Twitter Now Working To Make Timeline More Like Facebook

A few days ago, Twitter rolled out experimental tweaks on the main Twitter timeline, showing actions like favorited tweets to some users. It also began showing tweets from accounts that you don't follow. Twitter has now made these changes official, which marks a new journey for Twitter timelines as they start resembling Facebooks'. Timelines used to be simple before - just tweets related to people you have followed. But there's a new timeline algorithm at play now.

What has changed?

Twitter updated its definition of a 'Twitter timeline' to include the following change;
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.
One of the key-phrases is "Tweets from accounts you don't follow". Previously, you could see tweets directly from people you follow, and from people who mentioned the people you follow. Extended tweets, if you will. But now, you will see promoted tweets, or content that 'might be relevant to you'.

This last phrase is also significant. Obviously there's a more complex algorithm at play now, as it will understand your preferences, and show tweets from unknown users that Twitter thinks might be relevant to you.

It still isn't clear how or when exactly will Twitter implement these kinds of changes, and it makes sense that the company is still experimenting with how it will show additional tweets to users and determine what works.

Does it matter?

Even though the change might be subtle for now, at least to some users, it is a sign that Twitter is working harder towards improving its user experience and resembling Facebook. It is a fundamental change for Twitter, and in sharp contrast to what it originally set out to be.

How? Well, one of the reasons for Twitter's popularity was that it was simple, and you could rely on seeing only what you wanted to see. Until now, that is. But Twitter is now moving towards a model where the timeline becomes more encumbered with "relevant content" makes the service a lot more like Facebook and its News Feed.

Showcasing relevant breaking news and timely tweets can turn out to be useful for twitter users. But judging the nature of Twitter users, the might not be very receptive owing to the aforementioned reasons.

However, we know from the experiments Facebook has conducted over the years that a major change doesn't typically result in a loss of users - they eventually get used to it. Still, Twitter needs to think carefully about how it rolls out these changes, because in general, leaving Twitter doesn't make as big a statement as leaving Facebook.

Hopefully, in its rush to add users and ramp up engagement, Twitter won't change things too quickly and end up messing with users' news feeds that they so value.

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