Editorial: Twitter switch bad for news-seekers, millennials


Katy Klopfenstein/Iowa State Daily

Madison Ward Twitter. 

Editorial Board

Twitter announced earlier this month that it would be switching newsfeeds for its users from the reverse chronological order, or newest tweets first, to a newsfeed that would first show what Twitter thinks each individual user would care about most. Twitter believes this change will help users, especially those who follow a large number of accounts, not miss out on important tweets because of timing, according to an ABC News article.

While it is understandable that Twitter has every intention of helping its readers and increasing engagement on its site, this move to a more Facebook-like newsfeed is a bad idea for anyone seeking news in real time, especially millennials. This switch goes against what Twitter is at its essence and probably its most important service to others — real-time information.

It is no secret that news organizations use Twitter to push their information out to their readers — just like on many other social media networks. However, its real-time nature ensures that information can get out to readers quickly — especially in cases of emergencies. While there is no way to tell what the real impact of this switch will be, it seems it will hinder the immediate sharing of information.

This change will affect a large number of people — especially millennials. The Pew Research Center reported that 23 percent of adults who use the Internet also use Twitter. Of that 23 percent, 38 percent of them use the site on a daily basis. The site also serves a younger audience; 30 percent of Internet users under 50 also use Twitter, according to the Pew Research study.

These numbers are essential when considering how millennials consume and engage with news. While they are less likely get their news in a traditional way like a newspaper, 69 percent of millennials consume news at least once a day, while 85 percent of them say keeping up with the news is at least somewhat important to them, according to an American Press Institute report.

Twitter’s presence is even more important to millennials because they are more likely to consume news by way of social media. In all, 33 percent of millennials report getting news from Twitter occasionally — with 13 percent saying they get news from the site on a daily basis, according to the Media Insight Project.

Obviously this is a very sizable group of people who rely on Twitter to stay informed. So should their knowledge of the world and ability to stay informed be left up to just the information that is most popular or tweeted out by the most influential Twitter accounts?

Lastly, before this new algorithm for Twitter’s newsfeeds, everyone was on an equal playing field. No matter whose account it was, each person or news organization had an equal shot at being read by its followers. When it comes to news organizations, each one had the same opportunity of getting its information out.

The change in Twitter’s newsfeed seems to be a step in the wrong direction for users — especially millennials — and those trying to stay informed, speak out or interact with others. It is unknown just how much this change will affect the kind of news everyone will receive, but taking away the real-time aspect and an equal playing field is not a positive change.