Your Twitter timeline has evolved, and those tweets from random users (that you don’t follow) are probably there to stay.
In a post titled “The spirit of experimentation and the evolution of your home timeline”, Twitter’s Trevor O’Brien says that most users enjoyed seeing tweets from accounts they didn’t follow, and that it’s one of those experiments that’s going to be sticking around as a permanent feature.
“We constantly try new experiments around here, which serve to inform the evolution of the product…” says O’Brien. “For example, we recently ran experiments that showed different types of content in your timeline: recommended Tweets, accounts and topics. Testing indicated that most people enjoy seeing Tweets from accounts they may not follow, based on signals such as activity from accounts you do follow, the popularity of the Tweets, and how people in your network interact with them. These experiments now inform the timeline you see today.”
For a long time, Twitter has displayed tweets from people you don’t follow in your timeline – in the form of retweets and promoted tweets (ads). More recently, the company began showing curated content in users’ timelines – basically popular stuff that Twitter thinks you’d like from users you don’t follow.
Here’s how Twitter describes its process:
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.
When it comes to what you want to see when you open your Twitter app, Twitter clearly believes it knows what’s best.
Another one of these experiments that ruffled some feathers recently was the showing of favorited tweets in timelines – as in showing people who follow you the tweets you’ve favorited in their timelines, basically like retweets.
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo clarified things a bit when he suggested that Twitter would only show stuff like that when it doesn’t have anything better to show – meaning you’ve already consumed all the content available to you and there’s nothing left in your stream.
But for now, you’re going to keep seeing tweets in your timeline that you didn’t ask for. It’s like ads, but Twitter’s not trying to sell you any product except Twitter itself. Things may get a little cluttered, but it probably won’t be as bad as you think it’ll be.
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