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What the New Discover Tab Means for the Future of Twitter

On May 1st, Twitter released its new Discover tab that shows users personalized trends and stories based on an algorithm that includes the accounts you follow and the accounts those accounts follow. While it may seem like a completely positive change (theoretically, the information is more relevant to you because it is relevant to your contacts) the new tab follows a social media trend that threatens to blend sites together and blur the line between what you want to find and what an equation wants you to find.

What did we used to see before the update? Sometimes it’s hard to remember the way things were even if the change just happened. Well the discover tab, launched in December 2011, featured news from around the Twitterverse, acting as a Twitter trend front page that showed the same information for all Twitter users.

Now the information in the “Stories” section of the Discovery tab is specific to your Twitter experience.

The personalized experience is changing the way most social media platforms operate. Facebook recently released a trending articles feature that shows you the articles your friends are reading on the social reader apps. This is just the latest of a number of changes Facebook has implemented that give you more relevant content.

Google’s search changed completely when it released Google Search Plus Your World which changes your Google search results and rankings based on your Google+ activity.

The name of the game seems to be custom experience, and with all the information these sites receive from its users, why not use it to deliver an experience based on that info? Maybe because it changes what Twitter has stood for all along.

Since its inception, Twitter has acted as a site you use to go out and find the information you want. They would provide all the tools, but you needed to follow the right people, search the right hashtags, and keep an eye out for the trends. But with this new change, Twitter is instead inching closer to bringing the information to your doorstep, leaving out the news that may seem disconnected from you, but information you want nonetheless.

While we struggle to find the perfect equation for content curation, we may lose the things that makes the sites we love different and unique. Hopefully Twitter's new Discover tab is not a omen for things to come, but considering the changes happening to the sites all around it, it may just be the beginning.


This is a post from Daniel Levine at, a field guide to the Internet where users can learn about everything from Facebook Timeline videos to how to use Pinterest.

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