Twitter’s Redesigned Discover Tab Is Watching You

Twitter announced today that it has “improved personalization algorithms and real-time indexing.” What does this mean? Twitter is making search more personalized (just like Google).

Twitter is “beginning to roll out” a new Discover tab. As this is just the beginning of the roll out, we expect there will be more changes to come, but for now we know that the blue bird plans to provide more personalized results for you to “discover.”

The stories you find in Discover will be driven by data gleaned on the folks you follow. Twitter will use this social data to better understand your interests and offer real-time stories that are highly relevant to you. Twitter’s Engineering blog tells us how it works:

Behind the scenes, the new Discover tab is powered by Earlybird, Twitter’s real-time search technology. When a user tweets, that Tweet is indexed and becomes searchable in seconds. Every Tweet with a link also goes through some additional processing: we extract and expand any URLs available in Tweets, and then fetch the contents of those URLs via SpiderDuck, our real-time URL fetcher.

To generate the stories that are based on your social graph and that we believe are most interesting to you, we first use Cassovary, our graph processing library, to identify your connections and rank them according to how strong and important those connections are to you.

Once we have that network, we use Twitter’s flexible search engine to find URLs that have been shared by that circle of people. Those links are converted into stories that we’ll display, alongside other stories, in the Discover tab. Before displaying them, a final ranking pass re-ranks stories according to how many people have tweeted about them and how important those people are in relation to you. All of this happens in near-real time, which means breaking and relevant stories appear in the new Discover tab almost as soon as people start talking about them.

When you see a story in Discover that interests you, you can click “view tweets” to see popular tweets from your network. Recent, relevant Tweets are displayed directly below the story summary.

You can reply, retweet or favorite Discover tab Tweets, or you can “Tweet this story” to share your own perspective. We haven’t been able to find the “Tweet this story” option yet, but guess that it will rival Tweetbot’s newly announced integration with Storify, which we told you about yesterday.

All of this sounds great, of course – as long as you’re not following too many people with varying interests. We’re guessing that following too many people may possibly skew the experience. But as the stated goal of these updates is to allow you to “get the information you need without having to follow additional accounts” – we’re thinking that if you feel that you ARE following too many people, this a good way to help you scale that number back.

These changes take effect today, so check out your Discover tab and let us know if you like what you see or if you have any other general impressions.

(Magnifying glass on laptop image from Shutterstock)