As new Twitter owner Elon Musk tinkers around with the social network’s feature set, more algorithmic recommendations are apparently on the way.
Twitter’s support account tweeted about the change on Wednesday, noting that the platform was “expanding recommendations to all users.” This is of course under the guide of giving users the “best” content (Instagram likes to use this line too), but in reality splicing more recommendations into a social feed primes users to expect more paid content too.
Twitter provided no other details about the change to recommendations, but links to a previous blog post explaining how they algorithmic content works and where it might show up. According to the post, “recommendations can appear in your Home timeline, certain places within the Explore tab, and elsewhere on Twitter.” As it stands, you can switch between the home feed and “latest tweets” by clicking the sparkle button in the upper right corner of the timeline.
It’s not immediately clear if Twitter plans to stream more recommended tweets into the “home” timeline or if this is something more aggressive, but we’ve tweeted into the void to ask the company for more clarity. Some users have already noticed changes, which seem to be affecting home feeds for now.
Twitter offers two different feeds: “latest tweets” which displays tweets from people you follow in chronological order and “home,” a curated collection of popular tweets from your follows. From our experience, the latter occasionally mixed in some recommendations from beyond our following lists but was mostly a non-chronological collection of tweets from people we did follow.
Given Musk’s habit of quickly rolling out major feature changes (and then rolling them back), we wouldn’t be surprised to see Twitter get heavy-handed with recommendations or even switch the default feed in that direction, so we’ll keep our eyes peeled for anything major.
Pre-Musk, the platform planned to make recommendations more prominent but reversed course after a backlash from users. On Instagram, users have expressed a similar weariness at seeing their feeds cluttered with content from people they don’t follow. For TikTok, serving algorithmically-curated content is in the app’s DNA, but many other social platforms have to tread more carefully.
Because they were originally designed to let users follow people they already know (or know of), apps like Twitter and Instagram have to turn the algorithmic spigot on slowly and hope that users don’t notice any sudden changes. In this case, we’ll have to wait and see.