Have you noticed that something is different about your Twitter feed? A few weeks ago, the company let the world know that it was experimenting with adding random tweets to some user timelines.
Now, the practice of showing you tweets from people you don’t follow is a regular part of using the social network -- here’s why Twitter wants to show you tweets that you may not have seen otherwise.
Expanding Your Horizons
Twitter executives claim that adding various tweets to user feeds helps people discover other users that they may have skipped over or know nothing about. The company further explains that users may like to read tweets from people that are known to them, but they don’t often read tweets from people that are lesser known or not known at all. Since the point of Twitter is to expand social networks, it kind of makes sense that the company would force posts into your Twitter feed.
There’s another reason why Twitter is adding random tweets to feeds too. The company needs to engage more new users and get back older users that may have lost interest. A lot of people sign up for Twitter, aren’t sure who to follow, and stop using the network. This kind of disinterest isn’t good for Twitter, so showing people who they might like to follow provides new users with a fast way to get hooked on using Twitter.
Not So Great for All
Understanding why Twitter would use the new feed tactic to attract new users to the site is easy to do, but there’s a flipside to this coin. Seasoned users that already have a specific list of people that they follow aren’t thrilled about seeing tweets from people that they don’t care about. Those that have spent a long time hand-picking interesting people to add to feeds really aren’t thrilled about seeing tweets from people that might not be so interest. As can be expected, Twitter is facing some backlash from those users right now.
It’s hard not to be reminded of Facebook here too. Facebook puts random posts in user feeds according to that social network’s algorithm. People that use Twitter aren’t often the same people that use Facebook, and Twitter users tend to hate what Facebook does. The fact that Twitter is now showing random tweets to people is really reminiscent of what Facebook does, and this is causing some Twitter users to protest the move.
A Rock and Hard Place
Twitter clearly wants to grow its user-base, but the company can’t afford to lose any current users either. Since Twitter isn’t putting ads into those random blank spaces (yet), most avid Twitter users will probably get used to the suggested tweets.
Twitter has also told press that the company is very carefully selecting tweets to show users, so some people might even find a new person to follow that is actually interesting. Others may just give up on Twitter if feeds become overwhelmed with tweets that are not interesting.