Twitter’s new home timeline has been the subject of fierce discussion, both on and off the network. Now that it’s officially arrived, we can all find out what the fuss is about.
Twitter announced the new feature today, just in time for its latest earnings call. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, seeing as the platform is feeling the pressure to grow beyond its current user base, and it evidently believes that new features – such as an algorithmic timeline – will help it achieve that goal.
For now, however, the update is not automatically activated. If you want to try out the new timeline you have to opt-in. It’s a stark contrast from the backlash we saw last week that decried the end of the platform, claiming the new algorithm would destroy everything about it that users hold dear.
Starting today you can choose to try our new feature, so you'll never miss important Tweets from people you follow: https://t.co/fS1axkDiUh
— Twitter (@twitter) February 10, 2016
Before outlining the timeline activation process for desktop and mobile versions of the service, here’s a quick update of what the changes entail, so you can decide whether they’re worth your time.
Selected users first began reporting that they were seeing tweets appear out-of-order instead of in the original, reverse-chronological format, last year. As it turned out, that was the beginning of the test phase of the feature that has been rolled out today.
In the words of Twitter, the new timeline “helps you catch up on the best Tweets from people you follow.” It works by showing you the tweets its algorithm has decided you care most about at the top of your feed when you log in. These will be recent tweets (don’t worry, you won’t start seeing content from last year) and will also appear in reverse chronological order. Once you’re all caught up, you simply pull-up to refresh the timeline as usual, and the up-to-the-second live updates will appear. For regular users, it will be reminiscent of the ‘while you were away’ feature that acts as a recap tool when you log in after a while – that feature will remain active despite the introduction of the new timeline, reports Mashable.
Still interested? Here’s how you can activate Twitter’s algorithmic timeline for yourself.
- Log in to your account on twitter.com and go to your Account settings page.
- Under “Content,” look for ‘Timeline’ and toggle the box next to “Show me the best Tweets first” to change the setting.
Twitter for iOS:
- On your profile, tap the gear icon and select “Settings.”
- Tap the account whose settings you’d like to adjust.
- Under “Timeline,” tap ‘Timeline personalization.”
- Next to “Show me the best Tweets first,” tap to turn it on or off.
Twitter for Android:
- Tap the overflow icon (three vertical dots).
- Tap “Settings.”
- Tap ‘Timeline”
- Next to “Show me the best Tweets first,” check or uncheck the box to turn it on or off.
In a separate announcement, Twitter also outlined the benefits of the new timeline for brands and advertisers. It seems that much like Facebook, Twitter will also be using its algorithm to provide targeted content from brands.
“We’ve improved the timeline by analyzing how millions of people engage with billions of tweets – and we’re using this information to determine the best content to surface,” Twitter says. “With this update, whether it comes from an [small business], large brand, consumer, or athlete you follow, the best content shines through.”
Social networks such as Twitter are constantly testing new features. The ones that can successfully engage more users tend to then get a full roll-out. Despite the objections, Twitter claims the new timeline was a success in its test phase. “We’ve already seen that people who use this new feature tend to retweet and tweet more, creating more live commentary and conversations, which is great for everyone.”
What do you think of the new Twitter timeline? Will you be using it? Let us know via the Twitter poll, below.
Twitter's new timeline will show a bunch of “best” tweets at the top each time you opens the app. Thoughts?
— Jeremy Kaplan (@SmashDawg) February 10, 2016