updated 07:50 pm EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Company alters help page to reflect change in timeline content from popular, relevant accounts
Twitter users may have seen a number of items showing up in their feeds from users they don't follow for the last few weeks. In what was thought to be one of the company's experiments, tweets from users that aren't followed and random favorites from others were showing up in timelines. It appears that the feature is no longer in testing, as Twitter has added the new feature to its help page about timelines.
According to the help page update, Twitter is offering what it believes is popular or relevant accounts or tweets to users. This happens on top of retweets, promoted tweets and other advertising items that already show up on official Twitter app feeds. The idea behind the new content is that Twitter is trying to give its users a better experience by exposing them to more content.
"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," reads the help page. "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."
Quartz first spotted the timeline page change, pointing out that the change doesn't seem to include retweeted content. By altering what shows up in the timeline, however, Twitter is changing its basic approach. Previously, content from followed accounts showed up in chronological order, but the change could alter that in the future. Either way, there will be more content to sift through depending on the amount the company intends to add to feeds.
However, it does show that Twitter is looking toward the future. As with all of the tests that the company runs, Twitter says it is constantly looking to make the user experience better. While many of these tests are only pushed out to a few users and are never adopted, the company continues to look for ways to survive as trends, technology and social media changes.
It isn't explained how the tweets are being injected into timelines, but the methodology is probably based on some kind of algorithm based on the idea that the are tweets from "popular or relevant accounts." Facebook does something similar with extra content that it delivers to news feeds.