Twitter is experimenting with a new format that’s causing the tweets on some people’s timelines to no longer appear in reverse chronological order.
We first spotted the change to Twitter’s fundamental feature via Motherboard, but people have been tweeting about it for several days.
Several users experiencing the change agreed that the new format would ruin one of the social network’s most valuable elements: the ability to follow real-time events, like breaking news, political speeches, or sports games.
Twitter’s mission statement is to “give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.”
Putting tweets out of order arguably undercuts that mission, and people are reacting:
all the tweets on my timeline are out of time order and it’s stressing me out!!!!
— taryn (@tdoobiel) December 8, 2015
imagine your twitter timeline being out of order during the super bowl or whatever. just a totally broken idea
— mike schneider (@MikeASchneider) December 8, 2015
Here’s a concrete example of how the system could be confusing (in reference to Vicky Pattison from the reality show “I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!”:
Tweets are all out of order on my timeline :P funny seeing people tweeting about Vicky winning and then some saying they hope she wins
— Llinos Webb (@cheekymonkey13) December 6, 2015
A Twitter spokesperson confirmed the test to Business Insider: “This is an experiment. We’re continuing to explore ways to surface the best content for people using Twitter.”
Whether you agree with the new format or not, the test isn’t surprising.
One of Twitter’s goals has been to make its service more approachable for new users, who might not check it with the kind of constantancy and consistency as its power users. To help those people, Twitter already rolled out “Moments,” which curates the best tweets around specific topics, and “While you were away…” which serves up a selection of popular tweets from people that a user follows when they first sign on. A relevancy-ranked timeline could make it easier to find the most interesting information fast (or at least what Twitter thinks you’ll find most interesting).
On Twitter’s Q2 earnings call, CEO Jack Dorsey said that the company would “continue to question our reverse chronological timeline.” He continued: “We continue to show a questioning of our fundamentals in order to make the product easier and more accessible to more people.”
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