Are You Seeing Tweets From People You Don’t Follow?

Facebook recently came under fire for it’s now infamous ‘Emotional Study’ which involved the manipulation of a number of user’s timelines. The stalwarts of Twitter, one of Facebook’s biggest competitors in the world of social media, have always cited Twitter’s real-time reverse-chronological newsfeed, especially relevant for the vast number of news and magazine accounts on Twitter, in arguments over which social media is best.

But this is all changing, as Twitter does away with their old newsfeed and replaces it with something that would have more of a Facebook ‘Top Stories’ feel, with a few “suggested” Tweets from people who you don’t even follow. Twitter has said that this decision comes after a successful test where users actually liked the changes; however, as it was bound to, the change has angered a lot of Twitter’s core longtime users.

What Twitter Says About It

A Twitter product team member, Trevor O’Brien, took to the networking site’s official blog to make a few statements about this update. He says there that the change came after an experiment with users and that it is designed to make your newsfeed more interesting and keep you better updated with the world. He explained that sometimes there are Tweets that a user will be interested in, but they don’t see them because they don’t follow that person.

Twitter will choose which Tweets to show you by looking at a set of signals. These signals include how popular the poster of the Tweet is, how it’s being circulated through the site in Retweets, and how other people in your network are interacting with the Tweet or user.

Why The Change?

As I said, hardcore Twitter users are extremely unhappy about the move away from the reverse-chronological newsfeed, but this change isn’t designed to make them happy. Twitter probably hopes that they’ll be able to capture a new market of more casual users.

The general perception of the social networking site is that it’s too difficult to get started, the shorthand messages born out of necessity and a 140 character limit are too difficult to read, and that they can find more interesting content on Facebook.

This change was made to break that perception and gain them more followers. But one can’t help but feel that this change is coming too long after Facebook launched their “Suggested Posts” and that the change will alienate their core users who prefer Twitter because there are no suggested posts.