Twitter is in the midst of implementing its while you were away feature which gives Twitter users a summary of Tweets since the last time they checked in. This feature works along the lines of Facebook’s algorithm, which summarizes the most popular posts in your news feed, and has drawn criticism from long-time Twitter users, who argue that the reason Twitter is so great is that it’s not like Facebook (embed tweet). Twitter users have complete control over their own timelines, which is one of the main reasons everyone loves the platform.
— OrangeCounty (@HannSollo) January 3, 2015
Why the change?
If Twitter users are so content with the way the platform currently works then why change it? Well, Twitter has had some issues accruing new users. One of the reasons for this is because many first-time users have trouble figuring out exactly how Twitter works. While you were away seeks to resolve the problem by making it easier to see some of the most important Tweets you might have missed if you weren’t logged in when they were tweeted. Twitter hopes that this will not only make it easier for first-time users to get in the swing of things faster, but also encourage more new user signups.
What does this mean for the user experience?
While the while you were away feature may not irritate regular users, it might possibly impact brands and their visibility. In the same way Facebook Business Pages have lost “Post Reach” to alarming degree, brands using Twitter fear they may face a similar fate. It’s likely that Twitter, like Facebook, will implement their own version of “Boost Post,” where brands might pay a fixed sum to ensure that their Tweets reach a certain guaranteed number of users.
We’ll have to wait and see what happens while we’re out.