We Know You Have Alt Text, Twitter

Users have repeatedly asked for a method to provide alternative text for images on Twitter. Since so many of Twitter’s features today are just codified versions of what the community invented on its own, many of us hoped Twitter would just build some proper support.

Instead, Twitter pushes for more and more ways to get users to embed images, totally failing to actually make them useful to users who cannot view them. The latest effort is Twitter’s #GIFparty, where my timeline is now full of bandwidth-hogging, battery-draining, context-free animated GIFs. Like these from Twitter:

Which were preceded by these gems leading up to the announcement:

If, like me, you block Twitter on non-Twitter sites via Ghostery or similar, then you are seeing them as I intended — embedded without images.

Twitter animation showing how to search for animated GIFs. But here’s the rub: we know there is at least some form of meta data available in text form. The Twitter announcement and corresponding animated GIF tweet both explain that you can search for an image. Using text, of course. Text that describes the image (probably not very good text, but certainly more than no text at all).

Is that text content exposed anywhere in the tweet? Perhaps as some form of alternative text? Maybe a clue what I’ll see before I tell my Twitter client to use my bandwidth to pull down the animation? Nope.

That’s disappointing. It is not surprising, however, when you consider that you as the user are not Twitter’s customer. Your sole role as a user is to continue to create content that draws users who create more content, and so on. After all, Twitter can’t satisfy its real customers if you aren’t creating Twitter’s compelling content.

Why Can’t Someone See Twitter Images?

I’ll just re-print my list from a prior post:

You Suggested the Community Has a Solution, Right?

I did. Thanks for noticing. The community has a few solutions to the non-animated GIFs, which I also outlined in that other post, but am re-printing here:

As for solutions for the animated GIFs (which we all know aren’t GIFs), we’ll have to see if tweeting text-replies will be the best fit.



Thanks, Adrian, for bringing this up!

A couple of years ago, I’ve asked Hootsuite to add an option for adding alt text. My suggestion didn’t get too many votes, so nothing has happened. It’s disappointing because accessibility is not a nice-to-have feature and fixing it shouldn’t depend on winning the popularity contests. That in itself is worthy of a separate rant!



[…] We Know You Have Alt Text, Twitter – Adrian Roselli – https://adrianroselli.com/2016/03/we-know-you-have-alt-text-twitter.html […]

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