by Slate (these highlights provided for you by Annotote)

Anthony Bardaro
Mar 14, 2017 · 3 min read

the algorithm so far has neither saved nor killed Twitter [and] fewer than 2% of all users opted out of the algorithmic timeline.

the algorithm is quietly starting to reshape both Twitter’s business and the way people experience it

The company says the effect has been to draw in new users and make the old ones more active [driving] desperately needed increases in key metrics such as monthly active users, impressions, and time spent on the site.

too much noise in your news?
get straight to the point!

It is a system so finely personalized that no two users will experience it in the same way yet rudimentary enough that its engineers are still struggling to ensure that it doesn’t show you the same people’s tweets every time you open the app.
#filter bubble #polarization #tribal

The reverse-chronological timeline stemmed from the site’s origins as a way to blast brief, real-time “status updates” via text message to friends and acquaintances. But over the years Twitter morphed into something more like a public platform for news, opinions, jokes.

Whereas right now Twitter’s algorithm affects only the tweets at the very top of your feed, Facebook’s automatically orders every post according to a highly sophisticated formula that is personalized to each user

the company now sees the timeline’s function as “helping users to stay informed with what’s going on in the world.”

The algorithm’s factors include:

  1. Engagement: including retweets, clicks, favorites, and time spent reading it;
  2. Engagement relative to other tweets by the same author;
  3. Recency;
  4. How often you engage with the tweet’s author;
  5. How much time you spend reading tweets by that author (even if you don’t engage);
  6. Media type: What kind of attachment the tweet includes (e.g. link, image, video, none);
  7. Media engagement: What kind of attachments you tend to engage with.

ICYMI, which used to be called “While you were away” … typically enters your feed only when it’s been several hours or a few days since you last opened Twitter.

Twitter has also recently begun using an algorithm to order the replies to popular tweets, giving rise to a cottage industry of “first replies”

Twitter assures me that it’s both concerned by and actively working to mitigate the algorithm’s potential to reinforce biases.

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Anthony Bardaro

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