Twitter's New Algorithm May Rank Tweets By Relevance, So Prepare To Say Goodbye To The Egalitarian Days
Big changes are coming to everyone's favorite 140-character social media giant. According to BuzzFeed News, a new Twitter algorithm could be on its way, and it threatens the very fabric of time and space. OK, perhaps that's a slight exaggeration — but judging from the way users have handled the news so far, doomsday predictions may not be far off.
On Feb. 5, BuzzFeed reported that Twitter plans to introduce a new algorithm that ranks tweets by importance to the user, rather than the simple reverse chronological order the site has used since its inception. Much like Facebook's current set-up, such an algorithm would display tweets based on what calculations determine to be "most relevant" to the user. In its current form, Twitter feeds have a sense of egalitarianism to them; the reverse chronological format allows tweets from the New York Times to appear below Anna Kendrick's musings on grocery shopping, and both of those could be pushed down by your old roommate's cringeworthy dad joke. As a result, many users depend on Twitter for the latest news, as opposed to the most popular. If Twitter were to ranks tweets by importance, however, more timely content could be pushed aside in favor of the most popular subjects.
Needless to say, many users didn't take to the idea — and lo, the #RIPTwitter hashtag was born, allowing users to air their grievances loudly and emphatically.
The topic trended for a some time after the news broke, and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey addressed the concerns on Saturday afternoon. He explained that the company didn't intend to introduce the new timeline next week — although he didn't say they wouldn't introduce it at a later time — and assured users that he understood the importance of Twitter's real-time feel.
NBC's Director of Branded Content, Josh Sternberg, tweeted that the algorithm-based timeline would be opt-in, so users could continue using the reverse chronological format if they wanted.
This isn't the only change Twitter has been contemplating lately. Last month, there was discussion of expanding the 140-character limit, although concrete changes have yet to occur. It remains to be seen whether we'll see a difference in our timelines soon — but there's no doubt that Twitter users will make their displeasure known as soon as it does.
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