When will Twitter no longer be Twitter?
This week, the company tested a change to its core product that could alter the service in a small but important way. According to Mashable, Twitter is altering the timeline of a small number of users, so that they see tweets from accounts they don’t follow.
Right now, users only see tweets for three reasons: They’re from an account that user follows; they were retweeted by an account that user follows; or they’re an ad. Now, a user might see tweets from an account that someone whom they follow follows, or a tweet that someone they follow favorited.
I can independently confirm this news because I am one of the users they’re testing on. Earlier this week, I was flicking through my Twitter timeline and found something odd: a tweet from a user I’d never seen before. A small line of text above the tweet informed me that it was there because a friend of mine favorited it.
This new feature seems a big deal, because it alters the central conceit of Twitter. Right now, users only only see tweets from users you follow. This is seemingly the feature that made Twitter Twitter. As Mashable found, users already appear annoyed to be seeing tweets of ambiguous origin.
WTF @twitter, why am I seeing tweets from accounts that I don't follow but are followed by someone whom I follow?— aleefbaypay (@aleefbaypay) August 3, 2014
But users already see tweets from users they don’t follow. These tweets are ads. Twitter already accepts money to show users tweets from brands and personalities that they don’t follow, and while this method of display-ads-for-Twitter may frustrate users, but it’s the path the company has chosen.