“Bring your own algorithm”

Published by Danny Denhard on

Twitter - Bring your own algorithm

Recently Twitter co-founder and current CEO Jack Dorsey suggested that they would consider allowing users to bring your own algorithm to Twitter.

On the surface this is not the worst idea, why? Users could decide what algorithm works for them (it should work more like filters) and what they would like to see.

I imagine Twitter sees this like their previous ways of working with tool makers who would build onto the Twitter platform and enable developers and tool makers to create a self serve service where you can be served the best content from your followers, from topics and from the trending world.

Or alternatively like what TikTok offers to serve you content you just like and will stay on the platform for, with Twitter’s background and insight into your liking, engagement and tweeting habits this should be something that could happen.

One issue providing users knew how algorithms worked and understood that not everyone has the same experience and choosing your own adventure might actually decrease your experience or worse still push you into more filters.

Twitter’s obsession with being seen and used as a news source could also be a problem for their more recent idea.

A last potential issue is advertising would be a nightmare and would need to flip the model completely to make it work.

Twitter is an enragement engine, more enragement the more engagement and more engagement it sees. Twitter has quickly become the angry centre of social media and despite the odd bright light or insight, in recent times it has made users unhappier than when they started.
Twitter is primed for doomscrolling.

Tweetdeck is still a better experience for Twitter, using filters and search filters you can have a decent experience and one away from the dominated news cycles.

This could also be a play towards a substantial subscription model away from advertising that has struggled for Twitter. Charging users to use, charging users to follow, charging to engage are all options, charging based on followers or exclusive content is the most logical but sometimes Twitter just isn’t logical.

I see the potential and some logic in BYOA, only for those who truly know and understand the tech. Twitter has to be the product leaders to enhance and improve their out of the box algorithm, relying on external talent to keep you relevant and improve your users experience is likely a recipe for disaster.


2 Comments

Matthew Kindzerske · November 12, 2020 at 8:17 pm

I’m really digging this notion of BYOA to twitter, I don’t think it will really take off or become widely used (if Twitter ever implemented), but I think at the very least it’s an important thought experiment to get more people educated to what the actual Twitter feed algorithm is doing.

    Danny Denhard · November 14, 2020 at 11:14 am

    Agreed Matthew. Let’s see how this develops.

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