A note on Twitter’s latest feature

Twitter made a change to their algorithmic timeline recently, and have started showing tweets from strangers, that are liked by the people you follow. I don’t know why, or what benefit they offer, or even what criteria is used; I presumed at first that they’re showing tweets that have a good number of replies, retweets, or likes, in an effort to surface quality conversations.

Good morning everyone. Grape soda is an abomination

But there are many which are replies to specific tweets, telling me nothing about the conversation or context they were used in. (Note that I’m not criticising the tweets themselves, just why Twitter thinks they’re valuable enough to show me.)

Some are so wildly out of context as to appear nonsensical, kind of like lines from a Dadaist poem.

Some are quite revealing of the tweeter’s psyche.

A few seem so personal that, although they’ve been posted on a public channel, the tweeter may not have thought they’d be seen by a wider audience.

But what it seems to massively over-index for is people liking tweets that have thanked them or praised them.

To be fair, they’re not all totally without some amusement value; every now and then you get something that’s funny because of the context in which it appears.

But mostly, they’re of little to no worth. There are occasional — once, maybe twice, a week — interesting or useful tweets that get surfaced, but they’re heavily in the minority. I can see what Twitter are trying to do with this feature, but at the moment it’s just unwelcome noise in my timeline.

Anyway, I don’t like to simply criticise without being constructive, so I’d like to offer a solution to fix it. Here’s a mockup of a simple toggle to let people choose whether or not they want to see these tweets:

You’re welcome, Twitter.

Also published on Medium.