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Twitter’s “While you were away”

The appeal Twitter has for some people is what makes others stay off of this platform.  Twitter offers you the ability to write short messages, up to 140 characters, quickly.  This makes it easier to post multiple times, unlike platforms that often get lengthier posts like Facebook.  Many of the people I follow on Twitter live-tweet sporting events, chronicling what happens during the game for all of their followers to see.  Now I get to what keeps people away– the overwhelming amount of tweets that accumulate when you don’t check it often.

Twitter now has a solution to help users catch up on what their friends have been tweeting while they were gone.  Launched on January 21, this feature is called “While you were away” will show users some of the best tweets during their hiatus tweets to help bridge the gap between the last visit and now, determined by engagement with users as well as some other features not disclosed by Twitter.

I’ve only gotten this feature once since it was launched, January 27, so this feature may not be useful to me.  I immediately took a screenshot because I wasn’t sure what this feature was and wanted to document this unfamiliarity.

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I frequently engage with Kasey and Kareem (Big Reem is his name here) on Twitter so I can see why they would be included, but I followed John Robinson just the day before.  John is the professor of my Current Issues in Mass Communication class, the class that urges us to write about changes we notice in the media and mass communication.  He compiles the blogs written for this class onto this website and if you have a few minutes, I’d check it out.

I don’t check my Twitter timeline all day long when I have class all day– and definitely not while I sleep– but Twitter doesn’t consider me to be “away” even during periods of absence.  I find myself checking Twitter many times throughout the day, besides the periods I previously mentioned.  Though Twitter doesn’t consider me a user that’s away from the platform very much, I’d like to see it more often because I haven’t decided if I would like it or not.

None of the people I follow on Twitter have mentioned it.  None.  Zero out of 206.  This makes me think that “While you were away” was not targeted at college students that have their phones glued to their hands at all hours of the day.

An article I read on the Search Engine Journal made a great point about the feature that I suspect will go over well with users: it will only include tweets from people you actually follow.  No ads or “recommended tweets” as Twitter calls them but are advertisements.  Only people you care about.

Unless my habits change, I probably won’t see many “While you were away” updates, but I’m interested to see what my friends have to say about it when they actually notice it.  Don’t worry– I’ll keep you updated.