Earlier this month, Twitter quietly began a new experiment which pushed other users’ favorited tweets into your own timeline, as if they were retweets. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t especially welcome, so Twitter has taken the obvious next step: rolled it out to even more people.
Reports over the weekend suggest many more Twitter users are now seeing the favorited tweets show up in their timelines, and the general consensus on the system is still low.
Part of the frustration stems from how people use retweets and favorites in different ways. A retweet – where the original tweet is pushed into your own timeline, so that your follows will then see it – is a public way of drawing attention to something. That’s led to controversy among some over whether a retweet should be considered endorsements or simply an act of flagging, but either way it’s an acknowledged public event.
Favorites, however, tend to be considered more private, at least between the person doing the favoriting and the author of the tweet themselves. Twitter will notify anybody cited in the message that the tweet has been favorited, but until now it’s been a relatively off-the-grid event.
Without knowing whether favorites are going to subsequently be publicized, however, Twitter users may find themselves reluctant to hit the star button.
Google has taken a similar approach with Google+, with the occasional story or link that a user there has given their “+1” vote to also showing up in the streams of the people that follow them on the social network. However, that’s a long-standing behavior, rather than a new addition like Twitter’s experiment.