Twitter's Algorithmic Timeline Rolled Out For Everyone This Week, But You May Not Even Notice The Difference
As a rule, any significant update to social media is accompanied by wailing, gnashing of teeth, and declarations of jumping ship. However, by some happy chance — or a truly astonishing amount of planning on behalf of the PR department — Twitter's new algorithmic timeline has managed to avoid such commotion. The feature, which quietly rolled out for all users this week, brings about a major change: non-chronological timelines ranking tweets by relevance.
Until this year, the social media giant was one of the few platforms to use a reverse-chronological timeline. Tweets appeared on users' feeds in the order that they were posted, as opposed to rankings by popularity or importance, and as a result, Kanye West's tweets could appear below your co-worker's brief political rant, which in turn could be pushed down by President Obama's latest dad joke. All tweets started out on the same playing field, so to speak, and many users felt this gave the platform a sense of egalitarianism.
However, Twitter announced in February that these days were numbered. Last month, users were given the option to opt-in to a new feature allowing them to see more relevant tweets first. This was where the wailing and gnashing of teeth came in — many users didn't take the news well, decrying the algorithm as the end of Twitter (and possibly the world). The hashtag #RIPTwitter even trended for some time.
The reaction was so negative that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey took the time to address concerns, assuring users that they could choose to stick with the reverse-chronological timeline.
However, the company later noted that the algorithmic timeline would soon become default for everyone, and they made good on their promise this week: Users who prefer the old feed now have to opt-out of the new feature. "Tweets you are likely to care about most will show up first in your timeline," Twitter explains on its support page. "We choose them based on accounts you interact with most, Tweets you engage with, and much more."
Despite the outcry surrounding its initial launch, the change has largely been met with a collective shrug so far. Some users have complained, of course, but many barely appear to have noticed. As the Next Web points out, algorithmic timelines are essentially an extension of the "while you were away" feature.
If you're not a fan of the algorithmic timeline, it's easy enough to turn off: Go to Settings and uncheck the box next to "Show me the best tweets first." Of course, if you're fine with the new settings, it's even easier — just sit back and let the Anna Kendrick tweets and pictures of kittens get pushed to the top of your feed, while all the panic tweets get pushed down. It's a win-win for everyone.