My mom recently got an Instagram and Facebook account and her learning curve has been extremely steep, to say the least. One funny comment that she made to me was “Oh my gosh, Instagram is saying that I should follow CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY! That is so weird of them… why do they think I would want to follow him??” She thought it was strange that Instagram was suggesting that she follow someone in the first place, but specifically that they would know that her daughter goes to Stanford and that she loves Stanford Football. I explained to her that they create the “Who to Follow” page based off of mutual friends, but she was still not convinced and still thinks it’s all a little bit “creepy” haha.
When I saw this article about how Twitter recently changed its formula for Who To Follow suggestions I was interested to learn more about it and it seemed related to what we are learning about the formulas companies use increase the traffic on their sites. The old formula was based on your recent behavior on twitter, but their new formula Connect makes suggestions based on “whom you already follow, tweets you’ve liked, and accounts that are popular in your area, as well as accounts that Twitter operates itself.” Twitter now also explains how these picks were made and provides complete user bios for its suggested accounts. They also they have included new features like the ability to upload your phone’s contact list to see which friends are already on Twitter. All of these additions make the process of finding new people to follow much easier, which will get people on Twitter more often. It is interesting to think that something that seems so personal like choosing who to follow on Instagram or what sites you look at online can all be decided by a formula.