Count me among the most rabid of Twitter’s fans. But today I’m worried for the future of the service that I hold dear. I’m worried because Twitter is talking about moving to an algorithmic feed. I’m worried because an algorithmic feed is the antithesis of the very thing that makes Twitter great.
Six years ago, I met a woman on Twitter because of its search function. I later went on to marry her. To say that Twitter holds a special place in my heart is a pretty big understatement. Improving that search function is a wonderful idea. I understand the need and desire for surfacing important content as it relates to a search.
But the beauty of Twitter as it exists today is that it allows each of us to curate exactly what we want to see. By taking that choice away from us and injecting what it deems relevant, the core of Twitter’s value to me (and many others, from what I am reading) would be shaken.
Unfortunately, even though I’m a power user of Twitter, I’m not the audience that it wants. This has been made clear by the company’s moves in the past. It removed @replies from my stream to clear up noise, but in doing so it removed the best method for discovering new people to follow. It forced content into my timeline, from people that I don’t follow, all in the name of providing a better return to advertisers. While I fully understand the company’s need to make money, I don’t understand turning your back on your oldest base of users.
My nightmare scenario is one described by my friend and coworker Kipp:
“Hey - we can then filter out everyone but celebrities and people with high follower counts!! AND charge companies to show up in your stream.”
I’m worried because the magic that enabled the world to see #Ferguson, #ArabSpring, #Jan25 and #Wikileaks is being threatened by invasion from celebrities, brands and TV shows that I couldn’t possibly care about less.
I’m worried because the service that connects the world in times of joy, pain, crisis and celebration has investors who don’t care about any of those things.
I’m worried because my Twitter isn’t mine anymore.