BuzzFeed News has blown the whistle on Twitter’s optional timeline algorithm, which will push popular tweets – out of chronological order – to the top of timelines. Hang on, though… I think you missed an important word in that first sentence: optional. That’s right, the feature is completely optional.
The feature has been likened to an extended “While You Were Away” feature by The Verge, saying that the “disorienting” arrangement of tweets is not much different from the pop-up section that shows you the popular things you missed when your Twitter app was closed.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey responded the the backlash of the weekend saying that Twitter is not dying and moving away from their roots, they’re simply adding new features for users to enjoy.
So, if everyone is so upset with the disruption of their timeline with the new algorithm feature and opt out, what was the point in the time spent in developing the change at all?
In another effort to compete with social media giant, Facebook, the Twitter has rolled out various features within the past year – with more down the pipeline for the future – that steer away from its original appeal. With favorites becoming likes, prioritizing algorithms and a move away from limited characters, Twitter progresses toward a bite-sized version of Facebook.
For new users, the prioritizing feature may be able to get them accustomed to the reverse-timeline aspect of Twitter until they get proper footing. Once comfortable, users can opt out and enjoy the stream of live tweets without any disruption.
Bottom-line: Twitter is not changing, they’re just diversifying users’ ability to prioritize or filter through their timelines.
And now a word from Smirk New Media president Mike Koehler: “Has there been a worse possible idea in the history of social media? Yes, I’m sure there has been, but none spring to mind. Twitter is made to be not-Facebook and adding a timeline which abandons the streaminess of Twitter betrays what we use the platform for – discovering what our community is talking about in real-time. You might be able to opt-out of this disaster of an idea, but what it’s going to do is deteriorate the idea that I can share moments with the people in our digital neighborhood and that’s going to be a loss not just for Twitter but for everyone accustomed to using it that way.”