I’m growing rather tired of loads of complaints on Twitter… about Twitter. Redesigns, changes to the chronological listing of tweets, pictures appearing in-stream by default are common complaints I keep on reading. This has prompted analysis, and even odd browser-based work arounds.
Why is all of this so annoying? Because the solution is both simple and right. Use a third-party Twitter client to access Twitter, and the problems go away (for now at least – more about that below).
What do I mean by a third-party Twitter client? Essentially a software utility to access Twitter that is not run or developed by Twitter itself. This means that the utility is designed to give you, the user, control over what you see, and not let
You need to sign up for an account with Twitter, which itself has now become more complicated – you need to use the mobile signup to avoid having to download an app – and then use the login details in a third-party app.
So what are your options?
On Mac: I absolutely swear by Tweetbot. Buy it. It may cost £13.99 but it’s worth it. Multiple column views, no ads, elegant interface, stable, list management, super mute filters (don’t like XFactor or the Daily Mail – gone!), and sync with its iOS counterparts. Alternatives are Osfoora, Janetter, Hibari and Echofon.
On Blackberry: Übersocial.
There is also the web-based Hootsuite, although I have always found its interface too clunky for personal use. The list above is also not exhaustive – do suggest additions, amendments in the comments.
So what’s the problem with this?
Twitter became big in the first place because the platform was great in two interlinked ways – users felt they were in control of what they saw, rather that Twitter controlling that (on Facebook it has always felt like EdgeRank controls you), and the dozens of software utilities that sprung up around Twitter meant everyone could find something that suited them.
But that sort of network is not easy to monetise, as it is relatively simple to avoid advertising. This explains Twitter’s quest to restrict third party apps, and force its users (and especially new users) to use its own apps. So while you may be able to use Tweetbot or Janetter now, there is no guarantee that this will persist for ever more.
So download your third party app now. Persuade as many of your friends as possible to do the same. And then the user base of these apps will be considerable enough to make sure Twitter cannot close them.