CNN Ruined Twitter

It’s time to reclaim Twitter from brands and celebrities.

CNN Ruined Twitter
Photo by Daniel Tafjord / Unsplash

Twitter was the Wild West when it launched. The lack of product definition meant anything was possible. Brands had not yet invaded, nor had celebrities, or other marketers. Everything was fresh and new.

A year after I joined Twitter, it’s stitching began to fray.

CNN acquired the @CNNBRK account from a London-based user in 2009. The feed, which pulled headlines from CNN, was the most popular Twitter account in the world with a few hundred thousand followers.

Ashton Kutcher, looking for a boost in publicity, challenged CNN in the race to a million followers. With that, the floodgates opened.

Other news services tried to replicate the popularity of @CNNBRK. Soon, every news outlet created their own accounts to parrot headlines. Celebrities jumped in, seeing the potential to increase their brand.

Kutcher won the race to a million followers and Twitter changed forever. The service pivoted from quick communication among friends to blasting information to the world.

Fast forward a decade.

As 2018 began, 25% of the Twitter accounts I followed were news feeds. Those accounts generated over 75% of the content I saw in my Twitter timeline.

I had enough.

In a moment of frustration, I unfollowed every news feed I followed. Then, high on the adrenaline of a rash decision, I pruned almost every brand account.

At the time I’m writing this, I follow 73 Twitter accounts. Here are a few things I’ve learned since The Great Twitter Purge of 2018:

I Enjoy Twitter More Than I Did Before The Purge.

Twitter felt like a burden. I’d wake up every morning and 100’s of new tweets would beg for attention. Now, I receive 25 or 30 at a time. It’s simpler. Cleaner. Much easier to follow and enjoy.

I Spend Less Time On Twitter.

Fewer tweets = less time. Not that spending time on Twitter is a bad thing, but checking the Twitter app less means I have more time to do other things. I read more than I did when Twitter was constantly demanding my attention.

I’ve Grown To Appreciate Apple News.

One of the Twitter feeds I removed was @WashingtonPost, which I pay for a subscription. I thought Twitter was the best way to stay up to date and get the most from the subscription. Now I read the Washington Post in the Apple News App. The reading experience is more enjoyable and I am not bothered with editorials, entertainment, and sports stories I don’t care to read. Apple News is a well designed and well executed app.

I Enjoy Vice News Tonight Much More.

Vice News Tonight is the best news program available. The journalism is top notch and the production value is comparable to none. However, following the @ViceNews Twitter feed meant that by the time the show aired each night I knew every story that was being covered. Combined with the other news feeds I followed, I also knew all the details they were covering. Now, I watch Vice News Tonight and I learn new details. Sure, I might have seen the top stories in Apple News, but Vice’s coverage is unique.

Removing news and branded content from my Twitter feed was one of the best decisions I’ve made in 2018. Can you do it too? Challenge yourself to observe how much branded content you consume and how that content affects you.

Justin Cox Justin Cox

Justin Cox is a donut-loving, word-writing, nonprofit consultant based in Orlando. He also runs The Writing Cooperative on Medium. Come say hello!