Who are algorithms working for?

I joined Twitter in 2007. And I loved it. At that time there were around 5,000 tweets a day. On the entire platform! I followed a bunch of nerds that had more interesting things to say than my university professors. Back then, my Twitter timeline was easy to consume. There were about 5-20 new Tweets every day. Then I was done reading and responding. Every Tweet came in instantly and chronologically. That was the innovation. It was easy to follow and the platform came with clear expectations. I’d check Twitter like my mailbox: “Oh still nothing there? I’ll check again later.”

What happened since then?

Algorithms took over. When Twitter says “Look Michael, this could be interesting for you today,” that’s when I miss 2007 Twitter the most. How does knowing what’s trending today benefit me? Why does Twitter think this ad is relevant to me? Does the algorithm think I’m left-wing or right-wing? Often I ask myself, why is all of this there now? Who are Twitter’s algorithms working for? For me? For them? Who is them? Investors? Advertisers? (I wasn’t thrilled when I tried to advertise on Twitter myself.) Who else could they be working for?

Algorithms are great if I understand how they work for me. On Spotify, I can ask the algorithm to show me music similar to the song that I’m listening to right now. That’s useful. But for content platforms? How should anyone except myself decide what I might want to read next?

Do I really need algorithms? Do I really need “People who read this also read this"? Couldn’t it be more like a library organized with shelves, sorted by date, topics, and authors? So that I get to choose a book myself, rather than some magic computer program selecting it for me?

If you go 28 days without posting, you'll get so heavily demoted in the feed that your next post will only be seen by a small percentage of your connections.

The above quote is from a LinkedIn Growth Guide. It is a reality that people who use Social Media successfully adjust to the algorithm regularly. Nothing wrong with it, if that’s your best option. But since I’m an engineer and a bit of a rebel, I’d rather change the game. I will bring “2007 Twitter” back! With an exact match search sorted by publication date, like in the good old days. Be prepared, big tech! 😉

Published by Michael Aufreiter on Sep 4, 2022
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