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Frustrated with the Facebook Algorithm? You're Going to Hate What Twitter Has Up Its Sleeve.

August 21, 2014, 9:00 AM

Have you ever come across a seemingly recent Facebook status update situated near the top of your timeline only to realize upon inspection that it had been posted two days prior? It irritates me to no end that the feed has become such a mess.

Many of us remember a simpler time when you could log in and stalk your friends in real time. Now you have to scroll through jumbles of posts spanning days while ignoring irrelevant content from people you don't even know. Facebook's algorithm has, just like the website's many other updates through the years, made the platform a lot less user friendly. But Zuckerberg and Co. know most users aren't going to get fed up and leave. They've made the site ubiquitous -- they can do whatever they want.

That's why Twitter is so great. It's almost perfectly democratic. All tweets are created equal. Or at least that's the way it was until recently. As Christina Warren of Mashable notes, some recent experiments and policy changes have opened the door for Twitter to start infusing your feed with "relevant content." From Twitter's help page:

Additionally, when we identify a Tweet, an account to follow, or other content that's popular or relevant, we may add it to your timeline. This means you will sometimes see Tweets from accounts you don't follow. We select each Tweet using a variety of signals, including how popular it is and how people in your network are interacting with it. Our goal is to make your home timeline even more relevant and interesting.

As Warren notes, the timing and magnitude of these shifts are still up in the air, but it's fairly clear this is all an effort to become more like Facebook. This is troublesome for several reasons. If Twitter were to switch away from a real-time stream (as Facebook did), the world's greatest medium for instant news and information would be compromised. Imagine if the events in Ferguson this month were subject to a Twitter algorithm.

Warren suggests that Twitter be careful with how quickly it decides to change things up. There's one thing that Facebook has that Twitter doesn't:

"Twitter needs to think carefully about how it rolls out these changes. Unlike Facebook, having a Twitter account isn't a de facto social network requirement. In general, leaving Facebook — or choosing to use it less — is making much more of a social statement than leaving Twitter."

Take a look at Warren's article (linked again below) to learn more about the slippery slope Twitter is racing toward.

Read more at Mashable

Photo credit: dolphfyn / Shutterstock.com


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