Arguably, by far the most interesting thing about Twitter is its real-time nature. What’s happening now?
But in an official Twitter announcement last week, the popular social media platform is manipulating that and more by injecting Tweets from people and companies users don’t follow along with ad content and promoted Tweets. This was posted on the Twitter Help Center:
◦Additionally, when we identify a Tweet, an account to follow, or other content that’s popular or relevant, we may add it to your timeline. This means you will sometimes see Tweets from accounts you don’t follow. We select each Tweet using a variety of signals, including how popular it is and how people in your network are interacting with it. Our goal is to make your home timeline even more relevant and interesting.
Twitter has been so compelling, so addictive particularly for anyone interested in that big but too-often-overlooked journalism W, When. For such chocoholics, Twitter’s like floating on a river of Swiss milk chocolate and slurping in brand new, hot-off-or-even-before-the-press-run news and commentary. So reporters, PR pros, wannabe PR types, activists of all stripes, celebrities, trend setters — those interested in breaking news — in the now — have been hooked, and hooked deeply.
In her recent article Natasha Lomas of TechCrunch characterizes the magnitude of Twitter’s timeline or feed changes:
Twitter Pollutes The Timeline
Of course the reason for this late-summer change is to make Twitter more attractive and accountable to advertisers. Like Facebook it’s about the bottom line: how much ad revenue they will generate and not about what’s newsworthy or interesting to Twitter users. And, the race is well underway with social media giants including Facebook and Twitter to be the first to the mobile platforms’ ad dollars feeding trough.
In his recent article Christopher Heine of AdWeek reported on some of the recent millions involved in mobile ads for Twitter and Facebook.
Big Brands Are Driving Facebook And Twitter’s Mobile Ad Explosion
Lomas of TechCrunch continues with what this newly injected, so-called “popular or relevant” content means for Twitter users:
Most users’ Facebook timelines have long ago become largely filled with “promoted” posts, ads, random posts that get “likes” or “shares” and other things that Facebook — and not its users — deem interesting or relevant. So one effect is that a Facebook user’s timeline will have at the top those ads, promoted posts and other things Facebook designates as interesting for users — although they’re often from between 12 and 24 hours old — in other words a decade old in Web-time.
So is Twitter’s heretofore mostly exceptional, freshly made, gushing dark chocolate, user-selected information river in danger of becoming more a stream of mud with bits of flotsam? Or, at least according to one technology news source are they injecting users’ feeds with even more unsanitary stuff? Is it becoming true once more, and depressingly so these days, as Marshall McLuhan contended: “the medium is the message”?