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Twitter experiment turns favourites into retweets - and users aren't happy

Twitter is notorious for keeping a beady eye on its social media rivals, but its latest experiment on its Favorite (or "favourite" as we say in the UK) system has irked a considerable chunk of its users.

Many Twitter accounts feeds are now being clogged by favorites from those they follow in the same way that you'd normally see retweets. Users are also reporting that they receive notifications when others follow someone new.

The new notifications have upset many users who feel that they are unnecessary additions to their feeds. Nathan William confronted Twitter directly, tweeting "@twitter, so you're showing what people favourite on my timeline now? Isn't that what a RT is for?"

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Another user went even further, branding the move an "invasion of privacy." While that may seem extreme, it highlights the very real difference between a retweet and a favorite. Retweets exist to allow users to share content that they believe others will find interesting. Favorites, in contrast, were designed for more personal use.

For example, most people will favorite a tweet if it addresses them directly, to save a link to read later or to say thank you for something.

Of course, you can go through someone's saved favorites if you visit their profile directly and click the drop down list, but the new Twitter experiment flips the personal nature of favourites completely and makes them more public than ever before. They've become a sort of retweet.

Ostensibly, the move plays into Facebook's "like" algorithm where content is shared through approval of other users.

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Much to many user's concern, this cherry picking of Facebook features by Twitter could continue over the coming months. In May the New York Times reported that Twitter's CEO, Dick Costolo, was experimenting with Facebook-style algorithms designed to unearth the "best" content for users.

It would be yet another radical move, and perhaps the most controversial one yet. Whereas Facebook was founded to help you connect with friends, Twitter's philosophy centres around discovering the latest news and opinions on a global scale. Curtailing that to the people you follow would drastically alter that.

Are you now getting notifications every time someone in your feed follows someone else? Have you got access to someone else's Favorites? Let us know in the comment section below so we can get a wider sense on how broad this experiment is.

Image source: Shutterstock/Bloomua