Twitter has announced it’s adding a new option that allows users to switch to viewing Tweets in a reverse chronological Timeline.
Of all the very useful features that Twitter could have launched, the ability to switch to a reverse chronological Timeline seemed like the one less likely to appear. And although Twitter isn’t really making a big deal about it, it’s actually quite an important feature, for two reasons:
- It puts power back into the hands of its users (is this a bad thing?)
- It goes against the general trend – pioneered by Facebook – that algorithms should choose what’s more relevant for us to see.
The announcement was made in a thread on Twitter Support, with Twitter starting with the cryptic, “we’re working on new ways to give you more control over your timeline”, before going on to explain a little bit more about how it chooses the best Tweets for its users.
3/ Our goal with the timeline is to balance showing you the most recent Tweets with the best Tweets you’re likely to care about, but we don’t always get this balance right.
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) September 17, 2018
Twitter says it has “learned that when showing the best Tweets first, people find Twitter more relevant and useful. However, it has “also heard feedback from people who, at times, prefer to see the most recent Tweets.”
It admits that in its goal “to balance showing [users] the most recent Tweets with the best Tweets” people are “likely to care about,” it doesn’t do a great job all the time. So, it’s now working on an easily accessible way to switch between “relevant” and “latest.”
The test will start in the next few weeks, but in the meantime the “Show the best Tweets first” setting has been updated so that when it’s off users can only see Tweets from people they follow in reverse chronological order.
Previously, when the setting was turned off, users could also see “In case you missed it” and recommended Tweets from people they don’t follow. The plan is to replace this setting when Twitter can figure out the right way to switch between the two.
Sounds interesting, right? Yes, from a user perspective this is very interesting. However, what might it do to Twitter as a platform? Well, the algorithm boosted engagement for Twitter, so is it possible that the switch might cause engagement to decrease? It might.
It also might encourage people to clear up their Timelines though. And that seems like a general trend Twitter wants to continue.
What do you think about this change?