The past few days, there was a lot of discussion happened on Twitter. It was regarding one thing: Twitter is going to change the reverse chronological timeline to an algorithmic one. There were some heated discussions, and hashtag #RIPTwitter actually made it to one of the trending topics.
It was clear to see that most Twitter users disagree with the idea of the timeline change.
One of the most popular opinions was: Twitter is changing to be like Facebook, and Twitter users don’t like Facebook. (It’s true that Facebook has indeed applied the algorithmic timeline for a while now on their News Feed.)
I, on the other hand, am actually more on the curious side on the whole matter. I have been using Twitter since 2009, and I am the kind of person who care more about what she tweets than what she sees on her timeline. Although lately, I have started to complain a lot about the content I see on my timeline.
So, instead of jumping into discussions where I was quite sure I’d get cornered while I’m just being curious, I look for articles that talk about this matter. I look for the ones who cover more on the explanation of the change rather than about what people think about it.
Then, I found this article from The Verge. I will write the conclusion I made after reading that article, but I suggest you to read the article carefully yourself.
According to that article, the algorithmic timeline Twitter is going to roll out is the expanded version of “While you were away…” feature. The feature that has been around for a year or so. User will be able to get the old-style reverse chronological timeline by refreshing the page.
This feature has also been tested on some users, with two of them (at least the ones who talked to The Verge) shared that it’s a little bit weird to see Twitter timeline becoming algorithmic instead of the usual reverse chronological. We can easily lose context (in case of live tweeting) and if there’s conversations, we can’t follow them as easily.
These opinions, for me, don’t make it seem like the change is scary or even irritable. We can easily open a user’s profile to see in a reverse chronological order on what they are currently tweeting about. Also, if the user is smartly using Twitter’s reply button on producing the live tweet, it can easily be followed because Twitter has this feature that let user see replies of a tweet. This can be the answer for the inability to follow conversations as well! See? It’s actually pretty neat!
Another article that I found was this one written on Wired. It basically talked about the same thing. That the algorithmic timeline wasn’t something to be scared of (or despised) because it had actually been around for a year and people didn’t seem to complain a lot. It can even be opted out if a user feel that they don’t want the feature at all.
Don’t it just make you start to think that all the arguments and opinions people throwing on Twitter are for nothing?
Although, because of the amount of negative comments that showed up rapidly, Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, decided that he had to have a say on the matter to calm people down in his brief series of tweets.
Look at “while you were away” at the top of your TL. Tweets you missed from people you follow. Pull to refresh to go back to real-time.
— Jack (@jack) February 6, 2016
I *love* real-time. We love the live stream. It’s us. And we’re going to continue to refine it to make Twitter feel more, not less, live!
— Jack (@jack) February 6, 2016
So, I think my curiosity paid off. As I expected before, Twitter’s decision to roll out an algorithmic timeline wasn’t really something that would ruin anyone’s user experience on Twitter. That is, if we’re willing to change and adapt to it.
Because, let’s be realistic. Twitter is a company, and they have to make money to keep their business going. Being a Twitter user for years just mean that we have to adapt to whatever change they throw at their users. Or at least that is what I’m going to do. I have been using Twitter since 2009, I have three personal Twitter accounts for different purposes, and I am not going to stop using Twitter anytime soon. Simply because I can’t find what Twitter offers anywhere else.
P.S. I took some snippets from the Wired article. I thought I can somehow incorporate them on my essay, but I failed, clearly. Because writing is hard. But here you go.
P.P.S. I am aware that Jack Dorsey’s tweets I embedded above also got some negative comments from people. Basically, complaining about how “While you were away…” feature doesn’t do quite well. In short, the algorithm is still not as powerful as a user would expect from Twitter. Oh well, give the company a break, will you? Creating algorithm on users’ interest combined with other factor such as when the user usually goes online and such isn’t as easy as making your dinner (not that I’m saying that your dinner is easy to make, hey, I might not be able to cook it either! But you get the point). It will get better, I believe, because the developers on Twitter aren’t simply Twitter developers for nothing.