7 Features We Really, Really Want To See On Twitter

I’ve written lists like this before, but that was 18 months ago, and the only suggestion that Twitter implemented was the retweet button – and they kind of screwed that up, too.

So, time for an update – here are seven pretty big (and in some cases, really quite basic) features and add-ons Twitter really needs.

1. A Way To Edit Tweets

Why can’t we edit our tweets? Everybody makes mistakes.

This would only need to be a window of 30 seconds or so. In fact, that’s ideal, as it’s enough time to notice and correct a typo or bad link, but short enough to prevent people changing their statement after a bad reaction, or using it as an opportunity for some kind of abuse.

The lack of an edit is the biggest failing Twitter has made to date. Okay, so you can’t edit on Facebook, either, but at least there it’s relatively easy to quickly delete your update/comment and re-post. And it’s less damaging, too. On Twitter, you know that first tweet has still been seen (and perhaps actioned) by a bunch of people. Quora lets you edit, and they don’t even have a time limit.

2. One-Click Access To A List Of People We’ve Blocked

Everybody blocks from time to time, and then weeks and months go by, and maybe you’ve changed your mind and want to give people a second chance. So, off you go, working your way through your memory banks and trying to remember who it was you’ve blocked and… it never happens.

With one-click access to a list of everyone you’ve blocked you could quickly and easily revoke and let a few back in.

3. Filters

One word: baseball.

Here are some more: blip.fm, Farmville, football, The Apprentice, Formula 1, Twilight and Jim Davidson. I have absolutely zero interest in any of these subjects. You’ll have your own list. The point is: why can’t we filter out the stuff we don’t care about?

Even if it could be done on a temporary basis during certain sporting events, or runs of TV shows, or utterly tedious things like the upcoming Royal Wedding – a kind of ‘mute button’ if you will – it would dramatically increase your signal-to-noise ratio, and make Twitter a much better place to hang out.

Existing filters could be edited and removed at any time, and Twitter could even put everything in a big ‘junk’ folder just in case you were missing out on something good.

(And yes – I know some apps like TweetDeck let you add ‘on the fly’ filters. That’s not the same thing at all. I want it inbuilt and permanent.)

I wrote recently about being able to follow topics – if Twitter ever implements this, then another way to have filters would being able to unfollow topics, too. That is, you put a big X against topics you don’t care about and Twitter makes sure you never see ’em.


4. Better Privacy Settings

As most people know, Twitter’s block feature is a joke. Somebody blocks you? Simply log off and, as if by magic, you can now read their tweets. Lots of users have individuals they want to avoid, but the only option they have now to ensure total privacy is to protect their tweets – and if you’re forced to do that on a social network to avoid just one person, something is wrong with the system.

The solution is simple – Twitter needs three levels of privacy.

  1. Open – Your profile and tweets are completely public. Blocking users works as it does now (i.e., badly)
  2. Partially Open – Only logged-in users can see your profile or tweets, unless they’re blocked
  3. Protected – Only people you specifically authorise can see your profile/tweets

It’s not rocket science. People give Facebook an absolute ton of jip about their privacy issues – isn’t it time to shine the spotlight on Twitter?

5. TweetRank

I’d love Twitter to implement a version of Google’s PageRank system – let’s call it TweetRank – and begin to score and rate individual accounts according to the ways in which they behave, handing out penalties to users who show a blatant and repeated disregard for the rules.

This would include cloaking, automated messages, bio stuffing, paid links, URL redirection and linking to known spammers. Get caught doing this stuff, and Twitter issues you with a penalty, which directly affects how well you place in Twitter search and how long it takes for your tweets to show up on the network. To anyone.

(Learn more about TweetRank here.)

6. A Proper Personal Messaging System

Twitter’s direct message system is and always has been absolute rubbish. It doesn’t need a simple fix – it needs a complete overhaul.

Much fanfare was made earlier this year about Facebook’s new messaging system – the so-called “Gmail Killer” – and Twitter missed a real opportunity to take on Facebook and even Google months ago with their own killer product.

Twitter needs to add folders, spam controls, grouped conversations and the ability to mass-move/delete messages, remove the character limit, and make the whole thing a lot more intuitive and user-friendly.

Twittermail, if you will.

7. Conversational Tweet Threading

HootSuite gives you a ‘view conversation’ feature on tweets, and it works pretty well. Why isn’t this a basic feature on Twitter? All we need is a ‘view conversation’ link on every tweet that’s a reply and Twitter could easily work out the history of that discussion. I’d love to see something presented in a similar way to how the iPhone handles text messages.

Sure, Twitter isn’t the ideal platform for long, drawn-out debates, but the existence of a reply button means that we’re supposed to be chatting to each other. Threaded conversations would make that process a lot better, and would also allow other people to get the bigger picture (which might help save a couple of foot-in-mouth situations).


Seven things. That not too much to ask – is it?