Twitter is officially transforming its Timeline into more Facebook-esquie.
Not long ago, Twitter rolled out a testing to some users that began showing actions, such as favourited tweets on the main Twitter timeline. Earlier this month, it experimented with showing tweets from accounts users didn’t follow. Most Twitter fans think this feature was merely an experiment, since it hadn’t been universally deployed to all users.
Now, Twitter has updated some key language on its help page that indicates a permanent change. On that page, the company has updated the definition of “What’s a Twitter timeline?”. Below is the comparison between the old term and the new one:
The key phrasing in the old text is “content that may be relevant to you.” The new paragraph contains more explicit explanation of something Twitter previously displayed. The company is now more straightforward defining what that “relevant content” is.
Even if the change is mostly in explanation, it’s yet another sign that Twitter, as a company, is doing more of what it can to increase user engagement. Moving to a model where the timeline becomes more encumbered with “relevant content” makes the service a lot more like Facebook and its News Feed. However, it still isn’t clear how or when Twitter will implement these kinds of changes. It makes sense that the company is still experimenting with how well these “relevant content” will work.
While showcasing relevant, breaking news and timely tweets to users in the appropriate context could be a smart move, that doesn’t immediately mitigate concerns users may have over what they do and don’t want to see in their timelines.
As Facebook has proven time and again, backlash against a major change doesn’t typically result in a loss of users. Most users eventually just get used to it.
Nevertheless, Twitter still needs to think carefully about the next move. Unlike Facebook, having a Twitter account is not such a big deal. In general, leaving Facebook is creating bigger social statement than leaving Twitter. Thus, it’s better if Twitter does not alter its services too much or too quickly. Otherwise, its users might decide to spend their time elsewhere.