Jack Dorsey doesn’t want you to worry about your follower count.
He and fellow founders Noah Glass, Biz Stone and Evan Williams didn’t consider ‘all the dynamics that could ensue afterwards’ as they prepared Twitter for its 2006 launch, Dorsey noted during a talk Monday in New Delhi.
‘It is actually incentivizing you to increase that number. That may have been right 12 years ago, but I don’t think it is right today,’ he said. ‘I think what is more important is the number of meaningful conversations you’re having on the platform. How many times do you receive a reply?’
Twitter has been thinking a lot about meaningful conversations in recent months. Like Facebook, it has faced scrutiny and criticism about the ways in which social media networks get abused by trolls, bullies and disinformation. Those companies have also drawn fire because of the perception that they censor certain voices, especially conservative ones.
For the record, the most popular Twitter accounts have tens of millions of followers. The top three as of August, according to Statista, are singer Katy Perry (107 million), singer Justin Bieber (104 million) and former US president Barack Obama (102 million).
‘We have been considering this for a while and we have to do [it] in the right way. We can’t just rush it out. We can’t make something which is distracting or takes anything away from the public record,’ he said.
Twitter was not immediately available for comment.
Last week, Williams told a Web Summit audience that showing the follower count is ‘detrimental’ because it turns Twitter into a popularity contest, Recode reported, even though those counts generated huge publicity for the social media platform in its early days.
And people do pay close attention to those numbers. Last month, for instance, President Donald Trump (55 million followers) slammed Twitter, suggesting it had a political bias after his follower count dropped by about 300,000 in July.
But Twitter says that its occasional user purges stem from its focus on the ‘health of the service,’ as it tries to remove bots and fake accounts.
Every aspect of the platform is under review, including the ‘like’ button, Twitter noted last month.