Twitter's New Filtered Feed Policy

Twitter is about to ruin itself.

I'm convinced that the people who made and run both Facebook and Twitter don't have a clue as to what Facebook and Twitter are for. And by "for" I mean how the users use them. I know, I know, if you are not paying for the product than you are the product. I get it. But it is also true that for a service to be successful it should meet a need or two, and knowing what those needs are is ultimately linked to success or failure. It seems like on line services like Facebook and Twitter are too big to go away or fail. And that is exactly how we humans tend to view established institutions right up until the day the go away or fail.

Twitter's CFO has said that Twitter will start to filter your twitter feed in a manner like Facebook does. This probably means that your feed will contain a subset of tweets that you normally would see depending on who you follow, or what list of tweeters you are looking at. There may be a technological way around this, but any fix provided by an updated API will not be helpful because Twitter has a reputation for changing the API (the way programmers use to interface with it) in such a way as to stifle development of applications that actually use twitter. Any larger scale or longer term investment in Twitter requires using the simplest interface, with few bells and whistled, or the rug may be pulled from underneath your project.

One of the great uses of Twitter is shared conversations (like this one) or shared not taking at conferences. Other uses include data collection and communication of ongoing processes. People have used twitter to record the catch by fisherfolk in marine conservation projects, for example. If Twitter Facebook-i-fies the Twitter feed, none of that will be possible because those projects and others like them require reliability of the flow of tweets.

Mathew Ingram of Gigaom notes:

An unfiltered stream is a core feature: This might seem like a small thing, similar to Twitter’s move to insert tweets that other people have favorited into a user’s stream if there aren’t any recent tweets to show them. But as the controversy over that feature shows, the Twitter chronological-order model is at the core of what the service offers for many users — and a number of them have specifically said it is the thing they like most about Twitter when compared to Facebook.


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I still haven't yet figured out what Facebook and Twitter are for, which is one of the reasons I don't use these services. The other reason being that I have no desire to be the product rather than the user.

I shall refrain from stating the well known error in reasoning to which both service providers have succumbed because I have no wish to encourage their business tactics.

I stay in touch with all my friends using MySpace. I have this one friend, Tom....

ok. MySpace sux.

What Twitter and Facebook are "for" is collecting every possible piece of information about their users and then monetizing it in any way they can. In other words they are like private-sector unregulated NSAs that make money off every fact they obtain.

This includes selling your data to data brokers, who in turn connect it to your legal name and identifying information (if that hasn't already been done along the way) and repackage it for sale to others.

Those others include your current employer and prospective employer, credit bureaus, mortgage lenders, and others, whose goal is not to sell you stuff you don't need, but to impose their will upon you in various other ways such as by denying you employment, credit, and a place to live.

In other words, we have seen the creation of an unregulated private-sector Stasi, and the predictable result of producing a "watch what you say" culture.

You're not just the product. You're the prey.