Twitter announced an update Wednesday morning that could signal the eventual death of the reverse-chronological timeline.
Now, users can choose to have an experience that surfaces “the best Tweets” that they’ve missed, regardless of time, atop timeline. Twitter has been testing a non-chronological timeline, with mixed reviews from users. This is the official rollout for iOS, Android and Web.
Though some users have found the non-chronological timeline a bit confusing, Twitter senior engineering manager Mike Jahr said that it had led to higher amounts of retweets and engagement:
We’ve already seen that people who use this new feature tend to Retweet and Tweet more, creating more live commentary and conversations, which is great for everyone. To check it out now, just go into the timeline section of your settings and choose ‘Show me the best Tweets first‘. We’ll be listening to your feedback and making it even better over time. Then we’ll be turning on the feature for you in coming weeks — look out for a notification in your timeline. We love it and think you will too. If you don’t, send your thoughts our way, and you can easily turn it off in settings.
We think this is a great way to get even more out of Twitter and we’re excited for you to experience it.
A help center entry by Twitter suggests that the default setting of “Show me the best Tweets first” is on:
Note: Not all users seem to have this feature right now.
It’s interesting that Twitter wants to change the precise thing that makes it so different from Facebook: the reverse-chronological timeline. Twitter experts have said that the firehose of Tweets can be a bit overwhelming for new and novice users: the kinds of people Twitter is trying so hard to court. Many Facebook users detest the News Feed algorithm and badly want what Twitter has had from the start: a pure, unfiltered stream.
Instead of a neat timeline, users who don’t opt out of this will see tweets ranked in terms of importance or interest. With the non-chronological timeline test Twitter ran in December, re-tweets often appeared before the original tweet.
Readers: What do you think of this update?