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Twitter pushes ahead with algorithmic timeline changes despite concerns among user base

Twitter_Office-030Social media platform Twitter has announced changes to the platform that extend its “while you were away feature” to introduce a more algorithmic timeline.

The move comes despite user angst about the change, which some see as moving it away from its continuous feed roots, with the hashtag #RIPTwitter trending around the word.

In a blog post the company said the changes were driven by a desire to allow users to catch up: “Starting today, you can choose a new timeline feature that helps you catch up on the most important Tweets from the people you follow.”

It is unclear whether the changes will also see some paid-for promoted tweets pushed to the top of people’s timelines at this stage.

However the social platform, which is looking to grow its Australian user base after stalling in recent times, noted users can easily revert back to a chronological timeline.

“When you first open Twitter, the Tweets you’re most likely to care about will appear at the top of your timeline – they are recent, and in reverse chronological order. Then the rest of the Tweets will be displayed right underneath, also in reverse chronological order, as always. At any point, just refresh to see all new Tweets in the live, up-to-the-second experience that you already know and love,” it said in the blog post.

Despite major concern among some hardcore users the move has been described by Wired as a extension of the existing “while you were away feature”.

“The next stage of the platform’s evolution simply expands on ‘While you were away…'”, the publication noted in an analysis of the mooted changes.

“(It is) a proportional amount to how long you’ve, well, been away. Twitter obsessives would retain something like the current ‘While you were away…’ functions, while those who check in on the service less frequently would get caught up on the last few days of activity with a couple hundred loosely ordered tweets that the algorithm thinks they might like.”

Last week Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey responded to the #RIPTwitter by tweeting: “We never planned to reorder timelines next week…. Look at “while you were away” at the top of your TL. Tweets you missed from people you follow. Pull to refresh to go back to real-time.”

Nic Christensen

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Twitter’s blog post:

You follow hundreds of people on Twitter — maybe thousands — and when you open Twitter, you may feel like you’ve missed their most important Tweets. We hear this from people every day. Starting today, you can choose a new timeline feature that helps you catch up on the most important Tweets from the people you follow.

When you first open Twitter, the Tweets you’re most likely to care about will appear at the top of your timeline – they are recent, and in reverse chronological order. Then the rest of the Tweets will be displayed right underneath, also in reverse chronological order, as always. At any point, just refresh to see all new Tweets in the live, up-to-the-second experience that you already know and love!

This option is available to everyone on Twitter for iOS, Android, and the web. To try it today, go into your settings and choose ‘Show me the best Tweets first’ within the timeline section. We’ve already noticed that people who have used this new feature tend to Retweet and Tweet more, which is good for everyone! Over the coming weeks, we’ll turn this feature on for you and send a notification in your timeline when we do. If you love it, great — we love it too! If you don’t, you can easily turn it off in settings.

We’d love your thoughts on how to keep making Twitter better, and will be listening and refining the experience over time.

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