With an update from the social platform on Wednesday, the long rumored Twitter algorithms are here and with them will come a lot of criticism. Timelines are getting a complete revamp, and will now be shown to users based on relevancy than in reverse chronological order. Before you delete the app and sell all of your Twitter stock, please note that the new timeline currently is optional*.
Much like Facebook, Twitter users will see tweets from their most relevant follows, meaning a friend’s tweet from eight hours ago will appear over a tweet from a brand posted three minutes ago. If you are an active Twitter user, you have no doubt noticed the “while you were away” section that appeared more than a year ago. The new timeline is much like that, only on a grander scale. Additionally, the amount of tweets that appear in this section will be based on the amount of time spent away from the platform.
As an active Twitter user since 2008, I am personally torn over the change. In the early days I received quality information from people and brands of my choosing. Twitter is now a swift and unrelenting barrage of content, and I often miss a lot being away for only minutes. I believe the real-time conversational tone of Twitter is what makes it so great, especially during live events, but I also note the need to see tweets that might have really interested me. Still, the “while you were away” feature has confused me on multiple occasions, and I have replied to someone eighteen hours after they posted a tweet like I’m a bear waking up from hibernation.
Facebook has famously changed its News Feed multiple times over the past year, and I would imagine this is not the last change to Twitter we will see. This marks the largest change to Twitter’s model that we have seen thus far, though, and further changes will be based on how the users and stock prices react to it.