Are you a loyal Twitter user? Brace yourself, because your favorite social media platform might get turned on its head: Twitter is experimenting with a new way of sorting your timeline that breaks with the reverse-chronological format it has used since its inception.
Certain users have already been selected for testing, and a Twitter search for “timeline out of order” revealed a lot of confused Tweeters.
Image: Rachel Pick
Here's a screenshot displaying the new nonsensical timeline format.
I reached out to Twitter, and a spokesperson confirmed via email that this is “an experiment. We're continuing to explore ways to surface the best content for people using Twitter.” Presumably, Twitter is working with algorithms similar to the ones Facebook uses to order items on your News Feed.
Since the appointment of new CEO Jack Dorsey, Twitter has made several less than popular changes, implementing “Moments” and changing the “Favorite” button to a “Like” button. Users were upset that the platform seemed to be altering itself to become more and more like Facebook.
But an icon changing from a star to a heart is nothing to complain about compared to Twitter being ordered by anything other than time. The reverse-chronology of Twitter makes it a favorite of journalists, media types, and anyone who likes to stay informed, as it keeps breaking news on top. That useful quality would be kaput, as would the fun moments where your whole timeline is cracking jokes and providing insight on a political debate as it’s being aired, or throwing shade at the Oscars, or jumping up and down over the performance of Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis.
As the spokesperson told me, this is an “experiment,” so maybe Twitter won’t go forward with it, or make it an optional feature you can toggle on or off. But total implementation would cut at the heart of what makes Twitter so enjoyable—the relevance, the ephemerality, and the dialogue.