Twitter Inc. announced Thursday it would begin to include tweets in users’ timelines from people they do not follow, a shift in approach for the short-messaging service. In addition to paid promotional tweets, Twitter will now put tweets in users’ timelines that it thinks “you’ll find interesting or entertaining.”
“Choosing who to follow is a great first step … but there are times when you might miss out on Tweets we think you’d enjoy,” the company said in a blog post. “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."
Twitter already includes tweets in users' timelines from people they don't follow when someone they do follow "retweets" a post from another account. So far, the decision seems to be very unpopular with the press. It also was unpopular with the site’s users. When the official @Twitter account tweeted the announcement, it was immediately followed by a chorus of boos from users.
So Twitter wants to intervene in our timelines yet refuses to intervene when users are harassed and threatened https://t.co/XN7LH5iAvX
â€” Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior) October 17, 2014
Dear @Twitter. I follow who I want to follow. I don't want you injecting tweets into my timeline that I don't ask for. Thank you.
â€” Bonnie Bernstein (@BonnieBernstein) October 17, 2014
â€” Chris Oestereich (@costrike) October 17, 2014
A member of the Twitter design team tweeted following the backlash, seemingly to defend the new policy. “One reason I joined Twitter was being able to learn what kind of design works well [with a] huge userbase: research, experiments, user testing,” Twitter designer Paul Stamatiou tweeted following the backlash. “This still holds true 22 months later. Love learning from user testing and watching @research in action.”