Twitter is continuing to tweak its search algorithm to show its users what it thinks they should see – rather than what an organic search should come up with.
It might sound like a sad, and potentially damaging exercise in control of a very influential company over its users – and that’s pretty much what it is.
At least that seems to be the gist of the latest decision of the social media giant, reported by the Apple-centric 9to5Mac website.
It concerns Twitter’s decision to do away with its “quality” filter, which users have communicated back to Twitter as being a thing that is both useless, and unwanted.
But when it was first introduced in 2016, the website said, the purpose was apparently to give Twitter users “better” control over what they see on their timelines – including hiding notifications from spammers and harassers. Who wouldn’t want that, right?
But at the time, the report noted, Twitter didn’t bother explaining how its algorithm decided something was of low quality – in other words, how and why exactly content got downgraded.
But wait – did you think Twitter would now just do away with this murky and ill-defined rule to start giving its users organically relevant, as in, unfiltered and unbiased search results?
Think again, because the official Twitter Support account promises merely more of the same – true, by a different name.
We’re removing Quality Filter from search settings because people told us the filter was confusing and they didn't want it. We’ve been improving search over time so Top shows you the best Tweets without the extra setting and Latest shows you more Tweets.
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) July 23, 2019
“We’ve been improving search over time so Top shows you the best tweets without the extra setting and Latest shows you more tweets.”
But that’s “best” – and according to who? And how is this “best” any different from the “quality” lot that Twitter’s users have clearly, even by Twitter’s own admission, dismissed and rejected as useless? In no way, actually – as the report suggests the “quality” setting was no longer needed due to “improved search.”
One of the comments left on Twitter’s original post spelled it out: “No Top tweets. No Best tweets. Just ALL the tweets from ALL the people I follow in chronological order. Why is this so hard for you to understand?,” wondered an exasperated user.”
No Top tweets. No Best tweets. Just ALL the tweets from ALL the people I follow in chronological order. Why is this so hard for you to understand?
— SewUnicorn (@SewUnicorn) July 23, 2019
Of course, the difficulty here for Twitter, a major tech and social media platform and “influencer” on the global scale is not exactly its ability to “understand” – rather, it might be Twitter understanding its role in the world all too well.