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Twitter Experiments With New Features

Tweeters: “We Don’t Like Change”

If there's one way in which Twitter has always been considered an improvement over Facebook, it’s the control it gives us over the content we see. While Facebook is increasingly guilty of swamping our newsfeeds with the things our acquaintances have chosen to like (as opposed to, y'know, us), Twitter has always brought us exactly what we ask for, without cramming too much corporate sponsorship down our throats. Aside from the occasional “promoted tweet", which is usually marked clearly enough to avoid being intrusive, Twitter works because what you follow is what you get - an increasingly rare phenomenon in the economically-driven world of social media.
However, as detailed in an official blog post, Twitter is about to begin toying with a new update that will show tweets in our newsfeeds from people we haven't actually chosen to follow. The update, made under the guise of the "spirit of experimentation", seems to go against everything Twitter stands for. Some will even be reminded of a few of the more questionable updates made by Facebook and YouTube in years gone by. 

According to the post, we'll be shown tweets they reckon we’ll find “interesting or entertaining”. While the more cynical of us may read “interesting” as “likely to make us buy a product", this is the internet - I'm sure Twitter's users will give the service the benefit of the doubt before assuming the change will ruin anyone’s lif--
OK, so Twitter's users are mildly perturbed to say the least. This is understandable, as the feature is reminiscent of the disastrous Facebook and YouTube updates which removed features, confused users and traded ease of use for placement of product. It's not too much of a jump to say forcing tweets onto our timelines could be just as bad. Twitter's users have made it loud and clear they like things the way they are, and will see the appearance of uninvited tweeters (most likely to be made by companies instead of people) as nothing but spam.

While I am mostly willing to give the update a chance (certainly more than the people in the comments above), I must admit that the change does suggest that Twitter have failed to learn from their predecessors. They seem to have have forgotten how easily redesigns and new features can alienate a website's fan base, and how they can turn the most seemingly untouchable of websites into a ghost town. Just look at Digg, whose status dropped from a web 2.0 powerhouse to something only a select few even remember - all in the space of one update.

If Twitter ignores these grievances, they risk opening the door for a competitor to fill the void they leave in the same way that Digg was completely replaced by Reddit.
But don't compose your farewell tweets just yet, as there's no guarantee the feature will even see the light of day.

Moreover, Twitter has also announced another, much more promising feature. Audio Card, an in-site app which allows its users to stream new music and audio on iOS and Android, was announced shortly prior to a far more positive user reaction. Made in partnership with SoundCloud, Audio Card is currently partnered with dozens of musicians and podcast producers, ranging from George Ezra to the White House. So far, David Guetta, Foo Fighters and Chance The Rapper have been testing out the new feature, and it’s going down well.

Let’s just hope Twitter doesn’t come down with an incurable case of unnecessaryfeature-itis before we get to enjoy Audio Card's full benefits.


Emile is a postgrad from the University of Saint Mark and Saint John. He’s hoping to break into journalism or publishing, and won’t stop blogging until he’s managed it! Follow him @EmileAtSMF.

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Twitter Experiments With New Features Reviewed by Emile Cole on Tuesday, October 21, 2014 Rating: 5
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