Talking tech since 2003

In light of a recent update, it seems like everyone’s Twitter feed is going to get packed with unsolicited tweets.

Twitter is going to start showing you content from accounts you didn’t specifically follow, which is a somewhat large change from the solely user-dictated feed that existed before. Their rationale is explained on the What’s a Twitter Timeline page,

Additionally, when we identify a Tweet, an account to follow, or other content that’s popular or relevant, we may add it to your timeline. This means you will sometimes see Tweets from accounts you don’t follow. We select each Tweet using a variety of signals, including how popular it is and how people in your network are interacting with it. Our goal is to make your home timeline even more relevant and interesting.

I’m not an avid Twitterer––my followers currently consist of my girlfriend, my best friend, and my boss––so this change isn’t really going to impact me. But to those careful Twitter artisans who craft who they follow, and what they post to optimize enjoyment, this change could very easily throw off the feng shui. And how far could it go? Will it become a place where Twitter can increase their ad revenue? If you search for hotels in Arizona, could tweets from hotels start popping up on your feed?

But, to be fair, it happened to Facebook and we’ve all sort of gone along with it. Something like 20% of my newsfeed comes from posts that my friends have liked that I have no other connection to––and you know what? I’ve found that I like that aspect of Facebook. I don’t want to have to like a million things in order to see cool stuff, my friends can do that. It keeps me connected to the world by a strange invisible web of likes and shares. I feel like the same logic applies to Twitter. But maybe people don’t want another Facebook, maybe that privacy is what makes Twitter different.

Apparently, this change was quietly introduced a few weeks ago as a test, and is now applicable to everyone. Users seem to be generally annoyed so far, but as time goes on maybe that will change. I can see the usefulness of it, but I also understand the exasperation with the constant rate at which our social media is being tweaked. Twitter seemed to be working very well for millions of people, why go and change it? Forward movement has to be made at some point, let’s see if this is one of those steps for Twitter.


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