Twitter Is Testing Timelines That Are Not Reverse Chronological
Continuing its efforts to attract new users, Twitter is experimenting with juggling timelines. Many power users are not pleased.
Twitter confirmed today that it is testing a new way to sort user timelines, breaking from the reverse chronological format that has been Twitter’s foundation since its beginnings. The experiment was spotted first by Motherboard. “We’re continuing to explore ways to surface the best content for people using Twitter,” a Twitter spokesperson wrote in an email.
It’s not clear how Twitter is juggling people’s timelines or how many people are seeing the test, because Twitter isn’t providing more details, but it seems likely that it’s taking a page from Facebook and using an engagement algorithm to serve tweets that it determines people might be interested in.
As you would expect, people on Twitter have noticed the test, and many aren’t happy about it:
The move shouldn’t come as a surprise. Twitter has been struggling to gain more users, and the company’s executives have shown that they aren’t afraid of upsetting Twitter power users by experimenting with or altering the service’s foundations. Case in point: last month, Twitter dumped Favorites for Likes, causing uproar in some quarters.
This change, however, would be more fundamental, striking at the heart of one of the things that makes Twitter different from Facebook — the ability for people to see the very latest updates from people, organizations and businesses they follow. So if it is rolled out widely, you can expect even more outrage.
Twitter appears ready to absorb criticism. During an earnings call in July, CEO Jack Dorsey said that the company would be questioning the reverse chronological nature of the timeline. “We continue to show a questioning of our fundamentals in order to make the product easier and more compelling to more people,” he said. “Our goal is to show more meaningful tweets and conversations faster.”