Tweetless to tweet less

A product idea of how to reduce anxiety from social media

Source: Unsplash

The Problem

Suffering from the negative experience doesn’t stop people from using social media, instead, people spend even more time in recent years according to research. We can not simply move the addiction away from people, but we can provide tools that make it easier to get away from the bad effect.

The Challenge

The biggest challenge of making a digital well-being app is that we have to recognize the fact that we can only help people who want to be helped. We can not expect making an app to change people’s habit just by controlling the way they use our products, because we will probably ended up with the user tapping 10 more minutes button, or even worse, stopping using our product.

We have to understand, most people who are addicted to social media, will probably still spend a lot of time on it no matter what. Because they still need to check news regularly, or they have relationships on social media.

The Vision

Help the users to reduce anxiety from social media.

The Approach

Unfortunately, most social media apps, especially those from the Facebook family, do not have the open API to allow third party developers to modify the user experience of using social media. That is why I choose Twitter as the target platform to be improved.

The social media anxiety mostly comes from overusing it. Just take a look of the screenshot on the left, and it is obvious that Twitter has added a lot of elements to boost user engagement and made the product more addictive, which usually potentially increase people’s anxiety.

It is always a good idea to add some time management features to let the users has the control over how much time they are going to spend on it, even though many other time management apps have similar features. But since the app will be specifically designed for social media, it will have more premium features to track the way you use Twitter than competitors. Of course all the tracking data will stay on users phone, because unlike Twitter the app does not need user data to sell ads.

The app can use the local usage tracking data to generate statics graph. The data analytics will help the users address their issues in details. Other than that, users can record their everyday mood on the app to compared with Twitter usage.

Twitter users get anxious not because who they followed, but because what content they read on timeline. Although users can decide who to follow, but nobody can decide what other people tweet. Following someone on Twitter doesn’t necessarily mean liking all of their tweets. There will be unpleasing content on your timeline more or less. Although Twitter has its content control guideline allowing users to report violence and harmful content, but it never does its job enough good. The app can decide which tweets will stay by analyzing the content of tweets, which Twitter will never do.

The Prototype

Left: the official Twitter mobile. Right: Tweetless

We redesigned the timeline page from Twitter. Here is the reason how it will reduce social network anxieties for Twitter users.

Less Screen Time

Users can set time limitations to control the time spent on Twitter. A count down timer will remind the user how much time is left.

Less Engagement

The floating blue Add Tweet button on the right bottom corner is replaced by a grey button on the right top corner to decrease impulsive tweeting, especially for heavy users. All the engagement buttons, including reply, retweet, favorite, and share, are removed from the timeline to decrease unnecessary social engagement. Users can still access these functionalities on the secondary screen, of course.

Less Harmful Tweets

Tweetless will analyze the content of tweets through machine learning, and give suggestions if a tweet contains harmful information. The app will learn from users behavior. The more you confirm or report harmful content, the more accurate the suggestions will be. Users can turn off all possible harmful content under settings.

Less Notifications

Unlike the official Twitter, Tweetless provides better control over notifications, which have significant impact over user anxiety. Users can schedule the notification center so that it won’t bother you in certain period of time.

Source: #Sleepyteens: Social media use in adolescence is associated with poor sleep quality, anxiety, depression and low self-esteem

Less Stress

According to #Sleepyteens: Social media use in adolescence is associated with poor sleep quality, anxiety, depression and low self-esteem, there is direct correlation between the percent of tweets about depression/anxiety and time of day. The negative feeling accumulates through the day, and reaches to the climax in the night.

The app will ask users to write down their daily mood (wake up/10am/14:00/20:00), compare it with the time of day, and show them the correlation between mood and time. Well designed charts help users to form self-disciplined everyday routine.

More Self-discipline

The app will track how much time the users spend on Twitter and present the usage in diagrams by daily, weekly and monthly view. Of course, all the user data will remain on their phones only, because we don’t monetize this app through ads. If the users archive their daily usage goals, they will be rewarded with the equal amount of free subscription days.

More Control

Users can adjust their daily use on Twitter even further. The app supports removing replies and retweets from timeline, scheduled notification to reduce social network noises, screening mode to decrease harmful tweets, etc.


Since the app will not collect any user data, it is really hard to validate if we made the right design decision or not. But as the dog food eater, I will trace down how the app effects my everyday Twitter usage routine for sure.

If we decide to launch the app, our early user acquisition strategy will be cautiously adopting early users. We will target to users who are struggling in the social media anxiety issues as precisely as possible. To participate in the beta program will take part in the user research group as well. To exchange, we will give away life-long free subscription to them. The beta testers group has to be kept in a small scale, so we will be able to get in touch with everyone of them.

Here are some plans,

  • DM group: we will have a DM group on Twitter to get closer to our early adopters.
  • User survey: we will design the survey of what users expect from us.
  • Individual interview: we will select some heavy users of our app and request individual interviews if they would like to take part in.

Some assumptions that need to be validated,

  • Users, especially heavy Twitter users, will expect better than official Twitter app experience from us.
  • Users would skip the screen time control a lot. If it is true, we need to find another way to help our users to control their Twitter usage.
  • The usage graph might need to be iterated several times. We need user feedback as much as possible to make it better.

Big thanks to everyone who worked on this project: Simranjot Singh, Ying Lai, Armaghan Khalaj.


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