— Evan Berman (@Scapes) February 6, 2016
If you were on Twitter on Saturday, you may have learned that Twitter is implementing a change to its timeline that will show tweets out of order; it intends to show you tweets that are “relevant” instead of tweets that are recent.
This move mirrors Facebook’s propensity to display “Top Stories” instead of “Most Recent” posts on its timeline. And we’ve known for a while now that Twitter has been moving increasingly to become more like Facebook, from its implementation of cover photos to pinned tweets.
Sure, displaying tweets according to Twitter’s algorithm may show you more tweets you’re actually interested in (or it may not, who knows) and it may also elevate popular tweets, so if your tweets turn out to be “relevant” they may get more eyeballs on them.
But that’s not what I go on Twitter for. I go on Twitter for two reasons:
- To keep up with the latest news.
- To gain insight into ideas and perspectives of people I admire who don’t necessarily get their voice heard most of the time.
Outside of not showing me the most up-to-date tweets, an algorithm that values popular views has no time for the obscure and idiosyncratic opinions of people I follow that I am interested in, and may even end up diminishing and silencing them.
Sources at Twitter tell me algorithms are strictly opt in.
— Josh Sternberg (@joshsternberg) February 6, 2016
I’m certain that I’m not the only one that uses Twitter this way, so it’s understandable that there was an eruption of discontent when people learned of this news. Yes, you can opt-out of this feature. But I am growing increasingly wary of Twitter’s trajectory for the future.
Twitter doesn't understand why people use it at all. Algorithm feeds & removing 140 character limit… RIP Twitter pic.twitter.com/pe2JpDrOi1
— VocalTurf ???????? (@VocalTurf) February 6, 2016
With rumours of Twitter also doing away with its 140 character limit, it seems like the platform is going through drastic changes. While Twitter’s attempts to be more “user-friendly” are not unfounded (since a lot of people using Twitter are likely also using Facebook, a lot more people will be accustomed to the changes), I am left wondering: Can Twitter execute well on its changes? Is Twitter losing what makes it unique? Will I decide to stay on Twitter after all of this?