Now that I’m re-addicted to Twitter–for better or for worse–I started noticing that even though I follow a lot of people, I never happen to see any tweets from them unless I search. It occurred to me to check my settings, vaguely recalling they’ve changed their algorithm (now that I Google it I see it was more than a year ago…that’s apparently how engaged I was on Twitter this time last year. The new algorithm basically turned Twitter into the total waste of time that Facebook’s newsfeed has become…because that’s what happens when an algorithm determines it knows what you want to see better than you yourself have already indicated you want to see based on who you follow.
Apparently I’m not the only one who seemed to have missed this algorithm change, as only 2% of users opted out. I personally think the fact that only 2% of users opted out of their new algorithmic timeline doesn’t mean that people embraced the new algorithm; I think it’s a testament to the fact that most people stopped finding Twitter relevant a while ago and probably didn’t even notice anything had changed and/or didn’t care. I’m definitely in that camp.
Two Twitter Settings to Check
Anyway, I digress…back to settings and how you can both make sure you’re privacy settings are what you want them to be and ensure you are viewing Twitter the way it’s most useful to you, not most useful to Twitter. When I checked these settings, I found two things that a) I didn’t want enabled and b) were responsible for turning my Twitter feed into a useless echo chamber. Here are the two things you might want to check to make sure your privacy settings are what you want them to be and also that you’re seeing what you want to see in your feed.
The first is which tweets you see and in what order. To check this setting go to: Settings > Content > Timeline > and you’ll see that, unless you’ve changed it, it’s set to “Show me the best tweets first,” which Twitter describes as “Tweets you are likely to care about most will show up first in your timeline. We choose them based on accounts you interact with most, Tweets you engage with, and much more.” But since this setting was auto-enabled, then how did I get to pick what I liked before Twitter started serving more of that to me, and hiding the rest? Thanks but I’ll take Twitter the way it started and the way it was meant to be, IMO–I follow people I want to see tweets from and I want to see those tweets.
I have created my own workaround to segmenting Twitter content into manageable segments by creating lists by topic. For instance, politics. I was finding following politics on Twitter not only super time-consuming but just stressful. I unfollowed all the reporters/wonks/pundits/conspiracy theorists (my favorite, of course) and instead added them all to a Politics list (feel free to subscribe if you want to dive down that rabbit hole yourself). A few times a day I allow myself to go down that particular rabbit hole, but limiting it to that view has helped a lot with both time-suck and stress. You can do the same for specific topics or people to be able to create customized views for whatever topic/group you want. You can set these lists to public or private.
The second is “tailored suggestions,” which means, as far as I’m concerned, following you around the web and being creepy. Twitter explains it means “this feature offers dynamic suggestions about people you might enjoy following, keeping Twitter naturally aligned with your evolving interests. You can find some of these suggestions in the Who to follow section of your Home timeline, as well as the Notifications and Me pages of your account.” To check this setting go to: Privacy and Safety > Personalization > and, if you want to disable this, uncheck “Tailor Twitter based on my recent website visits.”
Another thing I didn’t realize was that Twitter now auto-enables your account to be tied to your phone number and email address–you can turn one or both off; both are auto-enabled. This is also under Privacy and Safety > Discoverability.
Now that I’ve tweaked these settings and created a few segmented lists, I have to say that I’ve gone back to finding Twitter to be really useful for following news and finding information. Sadly, the good old days of using Twitter to make personal connections are pretty much gone…although I still do have those moments.
Any Twitter hacks, suggestions or lists you would add?
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