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.