5 Terrible New Features That Prove Twitter Is Getting Desperate

As Twitter’s users threatened a mass revolt, CEO Jack Dorsey said the company will not be making any changes to the site’s timeline feature. At least not this week, anyway.

Users took to the #RIPTwitter hashtag in mass numbers after BuzzFeed claimed Twitter was set to exercise top-down control over what they saw on the platform. According to the article, Twitter planned to use computer algorithms to calculate what content users should receive, a departure from the current model, where users’ follower choices determine what appears on their news feeds.

With #RIPTwitter trending worldwide for almost a day, Dorsey intervened, tweeting that the company had no plans to introduce an algorithmic timeline “next week,” as reported by BuzzFeed. Tellingly, he did not deny that Twitter would introduce such a feature at a later date.

Regardless of Dorsey’s attempts to pacify his users, the threat of such a feature being introduced has not been quashed. We already know that Twitter has conducted experiments with an algorithmic feed. The only question is when it will be introduced and whether the feature will be optional.

Facebook, it should be remembered, regularly introduced changes that were optional to begin with but later made mandatory across the platform. For social media companies looking to avoid a consumer exodus, sneaking changes up on users has proved an effective strategy.

An “Abuse Filter” You Can’t Turn Off

Last May, while Dick Costolo was still CEO, Twitter took its first step toward a top-down annexation of its users’ feeds. Instead of trusting their users to use the block button, the company decided to pre-block tweets that contained mean words. Users woke up to find their timelines censored without their consent and were obliged to arduously search through their own mentions to find out what Twitter thought to be too damaging for their fragile eyes to see.

The feature, implemented after months of haranguing from SJWs complaining about “online abuse,” proved disastrous. Unsurprisingly, parody tweets as well as genuine hostility were caught up in Twitter’s filter. The episode served as yet another lesson in the consequences of letting politics dictate policy.

Moments

Moments could be seen as the forerunner of Twitter’s planned algorithmic feed, giving users a selection of the “best” stories from around the web. It replaced the genuinely useful “discover” feature, which allowed you to find particularly popular tweets from users you weren’t necessarily following. It was particularly helpful to journalists searching for emerging news stories.

How well does Moments function? Does it really point us to stories we’re interested in? Well, it’s currently suggesting I read, “10 Superb Owls For Super Bowl Sunday,” “Beyonce’s new song Formation makes us,” and, strangely, this:

2016-02-07_19h41_53

It seems Twitter’s algorithms have yet to discover that I’m an atheist.

“While you were away”

Instead of being greeted with the usual real-time newsfeed, the first things a user will see when they log on to Twitter these days are tweets from hours ago. One of the most annoying new features on the platform, it means that users have to swipe away (on smartphones and tablets) or refresh the page (on desktops) before their feeds return to normal. It’s another sign that Jack Dorsey is not as committed to the old, real-time Twitter as he says he is.

10,000-Character Tweets

News broke last month that Twitter is developing a feature that will allow users to post 10,000-character tweets. It’s the most painfully obvious attempt to emulate Facebook yet from a company that continues to look enviously at the soaring fortunes of Mark Zuckerberg’s empire.

If the feature ever sees the light of day, it will destroy the very essence of Twitter. What is Twitter without the 140-character limit? Certainly not a microblogging platform, which is how the site currently describes itself. And, more to the point, why do users require two Facebooks? They can just use the original.

 “Like” buttons

OK, I was wrong. 10,000 character tweets were not the most painfully obvious attempt to emulate Facebook.

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