Twitter planning to launch algorithmic timeline soon

BY Gautam Prabhu

Published 7 Feb 2016

Twitter - Algorithmic timeline

BuzzFeed reports that Twitter is planning to introduce Facebook style algorithmic timeline. The report claimed Twitter could launch it as early as next week. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has clarified that the company doesn’t have any plans to launch it next week, but didn’t deny an algorithmic feed.

BuzzFeed reports:

The timeline will reorder tweets based on what Twitter’s algorithm thinks people most want to see, a departure from the current feed’s reverse chronological order.

It is unclear whether Twitter will force users to use the algorithmic feed, or it will merely be an option.

Twitter seems to be testing the feature with some users. The Verge has managed to get screenshots of the feature (as seen above). They explain:

You have to look close to see that the tweets are out of order: in this case, a few tweets from nine or ten hours ago show up before one that was posted two hours ago. But screenshots like these have been floating around for a few months now. What’s really important is how the new timeline works in practice.

The algorithm that will re-order your timeline is based on the one that ranks tweets for the “while you were away” feature that Twitter introduced a year ago. The best way to think of the new timeline is as an expanded version of this feature. Spend an entire day away from Twitter, and when you open the app again, you’ll see highlights from the day. If you open it up a few times a day, you’ll see a handful of “while you were away”-style sections breaking up the chronological tweets. And whenever you pull down to refresh your stream, it’s back to the regular, reverse-chronological timeline.

There has been a major backlash with some high-profile Twitter users threatening to abandon the service. Dorsey has tried to address the controversy with a series of tweets:

Twitter users are concerned that the algorithmic timeline will make it difficult to follow events, which is one of the core features of Twitter. But at the same time, Twitter is struggling to grow as many people find it more difficult to learn and use than other social networks. I love Twitter, the ability to follow events and connect with people who are generally inaccessible are some of the most valuable aspects of the service. But there is way too much noise on Twitter, which is the reason I started using lists.

Twitter Moments and algorithmic timeline seem to be an attempt to address these issues. Unfortunately, Twitter needs to find a way to do this in such a way that it’s both inviting for new users and still attractive to Twitter addicts. Based on the controversy the algorithmic timeline rumor has generated, it looks like it is going to be very difficult to please everyone.

What do you think about the possibility of the Facebook-style algorithmic Twitter timeline? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.