We were pretty happy last week that Twitter was finally going to take its harassment problem seriously, even if we weren’t thrilled with how long it’s gone on or the circumstances that brought about the change of heart. Unfortunately, it looks like they’re testing out some other changes that will pretty much suck the life out of everything we love about Twitter. Yay?
Some users have noticed that their feed has become a testing ground for Twitter’s expansion of what activity users see from the people they follow. The new notifications range from the trivial and irritating—like seeing when someone you follow follows someone else—to basically completely ruining the point of Twitter: Tweets will pop up from users you don’t even follow.
Of course, you already likely see tweets from users you don’t follow via retweets, but retweets are a conscious form of showing your followers what you think is interesting. If someone you know retweets things you don’t want to see fairly often, you can stop seeing their retweets, or you probably just won’t follow them.
The new system, however, seems to pick tweets at random from accounts you follow and shows them to your followers. Like this:
— aleefbaypay (@aleefbaypay) August 3, 2014
So, you may start seeing things you don’t want to just because someone you follow happens to follow another account, regardless of whether they thought it’d be interesting to you. If this reminds you of Facebook’s constant quest to remove the pesky task of picking what it is you’d like to see, you’re not alone.
For a lot of Twitter users, myself included, the important distinction between the two services that makes Twitter the better choice is the control you have over what you see. Now what will I do, Twitter? What are you even for?
Beyond that, they’ve also made other users’ favorites show up in feeds like retweets:
Which makes the difference between those two features a little harder to discern. Favorites are generally a way to acknowledge something you don’t necessarily think your followers will want to see, but this change removes that functionality. Who people follow and what they favorite was one of the first columns I got rid of when I originally set up TweetDeck, so I’m not too excited to see it being added into the regular feed.
The tests are currently only on some users’ accounts, and hopefully they’ll be summarily rejected by users and Twitter will wise up. Has your timeline been affected? What do you think of the changes? Let us know in the comments below, and maybe let Twitter know, too.
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