Twitter bug on “Followed by” recommendations

You tend to trust a person more when you have mutual connections. That’s even more true for online connections.I just found what appears to be a Twitter bug that throws all that trust out the window.

I manage the site for the local high school soccer team, and was getting the site and its social media set up for the new year. I decided to follow a few of the other high school sports Twitter accounts as a way to better interact with the local athletics community. Until then, I had only followed my own twitter account (@jeff__moser) from the soccer account (@MoCoSoccer).

After adding a couple of the “who to follow” recommendations for other sports team accounts, I opened up the full list. What I found really surprised me.

I only follow one of the top six recommendations shown.
I only follow one of the six recommendations pictured here.

There were dozens of local people in the list that said, “Followed by Jeff Moser.” I know most of the people listed—they are local and it’s a small town. I’ve even followed a few of them. But I have never followed the overwhelming majority of them!

I counted them—until I started seeing the Taylor Swift and Bieber recommendations—and found that I follow less than one-third of the accounts Twitter attributes to my personal account.

I could see there being a bug doing this. Twitter has had some crazy bugs before. The algorithm grabs accounts related to those you’re already following. And I’m sure location plays a part in the recommendations. So I suppose a bug could duplicate the “Followed by” erroneously from one recommendation to another. But it adds a false authority to those accounts.

I’m nobody on Twitter, so there’s really no gain here. But what if you’ve just followed someone like Gary Vaynerchuk, and you are now presented with a list of recommendations that all say, “Followed by Gary Vaynerchuk” under them? If Gary V. follows someone, you can bet they’re pretty influential! But if this is a bug (or something more nefarious) then it’s just going to create more connections that you might not have wanted otherwise.

In the end, the worst that can happen is you make more connections than you otherwise might have done. I don’t have many connections and my tweet stream is plenty crowded already. But if I want a targeted list of people to follow, this bug could throw that off quickly.

Connecting is good. Informed connections are better.


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