As the new owner of Twitter, Elon Musk tinkering around with the social network’s array of features, more algorithmic recommendations are clearly on the way.
Twitter’s support account tweeted about the change on Wednesday, noting that the platform is “expanding recommendations to all users.” This is, of course, under the guise of providing users with the “best” content (Instagram also likes to use this line), but in reality, including more referrals in a social feed makes users expect more paid content as well.
Twitter didn’t provide any other details about the recommendation change, but did link to a previous blog post explaining how their algorithmic content works and where it can be displayed. According to the post, “recommendations may appear on your home timeline, in certain places in the Explore tab, and elsewhere on Twitter.” As it stands now, you can switch between the home feed and the “latest tweets” by clicking the sparkly button in the upper right corner of the timeline.
It’s not immediately clear if Twitter plans to push more recommended tweets into the “home” timeline or if it’s something more aggressive, but we tweeted into the void to ask the company for more clarity. Some users have already noticed changes that seem to affect home feeds for now.
Twitter offers two different feeds: “recent tweets,” which show tweets from people you follow in chronological order, and “home,” a curated collection of popular tweets from your followers. In our experience, the latter was occasionally mixed in with some recommendations outside of our following lists, but was mostly a non-chronological collection of tweets from people we followed.
Given Musk’s habit of spreading quickly major feature changes (and then roll them back up), we wouldn’t be surprised to see Twitter load up on recommendations or even switch the default feed in that direction, so we’ll keep our eyes open for something major.
Before Musk, the platform plans to make recommendations more prominent but reversed course after consumer backlash. On Instagram, users have expressed similar fatigue at seeing their feeds cluttered with content from people they don’t follow. For TikTok, providing algorithmically curated content is in the app’s DNA, but many other social platforms need to tread more carefully.
Because they were originally designed to allow users to follow people they already know (or know), apps like Twitter and Instagram have to turn on the algorithmic faucet slowly and hope users don’t notice sudden changes. In that case, we’ll have to wait and see.