Twitter launched what it is calling an “improved timeline”. Objectively speaking, it’s an algorithm-based timeline which will use data based on a user’s previous Twitter activity to determine what to show them at the top of their timeline.
Twitter is calling it an improvement due to the fact it will surface “important” tweets at the top of the timeline from people you follow. Twitter will analyze how users engage with Tweets to determine what may be the best content to display at the top of the timeline. Directly below the the section of curated tweets will live the traditional reverse-chronological timeline we’re all familiar with.
The mere mention of a non-chronological timeline led to an immediate #RIPTwitter campaign over the weekend, with outraged users who want Twitter to stay exactly the way it is. This is where it’s important to note the setting can be turned on and off at will from the settings menu. In addition, the feature may not end up being as intrusive as it sounds. Twitter says the curated tweets at the top of the timeline will be recent and displaced in reverse-chronological order.
Users who log in and use the service each day are no doubt an important audience to keep happy, but Twitter’s priority right now is attracting new users. Becoming more Facebook-like has the potential to attract new users, especially those who sign up and are confused with how to use the service at first.
Twitter has demonstrated time and again it’s willing to strip itself of its most identifiable features in an effort to attract new users. The most obvious example is the company’s plan to remove the 140 character limit.
It’s too early to tell if these gambles will pay off for the company. So far Twitter has succeeded at nothing but earning itself a torrent of negative press from veteran users upset with the changes. Ultimately the only thing that matters is whether or not Twitter can attract new users and get them to sign up and log in each day.