Twitter, TV, and Content Filters

by Ian Rosenwach on 9.27.2009

What if instead of the channels you see on TV, everyone in the world had a camera and a channel?  You could select a person’s channel and then watch their videos. When you turn on your TV, you would see the channels of people you like.

In reality we have TV networks that act as content “filters”. These companies make decisions on what content we view and act as a filter. Content decisions are based on attractiveness to advertisers, potential for mass appeal, star power, and a host of other factors.  Movies have even bigger filters.

Paper_FiltersTwitter has no filters and some people think there’s a lot of “junk” content, there which leads to the question –  is the “democratization of content” a good thing? 

Twitter gives us a great view into that. If it takes something unique to create compelling content, we can assume that not everyone has “it”.  Content creators who have “it” will be on Twitter and have followers that read their content.  Those who do not have “it” will not generate followers or an audience.

Another perspective is the world of search.

Yahoo = filtered

Editors choose what appears on the home page. They put a lot of thought and spend a lot of money deciding what types of content has the most mass appeal. Lately, they’ve been trying to let people to customize the content more so people can be their own filter.

Google = no filter

Google asks users what specific filter they’d like to use in a particular moment in time. No editors, no filters. Just the user, a keyword, the web. The keyword is the filter.  It’s safe to say this worked.

The $1 million question is – does the mass market need filters or is the ideal a completely democratized content platform?  TV or Twitter.  I realize there’s no right answer, but it does make you think about the nature of content and what the future may bring.

If everyone creates compelling content – the ideal content distribution platform would make it as easy as possible for as many people as possible to create content.  Twitter is the best example out there today.  Billions of people have access to the web and 140 characters is easy content to create.

To contrast, YouTube is not as easy to become a content creator.  People need to have the ability to record a video.  Sure, it’s a democratized video platform, but any way you slice it it’s easier to input 140 characters than to film a movie and upload it.

If a limited number of people create compelling content – we need filters, like on TV.  And someday, someone will need to slap a useful filter on Twitter content to make it easier to consume.

Vote below and tell us what you think!



  • If Twitter was to add “content filters” would that dissuade individuals from creating additional content? Does content filter mean content elimination or content illumination?

  • Ian

    Good point in that it could dissuade individuals and spur a “survival of the fittest” environment. But, one could say that’s a good thing…

    Filter applies to content discovery. Some content becomes less discoverable, some content more discoverable.

  • Pingback: Twitter is Dead. Long Live Twitter. | Digital Ian()

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