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Twitter rolling out ‘while you were away’ timeline feature

After a year of slowing user growth and shaky investor confidence, Twitter executives are well aware that a solid performance over the next 12 months is crucial to the company’s long-term success.

Ever since the microblogging service landed in 2006, Twitter developers have been tinkering with the site, rolling out various features and tools in a bid to retain existing users and attract new ones. While some of these features end up fully incorporated into the service, others, rejected by its user base or unable to achieve their planned goal, have fallen by the wayside.

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The latest change to Twitter is designed to help users discover important or relevant tweets that they might’ve missed while away from the site. First discussed a couple of months back, the ‘while you were away’ feature, which is now being rolled out to all users, places ‘interesting’ tweets at the top of a user’s timeline.

The company will be closely watching reactions to the new feature, especially as it marks the first time the service has interfered with its usual method of placing tweets from followed accounts in chronological order.

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Twitter said that with 500 million tweets published every day, and with some people following hundreds – or thousands – of other users, relevant posts can easily slip by in the rapid and constant flow of messages and never be viewed.

“That’s why we’re exploring ways to surface relevant tweets so the content that is interesting to you is easy to discover – whether you stay on Twitter all day or visit for a few minutes – while still preserving the real-time nature of the platform that makes Twitter special,” the company explained.

Whether the feature is a hit with users depends on the effectiveness of Twitter’s surfacing algorithm, and whether users mind having their timeline meddled with in this fashion. How do you like the idea of Twitter choosing the tweets at the top of your timeline? Sound off in the comments below.

[Via Guardian]