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Will Twitter's New Algorithmic Feed Be a Bust?

February 07, 2016 00:00 AM UTC
- Updated September 02, 2020 11:36 AM UTC

Fortune’s Andrew Nusca and Robert Hackett discuss.

Transcript
ANDREW NUSCA: Twitter is moving toward a more algorithmic feed that makes it a lot like Facebook. Robert, is this the right call for the company? ROBERT HACKETT: At the risk of infuriating the entire Twittersphere, I think this is the best possible decision that Twitter can make right now. ANDREW NUSCA: Really? ROBERT HACKETT: Yeah, they are getting hammered by Wall Street. Investors are not taking much stock in the company. They brought in Jack Dorsey once again as CEO, as a supposed product visionary to make big changes to shake things up. We've been stuck with the same news feed for years. And I think now is the time for a change. ANDREW NUSCA: But it sounds like Dorsey wants to take the vision of Twitter as it has been already and just smash it to pieces. I mean, come on now. When you go to Twitter.com and you're not signed in, it says, see what the world's talking about, right? The world's conversation right now happening. And when you sign into Twitter, and it's an algorithmic feed, you're not going to see what people are talking about right now. You're going to actually see what they were talking about yesterday. Is that really the right direction? ROBERT HACKETT: Sure, Twitter has always billed itself as the real-time news network. That's where you go to see what's happening right now at this very moment. And that may work for power users like you and I, journalists who are constantly glued to our screens, checking the updates every second, every minute of the day. ANDREW NUSCA: Sure. ROBERT HACKETT: But if you want to get broad appeal, if you want to get a mass market audience, you need to make changes. You need adjustments, soft entry point and landing point for people who are just going to check their feed for a few minutes every day. ANDREW NUSCA: All right, I'm starting to come around to this algorithmic thing, but honestly, it sounds like the devil's in the details here. I mean, come on take the Super Bowl, right? Big game, just happened. And when you go into Twitter.com, you want to see what's happening in the game, how people are reacting to the plays, how people are reacting to the commercials in between the plays. And you're going to go there and you're going to see everybody's predictions from the night before. That's no good at all. And then on top of all of this, do you really trust the company that brought you moments, which I and most other users have yet to spend a moment in, to pull this off? ROBERT HACKETT: Ugh, right. Moments was a missed opportunity for sure. But if the stock price is any indication, it is in the gutter right now. And if Twitter is going to continue to do the same thing again and again and expect a different result, that is the definition of madness. This might be just the thing that Twitter needs to turn that company around. ANDREW NUSCA: That's a fair point. For one show that's always in your news feed, come to Fortune.com for more Tech Debate.