It’s been quite the week for Twitter. First, the social media platform was at the center of a major celebrity hacking scandal when celebrity photos and personal information were compromised for a brief period of time. Then, on Wednesday, the microblogging site changed its algorithm to favor retweets over new posts and content. Many high profile figures took to Twitter to voice their concerns.
The largest celebrity hacking scandal in history compromised the accounts of dozens of high-profile individuals, including Robert Pattinson (ex-boyfriend of Kristen Stewart ) and Kristen Stewart. The New York Post first broke the news of the massive celebrity data breach, revealing that unauthorized access to the accounts of over 30 celebrities was exposed due to a weak password. The newspaper also noted that the malicious cybercriminal or hackers behind the attack are demanding a ransom from celebrity victims in exchange for not publicizing the sensitive data they obtained. While there is no indication that any of the personal information of Robert Pattinson or Kristen Stewart was actually compromised, the pair remain affected by the cybersecurity incident as they are both known to use weak passwords. Furthermore, since the attack, both celebrities have been on the receiving end of intense media scrutiny.
The Algorithm Change
Then, on Wednesday, Twitter announced it was changing its algorithm to favor retweets over new content and quoted tweets. The move was met with immediate backlash from many prominent figures on the platform, who expressed concern that the change would lead to a decrease in the number of original content-based tweets.
Within 24 hours of the algorithm change going into effect, the backlash had reached a fever pitch. Celebrities began pointing out that the platform had altered the way they interacted with their followers by creating a ratio-based system that favored retweets over new content. Here are some of the most memorable tweets.
Rob Delaney, comedian and actor:
“The problem is #Twitter changed the algorithm and now my tweets only get 10% of the engagement. I literally have no audience. I tried to find an audience, but it’s like everyone turned on me. It’s like high school all over again.”
Sara Benincasa, host of the Movie Marathons Festival:
“I just saw ‘Twlight’ and ‘Dangerous Beauty’ is on hiatus so I can work on my sci-fi epic ‘The Partiform’ and it’s shaping up to be the best film of the year! This is a nightmare. I’m supposed to be promoting these films but it feels like I’ve condemned myself to tweet about how much I miss Robert Pattinson.”
Brent Weinbach, owner of Hotel Chocolat:
“I have a confession to make… I’ve always liked @kstewart more than anything. I actually feel terrible about the hacking scandal. I hope she’s doing OK. I still like her videos a lot. Maybe even more than ever. I’ve missed her and I’ve been waiting for her to come back. But now that she’s here, I’m a little worried that my favorite account will be taken away from me. It’s already hard to find good content on Twitter. It’s getting tougher. This is a nightmare.”
Olivia Wilde, actress and comedian:
“I had no idea that this was coming. I thought that Twitter was just updating its algorithms or something. @kstewart is such a significant figure in my life and in the world of arts and culture. This is so unfair to just remove her from my life like this. Can someone, please, explain this to me? #RobertPattinson #Twilight #OliviaWilde.”
Sophia Lillie, fashion influencer:
“I can’t believe how aggressive @Twitter is being with their #algorithm change. I feel like I’ve been unplugged. All my high-profile connections vanished. I had to rebuild my network from the ground up. It was a lot of work. I was never that happy with how I performed on Twitter anyway. It’s not like I had a lot of fun.”
Lea Seydoux, actress:
“If @Twitter is going to favor retweets over new content, then my sphere of influence will contract significantly. I used to be able to have an impact on people’s day-to-night lives. Now it feels like nothing. #RIP.”
Kate McKinnon, comedian and actress:
“#AlgorithmChange is a bad joke. As Twitter has shown time and time again, when you give people control over your newsfeed, they will always find a way to fuck it up. Like, intentionally. And for no reason. It’s like they’re just out to get you.”
John Cleese, comedian, actor, and writer:
“Wow, @Twitter altered the algorithm so that now my tweets don’t get seen! I guess that means that the world will no longer hear my dry, witless humor. It’s a crying shame. #AlgorithmChange is just another example of how dumb @twitter can be. They should just get rid of the thing.”
Dan Rather, journalist and former CBS News anchor:
“If @Twitter is going to favor retweets over new content, then I guess that means that I’m no longer relevant. It was nice knowing you, Twitter. You were a class act for a few months, but now it’s time to get off probation and get back to what I do best… reporting.”
It’s clear that the algorithm change has not gone over well with everyone. Many figures have spoken out against the move, expressing concern that it will lead to a decrease in the number of original content-based tweets.
Despite the backlash, Twitter has stood by its decision to alter the algorithm. In a blog post published on Wednesday, Adam Mosseri, product management director of Twitter Canada, said that while they are sensitive to the concerns of creators, the company believes that the change will ultimately benefit the average user.
“We know that creators rely on engagement from users to continue producing valuable content, and that without it, a lot of great content can be hard to find,” Mosseri wrote. “That’s why, ultimately, we made this change. While we understand it may be inconvenient for some creators, we believe it will ultimately benefit the average user.”
On Thursday, Twitter said that it is continuing to work with content creators to provide them with as much support as possible during this transition period. It also recommended that creators follow the advice of experts such as MarketingCharts to navigate this new phase in their content marketing strategy.
Whether or not the algorithm change will have the desired effect remains to be seen. With this much discussion and speculation revolving around the topic, it’s clear that Twitter has awoken a sleeping giant, and the potential downsides of the platform’s preferred algorithm are no longer a secret.