Twitter rolled out a new timeline system on Wednesday, a controversial move that will post so-called “best tweets” at the top of a user’s Twitter feed instead of the reverse chronological order users are used to. The “best tweets” will be determined by a proprietary algorithm, one that is likely to heavily favor advertisers, MSN is reporting.
The new timeline is aimed at new and/or infrequent Twitter users who may be overwhelmed by the number of tweets that show up on their news feed. The new timeline aims to keep these users interested in the microblogging service while addressing the frustration they may feel at having to sort through hundreds of tweets that may not be meaningful to them.
— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) February 10, 2016
Essentially, the new Twitter timeline works like this: When you log in after having been away from Twitter, you’ll see a selection of tweets that Twitter’s algorithm deemed most important. Just how that algorithm will work is, of course, not going to be revealed. But it will favor tweets from people you interact with the most, as well as celebrities or athletes that you follow, and, of course, brand names that you follow.
— Doritos (@Doritos) February 8, 2016
After you’ve seen the “best tweets,” you simply refresh your screen as you normally would, and you will once again see new tweets as they come, in reverse chronological order.
Late last year, according to Digital Trends, some Twitter users reported seeing tweets in their Twitter news feeds out of the reverse chronological order they were used to. It turns out that those users were test subjects for the new timeline that would be tested, talked about, and rolled out on Wednesday.
Twitter’s Product Marketing Manager Eric Farkas explained the reasoning behind the new timeline in a blog post.
“We want to make it even easier and faster for people to discover and catch up on what’s happening right now. Today, we’re launching an improved timeline to help people see Tweets that are important to them — from their favorite athletes, musicians, politicians, or brands. Upon opening Twitter, the Tweets they’re most likely to care about from the accounts they follow will appear at the top of the timeline. The rest of the Tweets will then be displayed directly underneath in reverse chronological order, like always… With this update, whether it comes from [a small business], large brand, consumer, or athlete you follow, the best content shines through.”
As news of the new timeline began to make its way into the mainstream, long-time Twitter users expressed outrage at the plan, comparing it to Facebook’s similarly unpopular timeline feature that rejects showing posts in chronological order in favor of posts that its algorithms considered most important to users. Some users even predicted the eventual death of the microblogging service, mourning the proposed changes with the hashtag #RIPTwitter.
In fact, reports of the death of Twitter thanks to the new timeline are premature and greatly exaggerated. As of this writing, it’s strictly opt-in, meaning that Twitter users will have to go through a specific series of steps in order to experience the new timeline. Those who don’t deliberately make the switch will continue to see their Twitter feed in the same order they’re used to.
To see step-by-step instructions on how to enable the new Twitter timeline on various platforms, click here.
What are your thoughts on the new Twitter timeline?
[Image via Shutterstock/Yeamake]