In an effort to bring relatable content to its users, Twitter has began publishing additional content on its user’s timelines. The platform began this development early last week and it doesn’t intend to stop anytime soon.
If you are a current Twitter user, chances are you’ve seen a tweet Twitter has inserted from someone you don’t follow, aimed to consist of something you care about. More so, it usually includes a short header trying to explain why the tweet is appearing on your timeline. For example, you might see a tweet from a stranger, along with a label saying that a friend you follow on Twitter favorited the tweet, or follows the account that generated the tweet.
It would be reasonable to assume that you’re seeing that tweet because of your friends’ actions. However, that isn’t the case necessarily.
While it is clear why the social platform wants to present users with relatable and important information based on their actions and preferences, it is unclear just how Twitter is going about doing this.
According to Re/Code, sources familiar with the update say Twitter’s algorithm “searches for popular tweets in your ‘social graph,’ marked by actions like favorites and retweets.” However, the algorithm isn’t showing you those tweets because of a friend’s specific actions, it’s showing it to you because lots of your friends have either favorited or shown interest in that tweet.
This means users can favorite a tweet and not have it appear on someone else’s feed (due to the necessary engagement from many other people, too), however it is speculated that users might still begin to treat the favorite with more caution.
Despite 50 other people favoriting a tweet that Twitter surfaces, if your name is the one included on the label it certainly looks and feels like an endorsement, regardless of your intention.
In response, people familiar with the algorithm are saying that Twitter is considering an alternate method to indicate why you’re seeing certain tweets.