Twitter logo is displayed at the entrance of Twitter headquarters in San Francisco on March 11, 2011 in California
Twitter logo is displayed at the entrance of Twitter headquarters in San Francisco on March 11, 2011 in California

Twitter timelines to stop being in chronological order, sorted instead by relevance and importance

The move will make Twitter’s all important timeline more like Facebook, and could be its biggest design change since it began in 2006

Andrew Griffin
Saturday 06 February 2016 15:57
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Twitter is about to shake up people’s timelines, rearranging them so that they’re not in chronological order.

As soon as next week, the company could make perhaps its biggest design change ever, according to BuzzFeed News. Twitter will stop tweets from appearing in reverse chronological order and instead list them by relevance or importance, according to the report.

The move is the latest in a range of changes made by new CEO Jack Dorsey. That has also included long direct messages and Twitter “Moments” – and the site is rumoured to bringing tweets of up to 10,000 characters at some point in the future.

Many of those changes are to bring Twitter more in line with Facebook – like the change from “favouriting” tweets to “liking” them. That’s thought to be partly a way of allowing people to understand Twitter more from the off, since they’ll probably have already been on Facebook.

The new feature will be opt in, rather than appearing on everyone’s feed at once, according to NBC’s director of branded content.

The company has been working at putting tweets out of order for some time. In 2014, the company’s chief financial officer said that chronological tweets “isn't the most relevant experience for a user”. “"Putting that content in front of the person at that moment in time is a way to organize that content better,” Anthony Noto said.

Some aspects of the non-chronological approach are already appearing. If people haven’t logged in to Twitter for some time, for instance, the site will show a section of tweets that have been posted in the meantime.

Those tweets are apparently listed by how much engagement – in the form of replies, likes and retweets – they have gained. It isn’t clear if the new non-chronological timelines will use a similar approach.

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