If you’ve been praying to the internet gods for salvation in the form of your old Twitter timeline, free from “in case you missed it” sections and strangers’ tweets that your friends liked, your prayers have been answered. Announced yesterday, Twitter has begun rolling out a new change that can show you how to make tweets chronological. Suddenly this Twitter hellscape of our own making just became a little bit more bearable.
The “hack” is pretty straightforward. According to a tweet from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, you’ll be able to turn off “timeline ranking” by going into your settings. Simply click on your Twitter avatar, go to “Settings and Privacy,” then scroll down to the “Content” section. Next to the “Timeline” header, you should see a box next to “Show the best Tweets first.” Just uncheck that box and you’re free, my little Twitter birdie.
Once you do that, your timeline will just be tweets from the people you follow in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent tweets. No more blocks of “in case you missed it” tweets from 19 hours ago. No more tweets your friends liked popping up in your feed. Just the sweet, sweet endless scroll of tweets from the accounts you’ve chosen follow. It’s as close to Twitter bliss as there is.
Unfortunately, the update won’t affect promoted tweets. So, you’ll still see sponsored posts interspersed with all the meme accounts you follow. Again, Twitter can only be so blissful.
You’re likely more than familiar with “timeline ranking” even if you don’t know it by name. It’s part of Twitter’s algorithm to show you tweets they think you’ll care about. Similar to the way YouTube recommends videos or Facebook posts show up in your newsfeed, Twitter’s timeline ranking prioritizing tweets they think you’ll engage with based on the way you’ve previously engaged with content.
Of course, that can also make your timeline more polarizing (only showing the stuff you love or the stuff you engage with our of fiery rage) or add to the social media bubbles we admittedly all live in.
Per Twitter’s Help page, the algorithm also includes viral tweets in the spirit of trying to show you content you might like/engage with:
“Additionally, when we identify a Tweet, an account to follow, or other content that's popular or relevant, we may add it to your timeline. This means you will sometimes see Tweets from accounts you don't follow. We select each Tweet using a variety of signals, including how popular it is and how people in your network are interacting with it. Our goal is to show you content on your Home timeline that you’re most interested in and contributes to the conversation in a meaningful way, such as content that is relevant, credible, and safe.”
Opting out of Twitter’s “show the best tweets first” feature will turn your timeline back into...well, your timeline. You’ll only see tweets from the accounts you follow (how quaint!). Plus, you’ll see that content in chronological order. So, rather than furiously Googling or, god forbid, clicking on a trending hashtag, you’ll be able to have chronological context for the things people are tweeting about on your timeline.
While the Twitter algorithm may be intended to make your Twitter experience easier or more tailored to you, it requires Twitter to determine what “the best tweets” are. Understandably, your definition of “best” likely varies from Twitter’s. Thankfully, Twitter’s update allows you to opt out of the feature, bringing back the timeline you wanted in the first place. Finally, it can be full of the puppy gifs and memes of memes of memes you want and deserve.