I used to tweet every day. I set up a Twitter account a long time ago, not long after a fellow I worked with recommended it because I would set my Yahoo! Messenger status to clever things throughout the day, and he said that Twitter was a way to do that where the clever things would persist.
So I used it to post ‘clever’ things about the work day and quality assurance and to chit chat with other testers.
But a couple of years ago, both my Twitter feed and Twitter started to change. Twitter decided to make its Notifications screen not a mention of tweets to you and retweets of your tweets, but also unrelated and trivial things, like noting that people you follow followed someone or liked the tweet of someone, and it started to make recommendations for you. We’ll get to that in a moment.
I also found that the tweets on the feed were becoming mostly political. In the embryonic stage of the #MeToo moment, the women testers on my feed started talking about the gender disparity in tech, and soon that overran my feed since men either agreed or moved on. Once that started, and perhaps somewhere at or after 2012, the formerly tech-specific people I followed were all-politics most-of-the-time. Twitter wasn’t fun any more.
I still log in once every couple of months to see if I’ve missed and Direct Messages (I have not; the last DM I have is from former reader and commenter John Farrier, and that’s from years ago).
When I logged in yesterday, all of the above culminated in this “recommendation:”
Clearly, Twitter is not sharing data with Facebook, where the political leanings silo puts me to the right of the Birchers.
So, does Twitter recommend this particular vocal representative to me because:
- A lot of people I follow follow her?
- A lot of people I follow are left wing, so I must be left wing, too, so here’s someone else who is left wing?
- The congressional representative or some shadowy dark money enterprise paid Twitter to suggest her a lot?
- Twitter, the company, the organization, the entity, wants me to follow her?
Given the opacity of Big Tech and its algorithms, it could be any of them.