Twitter has upset many of its users recently by confirming that Tweets from people that you do not follow will begin to appear on your personal timeline causing somewhat of a backlash online due to the changes to the ‘favourite’ button on the popular social network.
The move has baffled many users who are already turning away from sites like Facebook due to the lack of control on their own timeline that has quickly become irrelevant after being bombarded with one too many adverts, but many felt that Twitter offered an alternative edgier experience.
Twitter was built on a reputation of being a network where you can customise your timeline so the only material you see is relevant, but it seems that the powers that be are eager to introduce change and ensure the platform continues to grow and evolve.
The confirmation was reported by the Guardian newspaper and Twitter posted What’s a Twitter Timeline? Reading between the lines, the most revealing section advised:
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.
Users resistance to change has long plagued social media sites such as Facebook and the all familiar backlash has turned into a joke over the years due to the the same people who complained about the previous improvements can often be seen 12 months later, campaigning to keep the same same changes they originally hated, but this Twitter story is different as it appears they do not understand how people use their own service.
The Twitter favourite button for example has many different uses, many users will use the button as a sort of bookmark tool so they can save something of interest to refer back to whilst also use it to acknowledge a comment at the end of a conversation.
Many will also use the feature to show support, approval or appreciation for a tweet giving this one button countless uses. However what all these uses have in common is that they are of an almost private nature and between two people.
This new announcement means that anything you favourite could end up on somebodies timeline that does not follow or have any interest in you or your thoughts and this is where the anger and frustrations begin as their personal timelines receive a form of unwanted spam.
Twitter has 241 million active users globally, whilst its rival Facebook has more than one billion users active each month and they seem intent on mirroring their successful rival by re-branding the favourite button to something that resembles the Facebook Like feature.
Although I understand that Twitter as a business needs to evolve, grow and improve to survive in the constantly changing digital world, to quickly turn the favourite button into something that is remarkably similar to the re-tweet option, seems somewhat misguided and illustrates a lack of understanding of their own user base.
For me personally, the relevance of my timeline and what it contains is paramount along with human interaction rather than algorithms deciding what I read. However on the flip-side I am increasingly conscious of the fact that we are all guilty of only tuning into things that we like or anything that falls in line with our own point of view that ultimately blinkers us from anything that we wouldn’t normally like.
Life should be about opening yourself up to new situations and people from different backgrounds that challenge our own thought process so maybe it’s not such a bad thing, but I could be completely over thinking this, so I have to ask what you think of these changes?
Is this just a storm in a teacup or will users settle down in a few weeks and embrace the new features? What are your thoughts on the future of Twitter? Please let me know your thoughts on this latest announcement.