Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Algorithmic Timeline

I've never quite seen a company spiral out of control like Twitter is right now. Things happen, but it usually comes from consumer awareness, shifts in taste over time, better competition and utility, things like that.

The first bruise was this idea for longer tweets, which I'm not against. 140 characters isn't what makes Twitter, but it has been around for so long, everyone's become used to it. I like that users have to streamline their messages. It's endearing.

No, what defines Twitter is the follower system and the unfiltered access to information. These are not friends where you have to follow back, but you follow back if you're interested in seeing their messages in your timeline. Facebook uses algorithms to figure out what people want to see, and overnight small businesses and users were wiped away. On Twitter, if a hundred people follow you, all 100 of them will receive your tweet, whether or not they care to read it is up in the air.

I remember when Twitter first broke out, during the earthquakes in Haiti in 2010. That was the point where there was no real news presence to share what was happening, so instead everyone turned to Twitter where users were sharing photos of the destruction. Users continued to build from there; all sorts of groups sharing what was happening around the world, whether it mattered on a macro scale or a micro event.

As a user, I don't want algorithms for any of my social media. Don't tell me what I can or cannot do. Was the character limit or algorithmic timelines truly necessary, especially with a broken block system and ineffectual reporting system?

I think that's the sticking point for most people. If we want to follow someone and see all their tweets, don't tell us we can't.