Recently, tweets which people I follow 'liked' (but not retweeted) started showing up in my Twitter timeline. Twitter had been showing the "you might like" box with such tweets for quite a long time, but they were separate from normal tweets, and you could dismiss the box (it would come back again after a while, though). Now those 'liked' tweets are showing up intermingled with the normal tweets, and there is no option to disable this.
Now, Twitter has been working hard on its timeline algorithms lately, and, at least initially, the liked tweets it added to my timeline were indeed stuff I liked, and they constituted just a small part of total tweets. That's not the case anymore: now liked tweets seem to be about one third of all tweets I see, and a smaller proportion of them interest me. Moreover, I simply don't want to see that many tweets. If I'm seeing all tweets I used to see plus liked tweets, and liked tweets comprise about a third of all tweets I see now, then I'm seeing about 50% more tweets, and I simply don't have the patience for so much tweetering; I already limit the number of people I follow so as to keep my timeline manageable.
But even if Twitter's algorithms were perfect and showed me only things I wanted to see in an ideal quantity, showing liked-but-not-retweeted tweets would already be bad, for a number of reasons:
'Likes' (formerly 'favorites') were a way to give fake Internet points to someone without being forced to share it with your followers. Sometimes I do this just because I don't think the content will be generally of interest to my followers (e.g., linguistics-based humor). But sometimes I may do it for more serious reasons, for instance, because I think the content might be offensive or be taken badly by some of my followers (e.g., religion-based humor). And sometimes I want to signal an approval to someone's opinion which might generate controversy or discussion if shared, but I don't really want to have a discussion about it with anyone at the time (e.g., some political views).
Likes have always been public in the sense that you could open up someone's profile and see a feed of everything they liked, but you had to actively stalk someone to see that. Now people who follow you don't have to do anything in particular to see the things you liked, so you have to work on the assumption that anything you like might show up in someone else's feed, which is annoying.
You don't see every tweet your followees liked; you only see some of them, and the selection is done by Twitter's algorithms, which of course are closed. At best (if the algorithms try to maximize showing things you like), this has the potential of creating a bubble effect of feeding you more and more with the things you already like and agree with, and filtering out differing views and opinions. At worst, the algorithms might try to maximize something else (e.g., things advertisers would like you to see rather than things you would like to see).
The bubbling effect is currently probably not as bad in Twitter as it is in Facebook because you still see all tweets your followees (re)tweet; you just see more tweets on the top of those. Note that Twitter already has an option of using a more Facebook-like timeline which reorders the tweets according to what its algorithms think you might be interested in more. It is currently opt-out, but it might stop being so in the future, the same way you used to be able to dismiss the "you might like" tweets but can't anymore.
As Twitter keeps trying brave new ways of monetizing its users, it's probably going to become more problematic from a privacy perspective. Meanwhile, we now have a quite viable decentralized, free, and usable social network (and I'm already there). The sad thing is that most of the people I follow will probably not migrate from Twitter, but as Twitter keeps getting worse in matters of privacy, transparency and usability, I'm becoming more inclined to leave it, as I have done before.
Update (2017-06-13): Today my Twitter timeline showed up out of order, at least temporarily, even though the "Show me the best Tweets first" options still appears disabled. That one came quick.
Copyright © 2010-2018 Vítor De Araújo
O conteúdo deste blog, a menos que de outra forma especificado, pode ser utilizado segundo os termos da licença Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International.
Powered by Blognir.