Twitter Debuts Their New Algorithmic Timeline
As much as we hoped they wouldn’t, Twitter has rolled out their new algorithm-based timeline.
Last week, Buzzfeed first reported that Twitter was getting ready to launch a curated timeline feature, which sent users into a tizzy over what they thought would be the demise of Twitter as they knew it. Much of the app’s appeal is in seeing tweets as they happen, rather than having “relevant” tweets forced upon you by an algorithm.
Facebook, is that you?
On Wednesday, Twitter pushed out the update to replace the usual chronological stream of tweets with a feed of tweets most relevant to you, generated by an algorithm in the same way that Facebook pushes stories to you in your News Feed. And just like when Facebook rolled this feature out, the user base had some choice words.
— trutherbotred (@trutherbotred) February 10, 2016
@McKelvie but what if it automatically hid terrible puns?
— sirshannon (@sirsha) February 8, 2016
Why You Always Lyin’
When it was first announced last Friday, CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted in response to #RIPTwitter, saying that he understood the concerns of users and assured them that nothing would be released in the following week. For those wondering, yes, Twitter did reorder the timelines that same week.
Twitter is live. Twitter is real-time. Twitter is about who & what you follow. And Twitter is here to stay! By becoming more Twitter-y.
— Jack (@jack) February 6, 2016
Let’s take a look into how your new timeline will look. First of all, you’ll have to pay close attention to see that anything has been reordered. For the most part, the algorithm-generated timeline looks a lot like the chronological timeline of old. When the feature was still in beta, test group users reported that the changes weren’t radical. Instead, you might see a couple of tweets from eight or nine hours ago before you see the most recent tweets. As far as we can tell, the pitchforks and torches came out a little prematurely this time, but the Internet crusaders love to make a scene so who am I to say otherwise.
You Can Opt Out
Perhaps this is the most important part of the timeline debacle– you can opt out of the new timeline. Head into the app settings and you’ll find the toggle for turning the new timeline on and off. Additionally, you can pull down to refresh your feed and you’ll get the old reverse-chronological order back.
Once the dust settles, we’ll see how users react after getting to use the new timeline. If it really does show you the tweets that you’re interested in, we might have a whole new, and much better, Twitter on our hands. By the same token, if we start seeing content that has no relevance, maybe Twitter’s existence could be as questionable as users talked it up to be.