This past weekend many bloggers and website owners were met with non-responsive tweet counters on their shared pages. This isn’t a bug, this is its discontinuation.
In a recent blog post, Twitter announced that as part of a wider array of changes, it would be ‘deprecating’ its API that enabled the tweet count feature. Twitter’s management has been critical of its profit margins since Jack Dorsey, a co-founder of the Twitter brand, returned as chief executive in June. Because of this, there has been an air of change in the Twitterverse.
As part of an overhaul to the design of Tweet and follow buttons, Twitter is switching to a ‘modern, high-contrast’ look that is simplified by removing the share counter that appears next to the button.
So it is not simply the removal of a feature that’s occurring here – it is an upgrade that will be noticeable in many of Twitter’s visual assets. As far as the back end of Twitter’s development, these visible changes come as part of a larger shift over to Twitter’s new distributed database, called ‘Manhattan.’
Twitter described the share counter as unable to count ‘replies, quote Tweets, Variants of your URLs’ or the discrepancy between the number of followers of individuals who share a particular piece of content.
Whilst this suggests that Twitter doubts the quality of data that the share counter reflected, it is still a controversial change. Marketers, such as ourselves, as well as bloggers and other online businesses, value share counts on Twitter as a quick way to measure the popularity of a post.
There are plug-ins that are purported to display share counts – including Twitter – however many choose not utilise them due to latency issues when integrated on-site.
Many users are seeing this move as Twitter ‘shooting themselves in the foot’. Many are arguing that these changes will make Twitter’s share integration less of a priority on potentially valuable content (that might have become popularised on Twitter, increasing traffic).
Further, many users rely on ‘social proofing’ to judge the quality of content. With Twitter removing the ability to view the amount of shares a piece of content has, it risks readers going to alternative social networks to review that content.