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Twitter To Show You Tweets You Don't Want To See

Twitter And Facebook Grow Ever Closer

The beauty of a social network is the almost infinite options for customisation. On a platform like Twitter, this means that you can choose exactly who you follow and who you don’t, ensuring that you only see content which you want to see – barring the odd promoted tweet, which most people are pretty adept at scrolling past by now anyway.

The people at Twitter, however, think they know better. They think that you don’t know what you want to see, that there is whole world of tweets hiding just beyond your own woefully inadequate Timeline, and they have taken on the burden of bringing you everything you didn’t know you wanted.

What this means for the user is that Twitter is going to start showing you tweets from people you don’t follow based on a variety of obscure metrics: how popular a tweet is, how many people you do follow have favourited or retweeted it, and various other considerations which for simplicity’s sake we’ll refer to as an algorithm.

The move has garnered a generally negative reaction from users, with many expressing the view that the entire point of Twitter – what marks it apart from Facebook in particular – is the degree of control which an individual has over what they see. Many have also pointed out that Twitter already has a function for showing popular tweets from across the platform called the Discover Feed, what TechCrunch labelled ‘the feed that no-one reads’. Pushing this into users’ main Timeline seems like an insidious way of Twitter gaining greater control over where people’s eyes are directed – a move which could only be seen to be made to appeal to marketers who are looking for greater reassurance that their posts will get the attention they pay for.

The move marks the latest manoeuvre in the increasingly weird love/hate relationship between Facebook and Twitter, in which each claims to be wholly unique while getting more and more similar to each other with each update. Facebook already shows you posts from people you aren’t friends with which feature your friends, or which your friends commented on, or which have people in them that look a bit like your friends.

Part of the problem is that this change fails to recognise the flexibility of the ‘favourite’ button on Twitter. People use it in a variety of ways: to bookmark something for later reading, to signal to the original tweeter that their post has been seen, as well as a simple statement of appreciation. Twitter seems to want to push people towards using it in much the same way that the ‘Like’ button is used on Facebook; less sophisticated, but more straightforward and – of course – easier to track and monetise.

The change seems to be here to stay, despite user protests. With Twitter’s population rising and the company still some way from making a profit it’s understandable that they should want to make the process of monetising tweets more straightforward for themselves, but muscling their way into everyone’s Timeline seems like a rather clumsy way of going about it.

Douglas is an English Literature graduate who has written about everything from music to food to theatre, now a content creator for Social Media Frontiers. No topic too large or too small. Follow him @DouglasAtSMF.

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Twitter To Show You Tweets You Don't Want To See Reviewed by Anonymous on Friday, August 22, 2014 Rating: 5
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