Twitter tends to reveal a lot about people. The tweets they like, the accounts they follow, and their inane 280-character musings depict a sometimes not-so-complex picture of the platform’s users.
And then there’s Topics. Unveiled in November of last year, the mostly forgotten feature was pitched as a way to let you follow rather specific areas of interest (i.e. topics) rather than specific accounts.
Importantly, if your account is public, anyone can see what topics you’ve decided to follow — highlighting all the wonderful and strange stuff you go out of your way to keep abreast of.
Twitter introduced a feature that I thought no one used. You can choose which topics you want to follow for your news feed and others can view your choices
these are Eric Trumps
Rogan, MMA, Hunting, and lying to himself that he gives a fuck about space https://t.co/wV0znCb7Yy pic.twitter.com/ytmRTxzoG2
— zedster (@z3dster) September 2, 2020
To see what topics a person follows on Twitter, simply add /topics to the end of their account page in a browser. So, for example, https://twitter.com/elonmusk/topics reveals that the Tesla CEO Elon Musk is super interested in “PC gaming.”
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, on the other hand, loves himself some “Dungeons & Dragons” and “Roleplaying games.” Oh yeah, and Coldplay.
Of course, it might be easy to discern some of this information just from checking out people’s timelines or profiles — Khosrowshahi calls himself a “gamer who doesn’t have enough time to play much” — in his own profile. Even so, there is something particularly revealing and possibly sad about the fact that the only topic Beto O’Rourke follows is “Stephen Colbert.”
Or, for a different kind of sad, that Ted Cruz absolutely has to know the latest buzz on Elon Musk and Joe Rogan (which, of course he does).
Also of note is just how few people seem to use the Topics feature. Time after time, when checking a particular Twitter user’s Topics page, we simply got the message that they weren’t following any.
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Which, yeah, we feel you.
However, for people like Sean Spicer who choose to make use of Twitter’s Topics feature, it serves as a quick algorithmic peek into their soul. Maybe one day we’ll see something interesting.