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Update: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has taken to the social network to say that it has no intention of ditching the current timelines for ones based on algorithms.
Hello Twitter! Regarding #RIPTwitter: I want you all to know we're always listening. We never planned to reorder timelines next week.
— Jack (@jack) February 6, 2016
Twitter can help make connections in real-time based on dynamic interests and topics, rather than a static social/friend graph. We get it.
— Jack (@jack) February 6, 2016
It remains unclear however why the small group of users testing the algorithmic timeline could not change back or provide feedback to Twitter.
Twitter could change one of its most fundamental features by as early as next week. The social media network, which is struggling to make profit and retain investor confidence, could ditch its chronological timeline by as early as next week.
The move, which was first reported on Buzzfeed, is widely believed to be aimed at fixing Twitter’s signal-to-noise problems.
Unlike the current timeline, which shows you everything everyone you follow tweeted within a given period of time, the new system will show you the tweets it thinks you most want to see.
Since returning to the Twitter helm in 2015, CEO Jack Dorsey hasn’t been afraid to make tweaks to the platform. The company is also exploring a 10 000 character limit for tweets, has replaced favourites with likes, and killed its share count facility on publisher sites.
While many of these changes have been met with fierce resistance by Twitter’s most dedicated users, Dorsey line throughout is that the company is simply trying to make the product more accessible to a wider audience.
“We continue to show a questioning of our fundamentals in order to make the product easier and more accessible to more people,” he said in July.
Twitter has actually been testing algorithmic timelines on a small group of users for a little while now and evidently believes that the tests have worked well enough to roll them out to a wider audience.
Judging by reaction to the news however, what Twitter believes is best is not actually in sync with what its users want. The hashtag #RIPTwitter was trending globally on Saturday morning, with many bemoaning the death of what they believe makes the platform great.
Among the most prominent arguments was that there were plenty of other changes Twitter could, and should, have instituted instead.
— ☽☼ⓚⓔⓔ☼☾ (@OMGkee) February 6, 2016
— Charles C Dowd (@CharlesDowd) February 6, 2016
— Andy Brown (@andybrown249) February 6, 2016
— Left Out Loud (@LeftOutLoud) February 6, 2016
Others pointed out that Twitter already allows you to see what you want — in the form of the “follow” button — and that the changes would make it more like Facebook. And that would be odd, because if Twitter users wanted another Facebook, they wouldn’t have joined Twitter.
No I don't want Twitter to look like Facebook Wtffffffff #RipTwitter
— Portent xIcy (@xIcy_) February 6, 2016
I'm here in Twitter here because I didn't like Facebook so why you're gonna change it? #riptwitter
— maybe Nathalie (@oh_natnat) February 6, 2016
Twitter. Or as I like to call it, "sort of Facebook but almost worse now if that's possible." #riptwitter
— Hutch (@z0mgItsHutch) February 6, 2016
>launch site ads
>put them in feed
>treat users as data cattle
>remove chronological feed
Myspace, Facebook, #RIPTwitter.
— Bagel (@BagelBay) February 6, 2016
It's like Twitter saw Facebook getting comfy in its casket and said HEY, I BET YOU GOT ROOM FOR ONE MORE and jumped on in.#RIPTwitter
— Nobody (@DamerGad) February 6, 2016
— Caligirl22 (@Twitlertwit) February 6, 2016
#RIPTwitter I don't want twitter to be Facebook this us wrong listen to da people's!
— Eva diva (@Destructo_Dog) February 6, 2016
— Marianne (@DanishWolf) February 6, 2016
Youth and young adults left Facebook for Twitter because they introduced algorithmic timelines, why is Twitter following suit? #RIPTwitter
— Cameron (@iamcameronmoore) February 6, 2016
#RIPTwitter If I wanted sporadic, curated, posts that YOU thought it was important for ME to see.. I'd go to Facebook.. smh..
— Christian Davis EBN (@EarBaconX) February 6, 2016
The consensus seems to be that the slated changes are actually about ensuring that people are more likely to see ads and are designed to ease investor pressure. It’s understandable, if slightly unpalatable. And while it’s unlikely to cause the mass exodus that some are predicting, it does seem likely that Twitter will be a generally less pleasant experience if the changes are forced on everyone.