Ever since Twitter first launched, tweets have been organized in reverse chronological order. That’s one of the more straightforward aspects of a service that’s become too complicated through the years. But now, Twitter is preparing to drastically change how users experience the timeline — and according to BuzzFeed News, it’s happening very soon. As early as next week, Twitter is planning to replace the reverse chronological stream with one that’s powered algorithmically, surfacing tweets that are most relevant or timely, not just those that are most recent.
Late last year, the company tested this non-chronological approach with some users, though the idea didn’t seem to sit well with Twitter’s most loyal advocates. But it shouldn’t come as a surprise to them; executives have been talking about this change for a long time now. In 2014, CFO Anthony Noto said displaying tweets in reverse chronological order “isn’t the most relevant experience for a user.” And in reference to last year’s tests, a spokesperson said, “We’re continuing to explore ways to surface the best content for people using Twitter.”
WHAT’S RELEVANT INSTEAD OF WHAT’S RECENT
CEO Jack Dorsey is determined to make Twitter more user friendly and intuitive for people just starting out with the service. Since a lot of them are probably also using Facebook, they’re already accustomed to seeing friends’ posts out of order. If Twitter can nail the execution (that’s a massive if), this could in many ways make the product more valuable for more people. How exactly Twitter plans to make this switch isn’t yet known; Josh Sternberg, director of branded content for NBC News, says the algorithm-based timeline will likely be opt in as opposed to suddenly becoming the new default. Indeed, the company would be wise to follow Facebook’s “Most Recent” lead and let people use the service as they see fit.