Twitter Spices Timelines With Unasked-For Tweets

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SAN FRANCISCO, OCT 18 – Twitter said yesterday it would start reconfiguring users’ timelines with “relevant” messages from people they haven’t bothered to follow at the service. Based on a positive response from its tests, the popular one-to-many messaging service is inching toward the Facebook model of using software to “curate” what users see based on their interests or activities, Twitter said in a blog post.

“In many cases, the best Tweets come from people you already know, or know of,” the San Francisco-based company said. “But, there are times when you might miss out on Tweets we think you’d enjoy.” Twitter said the plan, which has drawn resistance from some users, remained a “timeline experiment” and might not make it to 100% of users.

It said, however, that for now, users would not be able to opt out of the feature. The company said testing showed that many people enjoy seeing tweets from accounts they don’t follow, provided the messages are deemed worthwhile based on “signals” such as popularity, level of interaction, and how much interest is shown by account’s one does follow.

A support page at Twitter yesterday explained that when it identifies a tweet, an account to follow, or other content that is popular or relevant, may be added to timelines. “This means you will sometimes see Tweets from accounts you don’t follow,” the Twitter support page explained. “We believe that each successful experiment, big or small, can make your Twitter experience simpler and more relevant to you.”

The notion of curating Twitter timelines that have long been loved for the real-time blast of information provided is seen as anathema by some fans of the service. A stream of messages fired off at Twitter urged the company to back away from what was lambasted as a terrible idea. Facebook continually refines its algorithm for determining which posts should be given priority in timelines presented at the leading social network.

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