Twitter users have seemingly had plenty to complain about recently. Firstly a change from 140 characters to the pretty much limitless 10,000. And now the proposed introduction of an algorithm change to how the main tweet timeline is displayed, tailoring content for you instead of the current time-based timeline. The latter seems to have caused the most consternation amongst users with #RIPTwitter trending throughout the last week and users venting their anger at the change.
So, are Twitter’s users over reacting to this proposed change, or should Twitter bow to the pressure and leave the current timeline in its current format?
Users of social networks are always quick to voice their outrage over new features. The introduction of the news feed to Facebook in 2006 was greeted with threats of a boycott of the network that never materialised, and now the news feed is part of the core of the Facebook experience.
The assumption from the disgruntled users is that the change is aimed at them and how they consume their content, a change that they don’t want. However, any changes aren’t aimed at that current active user base, it’s to generate new user accounts and to get existing, occasional users to interact with the site more. Ultimately, the more people actively using the site, the more ad revenue Twitter generates and the happier its investors are.
New user levels haven’t been increasing that quickly over the past six months, so introducing a way to get existing users who don’t interact with Twitter to engage more often makes perfect business sense.
Tailoring your timeline to your specific interests is time consuming; you can easily spend hours, days or even weeks selecting who to follow, generating your perfect timeline. So, can producing a packaged timeline based on the answers to a few 'interest' questions produce an engaging timeline for the occasional user quickly and easily?
Personally, having gone to the effort of creating a timeline based on my industry peers and 'celebrities' of interest, I don’t want this feed tampered with too much. It’s already bad enough to have tweets out of chronological order with the “While you were away” tweets, so I hope that any rolled-out changes are minimal. However, if there’s a middle ground of creating a timeline for new users and allowing existing users to opt-in to any wholesale change, I can’t see any real issue.
What eventually transpires remains to be seen, but Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey (@jack) did tweet a set of carefully worded tweets to try to allay users fears, but will Twitter actually listen?