Many Twitter users have noticed that Twitter is now inserting tweets into their timelines that seemingly don’t belong. This is not an accident. Twitter has updated its help document, “What’s a Twitter timeline?”
The latest change is that the “favorite” — a tool most users rely on either to bookmark links they want to return to or to send a little head-nod of acknowledgment out to the tweet’s creator — is being put to use in a new way. Twitter is experimenting with showing you tweets from users you do not follow if those tweets are favorited by lots of other users (presumably, a lot of other users who you follow).
So far, these changes are only evident when using Twitter’s first-party clients, but it’s a bad sign even if you use a third-party client like Tweetbot or Twitterrific. However, tweets that you favorite using a third-party client might start showing up in the timelines of your followers who do use Twitter’s own interfaces.
Update (2014-08-25): Jesper:
The reason I don’t like social media is that it takes two things that are polar opposites and duct tapes them together. Your own utility – to save links, to write text, to move files or materials, to keep notes, to communicate with yourself in the future, to communicate with some other specific people – and the social media outlet’s desire to fulfil its own objectives first.
When Twitter thinks it’ll improve everyone’s lives by inserting appropriate favorites, I don’t think they’re making that decision primarily for the filthy lucre. They’re doing it, in their minds, to make Twitter a better place to be in. The problem is that no one at Twitter seems to see that (or at least win any arguments about) nearly everyone else in this equation thinks it’s a worse result.
Update (2014-09-02): Brent Simmons:
What I do care about is that my blog isn’t part of a system where its usefulness is just a hook to get me to use it. It works the way I want to, and the company running the servers (DreamHost) doesn’t care one fig what I do.
The things that will last on the internet are not owned. Plain old websites, blogs, RSS, irc, email.
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