TWITTER has been dubbed “big brother” by outraged users fearing their account will be dumped on its new unfollow list.
The company describes the feature, which recommends profiles you should stop following, as a “test” – but that hasn’t stemmed the tide of paranoia as users worry they could be blacklisted.
Social media consultant Matt Navarra revealed the unfollow option in a tweet after he was featured on it, sharing screenshots of a prompt asking users to “improve your timeline by reviewing some accounts you may not need to follow”.
When clicked, the link re-directs you to a list of accounts flagged by Twitter with the option to unfollow each one.
Speaking to The Sun, Navarra said the feature was a welcome one as it could help users clean up cluttered feeds, but lacked nuance.
“It seems like the test was based around twitter looking at accounts you engage with and ones you don’t, then suggesting to unfollow accounts that appeared to be low interest to you in an effort to reduce noise in your feed,” said the tipster.
He continued: “I’d find that useful but it may not take account of the fact users like me often lurk on other accounts and never retweet or like their tweets but still want to follow them to view their tweets.
“It may take that lack of engagement as a measure of low value to you which might not be accurate. I assume it’s algorithmically scored. Would be concerning if you found your account in a list a lot!”
The controversial feature has been exposed just days after Twitter and Facebook were embroiled in US President Donald Trump’s row with Google and social media over biased search results.
He said the Silicon Valley giants had to be “very careful”, after first accusing Google of rigging the search results for the phrase “Trump news”.
Trump’s economic adviser Larry Kudlow added the administration was “taking a look” at whether Google should be regulated and would do “some investigation and some analysis”.
The US President had previously suggested that Twitter is “shadow banning” and silencing conservative voices, a claim that CEO Jack Dorsey denied – though he did state that his company’s workers had a “left leaning bias”.
Of course, there’s no evidence to suggest that Twitter is targeting accounts from either side of the political spectrum as part of this latest test.
But it comes at a sensitive time for the platform, which is home to 335million users.
A Twitter spokesperson told The Sun that the feature is part of a small trial – the type of thing it conducts frequently to improve its service:
“We know that people want a relevant Twitter timeline. One way to do this is by unfollowing people they don’t engage with regularly. We ran an incredibly limited test to surface accounts that people were not engaging with to check if they’d like to unfollow them.”