Six weeks ago, I got a note from Biz Stone at Twitter, as did an unspecified number of other users who had autofollowing enabled on our accounts. The core of his message: "We're going to discontinue autofollow because this behavior sends the wrong message. Namely, it is unlikely that anyone can actually read tweets from thousands of accounts which makes this activity disingenuous."
Spam is clearly increasing on the site as new users open accounts with hopes of getting rick quick. Autofollowing exacerbates the issue.
I wrote a response to Biz at Twitter, asking:
- What would happen if Twitter masked the actual numbers of following/followers displayed? (Similar to LinkedIn's 500+)
- What if Twitter enabled segmentation on-site (e.g. Facebook friend lists, Friendfeed rooms, or WeFollow tags) or filtered-only following?
- What if Twitter offered analytics? Would user behavior change? E.g. Mailana shows I only message 150 people anyway, so why follow more?
- What if Twitter charged users who apply a "reach and frequency" broadcast approach, for whom autofollow and stats are quite important? (Hello, freemium.)