real key is Twitter on the iPhone (or, secondarily Android). It’s actually at its best on the iPad but a tablet or, even worse, a laptop, isn’t the best choice for the feed. The images are a lot better on the iPad but it is kind of hard to keep it in your pocket whenever you want it. The phone is often just too small for what is displayed.

cucumber_adI have used a number of apps, but mainly Tweetbot and Twitter’s own effort. The recent experience of Tweetbot, long my favorite, is trying so many different changes that it has become almost impossible to use. Between the ads thrown in by the app, the ads thrown in by comment posters, and ads with references to vendors, they create a flood of junk you don’t want.

For example, this is a typical Twitter display. Do I care about CucumberTony? Not really. And on Tweeter, you can expect every three or four such screens to include an ad like this. Add the number of individual posts and it gets worse.

One of the worst problems with Tweetbot posts on iPhone is inserts. The problems are actually all over the place but the worst feature is inserts that simply do not fit because they are too small to read and cannot be enlarged adequately.

Consider this one, not one of the worst from Re/code. The basic display is too small:


Click once to show the display on this example and you get the example, which is still unreadable on a phone:


And if you click a second time, you get an image that is much bigger and harder to read. You can slide across the screen but it can’t be read. And you cannot rotate the phone 90 degrees, which would make it readable.


There are many other problems. Just about all of the frequent submissions by Forbes are unreadable because of the announcement, ads, and other additions the publisher has crammed in that leave articles unreadable.

Some of the behavior of iPhone images is terrible. When you touch the screen in certain places–its similar but different on Tweetbot and Tweeter–the iPhone or other phone features block the screen until you tap again. (touch features should improve this in the upcoming iOS 9.)

So far the trend looks to get worse. I have no desire to raise money from anything I post. But that is not true for many other posts who are desperate for earnings. And the harder they try, from both posters and the app owners, the worse it gets for readers.

I can’t give up because it means too much to me. But it sure is getting worse.