Twitter to Switch to an Algorithmic Timeline, Like Facebook

February 6, 2016 - Written By Alexander Maxham

Twitter has become a pretty popular place for finding out what’s happening instantly. Take for example the Paris attacks last year. Anyone on Twitter heard about the attacks long before the traditional news outlets were talking about it – at least outside of France. Another good example is a game or awards show. You don’t even need to watch the game, just watch Twitter and you’ll know exactly what’s going on, as the timeline is in chronological order. That’s one of the great things about the service. It brings you up-to-date information as it happens, unlike Facebook. However that is about to change.

Lately, Twitter has been unveiling new features in an effort to help users use the service a bit more, as well as entice new users to the service. Twitter is quite large, but still small in comparison to other services, namely Facebook. Now, according to a report out of BuzzFeed, the company may be unveiling an algorithmic timeline as soon as next week. What’s the big deal here? Well an algorithmic news feed or timeline uses algorithms to depict what the user wants to see. Facebook has been doing this for quite some time with their news feed. With an algorithmic news feed, it means that tweets won’t be in chronological order anymore. And you may be seeing tweets from the last few days at the top of your news feed.

Since inception, Twitter has been using the reverse chronological order for their timeline (meaning the newest stuff is at the top and older is at the bottom), so switching over to an algorithmic timeline would be a pretty big deal for the company. Since this report from BuzzFeed surfaced last night, many users are not too happy about it, and have started using the hashtag #RIPTwitter. Now this isn’t the first decision by Twitter that has turned its users against it. A few years ago, Twitter essentially handicapped developers and their apps by shortening the number of tokens and requests that third-party apps made. The company survived that, so this shouldn’t be much worse for them.

It’s important to note that Twitter has not yet officially announced that they are going to this new algorithmic news feed, so it may happen, it may not. For now, we’ll be treating this as a rumor, and with a grain of salt. We urge everyone to do the same.