Making Twitter useable again

When Twitter first appeared I thought it was wonderful. It enabled me to plug into the streams-of-consciousness of people I admired or valued. But over the years my feed has become cluttered and polluted by ads, nonsense and hysteria — to the point where I almost never use it.

I realise that the ads are inevitable — after all, Twitter is a surveillance capitalist operation (though I would happily pay to have it ad-free). But most of the other crap comes from people innocently, maliciously or lazily retweeting stuff. So, as Alexis Madrigal pointed out ages ago, retweeting is a large part of the problem.

I mentioned this to Charles Arthur (Whom God Preserve) at lunch yesterday and he sent me a link to “How to turn off retweets for everyone” by Luca Hammer. Turns out there are various ways to do it. The complicated ones (at least for non-geeks) are via the API or a Javascript snippet. The easy way is via something I’d never spotted: mute retweets through your Twitter settings! You just add the phrase “RT @“ to your ‘Muted Words’.

Luca points out that this simple method doesn’t provide a comprehensive solution: there will be some ‘false positives’ that the tech solutions will catch. But as a first step I’m trying it. Stay tuned.

Luca is an accomplished network analyst btw. Lots of interesting stuff on his blog.