Twitter is a simple service. The basic idea is you follow accounts you’re interested in, and people who like your posts (tweets) follow you. Due to its origins being based around SMS, each tweet is restricted to 140 characters, forcing brevity.
The problem with Twitter is it’s never made piles of cash, and it’s clear those in command have been enviously glancing at Facebook for a long time now. This has led to changes in the way Twitter operates, some of which have been merely irksome but understandable (inline ads), and a few of which have actually been beneficial (expanded tweets, providing inline previews for linked content).
Today’s change regarding the Twitter timeline goes a step too far, though:
Additionally, when we identify a Tweet, an account to follow, or other content that’s popular or relevant, we may add it to your timeline. This means you will sometimes see Tweets from accounts you don’t follow. We select each Tweet using a variety of signals, including how popular it is and how people in your network are interacting with it. Our goal is to make your home timeline even more relevant and interesting.
In other words, your timeline is no longer just manually curated. This breaks a fundamental contract with the user and totally changes the basic premiss of Twitter. In essence, Twitter just became Facebook — just with shorter posts.
I’m sure Twitter will argue this change benefits the user, in delivering them more content they might be interested in, but it’s also poor user experience to dump content into someone’s timeline that they didn’t request. In the short term, you can get around this by using third-party Twitter clients or bookmark/default to a Twitter list, but I imagine the former won’t exist for much longer and the latter will continue to be buried deep within Twitter’s options.
But, hey, at least you’ll see that tweet from someone you’ve never had contact with, about something you probably don’t care about, right?