Twitter 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:
Twitter is showing what you favorite now... That is like an invasion of privacy.
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.
— John McDermott (@mcdermott) August 17, 2014
@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.
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.
7 comments on “Twitter injects favourites into newsfeeds, but is it an ‘invasion of privacy’?”
Everything we do on social media sites is surely an invasion of privacy. If people do wish to remain private, maybe they should stay away from these sites. It depends what we want to achieve in using them….just a thought
I do not belong to social sites, other than as below.
I found that Amazon had made my wish list public.
Pinterest made my real name and my “handle” public.
Both available to anyone who types my name into a search engine.
This shall show up, also.
So far, eBay my dealings with eBay have not turned up.
It is like having a garrulous and indiscrete work associate.
Yet another very good reason for staying well clear of any such so-called ‘social media’ websites. They are all dangerously open to abuse.
I would generally agree that anyone offended by this change probably shouldn’t have been using Twitter in the first place. However, there are far worse privacy abuses out there (if you can even characterize this in that way…) than taking something which was already publicly available with an extra click and making it more obvious by including it in the timeline.
Can’t say I’ve ever had any expectation of privacy, so I’m not sure anyone should actually call it “invasion of privacy.” Sure, it might be information we don’t want public for some reason or other, but that means not participating.
I don’t “Like” YouTube videos for this specific reason.
We ought to be protected from such changes in a similar way that the DPA has principle 2 for personal data: “Personal data shall be obtained only for one or more specified and lawful purposes, and shall not be further processed in any manner incompatible with that purpose or those purposes.”.
I’m sure we all sign up to allow such changes when we join Twitter, etc. but the acid test from the designers should always include “how will this change affect the end user’s privacy?”.
Once again we get concerns that a “free service” (read: a service where we volunteer to be the product), is trying to set the expectations of their users/products. There is some interesting use of language:
“Social” media has the scope to be profoundly “anti-social”
“Favourite” does not necessarily mean “and I want to tell everyone”
“Like” no longer means “like”.
“Free” may be “free of immediate direct money cost” but is not “free from cost”
Any dominant player where the business model relies on “doing stuff with user data” is potentially a danger to privacy. We need new business models that get away from this – but we have to realise that if we want to be users and not product we have to move away from the “something for nothing” expectation.
What in reality would be the monthly cost of a subscription to user-centric and not data-centric Twitter, facebook etc. and what value do we put not just on our privacy but on the security of knowing that we do not have to be constantly on our guard for invasive techniques?