If you were getting a little confused by posts appearing in your Twitter timeline from folks you don’t follow, don’t worry – you haven’t been hacked! It turns out that Twitter has decided that they know better than you do on what, and whom, you should be seeing in your timeline and have made a few changes to their policy to accommodate.
The new change, which started as an experiment and is now a full-fledged feature of Twitter, has you seeing tweets from people you don’t follow and that aren’t retweets in your timeline. Based on an update to it’s help center page, Twitter believes that this new feature will make your timeline “more relevant and interesting”. Below is the excerpt from the Twitter Help Center that outlines the new change.
So…what’s the big deal?
We’ve seen changes like this occur before on social media platforms. Remember when Facebook started dropping promoted posts and advertising onto our timelines? Just like those changes, these changes aren’t going to have any great impact on the fate of the free world, but they will have an impact.
For the casual user, these changes serve as nothing more than a very harsh reminder that user experience is probably not at the top of Twitter’s list of concerns. For business users, however, the impact is a bit more harsh. For those who have spent countless hour and dollars building a dedicated community and following, it will now be harder to rise above the noise. Looking at what happened at Facebook, as a close comparison. The days of being able to engage with customers, over a long period of time, may be dwindling due to the fact that your organic reach dissipates dramatically. For Twitter, though, it’s all about business. And just as Facebook did, they too will most likely turn this new feature into a paid opportunity for those looking to gain more visibility.
For those of us who view our social media timelines and profiles as our own little bits of internet real estate – deciding who to interact with, what we want to see and when / how we want to see it – it’s time to face reality. It’s not truly our space (after all – we don’t pay for it!), it’s theirs. They have the keys and at anytime they will open your front door, walk inside and redecorate to their hearts’ content.