If there’s one thing that makes users like Twitter more than Facebook is its chronological news feed. In a recent turn of events, the company seems to change its mind about that.
At the Citi Global Technology Conference yesterday in New York, Anthony Noto, CTO to Twitter, claims that the reverse-chronological flow of tweets is not the “most relevant experience” for users.
If you’re a Twitter user who follows active groups of Twitter accounts, you will get a clearer picture of what he’s telling us. When you get out of Twitter for a couple of hours and come back to check the microblogging site, you will be greeted with a series of tweets that sometimes make it impossible for you, as a reader, to keep up. Some people will have to scroll all the way down just to catch up while others simply ignore older tweets every time they return to their timelines.
The company’s concern, as Noto voiced out, is that since relevant tweets get buried at the bottom of the feed, the reverse-chronological system doesn’t serve its users the way they want it to. This makes old Twitter users fear that the company is slowly adapting Facebook’s filtered timeline.
Noto might not have confirmed this but he did observe that one way to organize content better is to put that content in the person’s way at the time he opens his timeline.
When Facebook started implementing algorithm behind its News Feed, Twitter users appreciated more how their timelines showed exactly what they expected of it when they follow an account. While Retweets show content from other accounts, users have wholly accepted this the moment they clicked the follow button, but they can also choose to disable the retweets by specific people.
Until before the conference, Twitter users had not anticipated any changes in their timelines because the company has not given them a reason to think otherwise.
While none of us can know for sure what Noto implied during the conference, it’s better to understand what he did and didn’t say. He mentioned the problem of important tweets disappearing in the timeline as older tweets get buried in the feed. There was no specific mention that the company will start filtering the tweets. Nato did say, however, that if Twitter deems the tweets important, Twitter might resurface those tweets from the accounts which the user has already been following.
If Twitter only resurfaces buried tweets from accounts that a user follows then everyone can relax because it is not meant to change what that user is seeing. For one, the tweet they’ll be seeing is from someone who they have already chosen to follow. Number two, they would have seen the tweet anyway if they have not checked out of Twitter or left their timeline while they were at work, at school, sleeping, or when they’re engaged somewhere else.
Nato seemed to understand that people might feel outrage with this news. After his statement, he added that Twitter users will not wake up one day and just find their timeline “ranked by an algorithm.”