Twitter injects favourites into newsfeeds, but is it an ‘invasion of privacy’?

Twitter injects people's favourites into newsfeeds, annoying many

Image of stars and Twitter logo composite, stars courtesy of ShutterstockTwitter is taking people’s favourites and injecting them into others’ newsfeeds as if they were retweets.

The move is causing harrumphing among people who mistakenly thought their favourites were private.

A few such:

XtinaCulture tweet


Twitter is showing what you favorite now... That is like an invasion of privacy.

J tweet


Twitter showing what people favorite now .... Can't even lurk in private

The thing is, we never could have lurked in private, favouriting tweets from our super-secret hidden bat caves.

That’s because the information’s readily available.

All somebody has to do is to go to your Twitter account and click on a list that displays all your favourites on one page, like this.

Still, some Twitter users seem to prefer having at least what they think of as “semi-private” favs – as in, private if you assume that others don’t know/care enough to click on a page to see what Twitterishly turns you on.


@pkafka That sucks. Favorites should be semi-private.

The Next Web’s Jon Russell reports that he first got wind of the RT-ification of favourites on 4 August.

Screenshot of Jon Russell Twitter conversation

Since then, users report that Twitter has increased the volume of your favourites that it shows to your friends. As well, people are being notified when others follow someone new.

I reached out to Twitter to ask for the rationale behind what might just be an experiment and for any other details it might want to share. I’ll update the article if I hear back.

But given that it’s a service that runs on advertising revenue, one might assume that the newsfeed tweaks are yet more sticks to poke at that honey hole.

Beware, Twitter: right now, you’re respected as a decent source of news.

Take care that you don’t dilute that by unleashing algorithms and experiments that pollute newsfeeds.

Stuffing people’s newsfeeds with content they didn’t ask for is a sure way to convince people you’re getting Facebook-y.

UPDATE 20 August 2014
: This was originally an experiment, but it’s now official: it’s here to stay.

Twitter has added a passage to this page on its help center which explains that information will be added to your timeline from accounts you don’t follow.

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.

Image of stars courtesy of Shutterstock.