#RIPTwitter. It instantly started trending on the troubled microblogging website after it announced the looming introduction of a Facebook-style algorithm that meant users wouldn’t miss out on the tweets most important to them (trying to become Facebook)?
The trouble with Twitter is that it’s everything Facebook, the social media giant with over 1.5 billion monthly active users, isn’t. Whereas the average man (or woman, or teen) on the street knows all about Facebook and constantly uses it to keep in touch with friends and family and see what they’re up to – they’re largely clueless about what Twitter is. And most are not on it, which explains stalled user growth (currently just over the 300 million mark), which is alarming investors and causing turmoil in the company.
So Twitter is flailing around, trying to introduce anything it can to try and lure more people in. Most recently, the platform changed from stars to little love hearts for people to click on if they liked a post with some reported success showing a 6% increase in usage, and it’s also considering expanding its 140-character limit so people can make more comprehensive posts.
But beyond all that, there’s also the problem of wastage on the service – there are just far too many posts from the people users follow to ever be seen by them – and so Twitter set about trying, at least, to rectify that.
Its software engineers have been busy coding a new algorithm to display a timeline-style feed of the most relevant posts users have missed, and Twitter initially said the new feature would first need to be turned on; then it said it would become a default setting and that you’d need to dig into your expanding settings to turn the thing off, if that’s what you wanted.
It’s no wonder loyal Twitter users were up in arms!
But come on – we’re only human and we absolutely despise change – and maybe Twitter, which after all really is an invaluable service, is doing us all a favour. We miss tweets all the time, because they’re pushed right down our feeds by the time we’ve logged in again, so what’s the harm in showing them atop our feeds? It’s beneficial, if anything.
Twitter may be trying to ape Facebook and its wild successes, but let’s not forget that Facebook has had a rolling series of tumultuous new feature introductions over the years that have either flopped or been met with derision by users.
Now, when we log on, we’re met with the message from Twitter: “Never miss an important Tweet. Now the best tweets from people you follow will appear at the top of your timeline when you open Twitter” – and then a link to change your setting if you don’t want to use the new feature.
Turn off the feature isn’t even that difficult. Settings, scroll to content, deselect the option and enter your password. Done:
Twitter is a valuable service precisely because of the people who use it, be they politicians, journalists, celebrities, your friends and just about anyone else, including you. We follow these people because we want to know what they’re saying – and having an algorithm saves us the trouble of searching for their name and finding out what they’ve been up to surely is a good thing. It’s far from the end of the microblogging world. In fact, it could be the making of it.