Twitter sparks backlash with intrusive 'timeline' policy

LISA VISENTIN
Last updated 08:54, August 21 2014
TWITTER TROUBLES: Twitter's latest policy to insert Tweets into 'timelines' from accounts not followed by users has sparked a backlash.
Reuters

TWITTER TROUBLES: Twitter's latest policy to insert Tweets into 'timelines' from accounts not followed by users has sparked a backlash.

Twitter has dramatically altered its definition of a "timeline" to allow for the inclusion of tweets from accounts users don't follow, based on what the site determines individual users will find "relevant and interesting".

The controversial changes, published on the site's help page "What's a Twitter timeline?", are set out in a newly-inserted paragraph which reads:

"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."

The move has triggered a deluge of outrage on the social media site, with users accusing the company of self-appointing as arbiters of their personal interests and intruding into their online space.

I've started to get those random tweets from people I don't follow. @JimConnolly tweeted: "Not happy, @Twitter. Please ditch this."

@toolegs tweeted: "Tweets from people I don't follow, you say twitter? I'll block and report every one for spam. That'll keep you busy."

Prior to the changes, tweets from accounts not followed by users only appeared in timelines if they were retweets or "promoted" advertising. 

In the company's quarterly finanical results announced in July, Twitter reported having 271 million monthly active users, an increase in 24 per cent from the same time last year.

Timeline views had climed to 173 billion, up 15 per cent from the previous year. 

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