Facebookisation: Twitter is changing

Graphc: Garrett Heath

Up to now, social network Twitter has focused on an unfiltered news stream…but these times appear to be over. Similarly to Facebook, particularly relevant Tweets disturb the chronological order. Even Tweets by people you don’t follow will reportedly turn up in your stream in the future.

The changed Twitter timeline

Unfiltered Tweets by contacts you follow – that used to be the case. In September, Twitter announced extensive changes to their timeline. Users reacted promptly and called for a Twitter strike. But what does the Twitter timeline look like now?

  • Most Tweets come from contacts you’re following. Additionally there are retweets and, since August, these contacts’ favourite tweets.
  • In order to monetise the Twitter idea, users are shown sponsored tweets. These are tailored according to user behaviour in a way similar to Facebook. For example: those who follow all NBA teams could find sponsored tweets for Nike shoes in their news stream.
  • But since September, all tweets which are especially well-liked or relevant are shown. You don’t even have to be following the tweet’s author. Twitter has its own algorithm which determines which tweets are relevant for whom.

According to Twitter, tweets are still shown in chronological order. However, over the past few days there have already been experiments which show users missed or relevant tweets at the top of the time line.

Possibilities and dangers of the new timeline

What does Twitter hope to gain form these drastic changes? Real tweets, which offer interesting content are supposed to be made more accessible to users. In this way, the company can counter the problem of Twitterbots. At the same time, new users who share particularly exciting content are rewarded. However, isn’t Twitter betraying their own identity with this and becoming more and more of a ‘new Facebook’? It will be interesting to see how the timeline changes in the future, as the Buy-Button is coming for everyone in 2015 and could place these changes in a greater context.

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