Tech site BuzzFeed has set the Twittersphere alight with claims that the social media site is set to introduce a new Facebook-style algorithmic feed next week. The shift away from the current reverse chronological model will filter out what users will see when they log in, which is likely to impact how individuals connect with each other.
The new algorithm is an expanded version of the “while you were away” feature launched twelve months ago. It will rank tweets and re-order the timeline, showing you the highlights of the day, and users will also be able to see related posts for tweets if they want to delve further into a particular tweet or topic.
Former Twitter product manager for the timeline Paul Rosania spoke about the possible changes. He said “In a purely chronological feed, tweet quality is distributed *randomly.* If you miss any tweets, *any at all,* there will be just as much good stuff in there as there is in what you actually see. Delivering some of that, by pushing down something else, is *guaranteed* to give you a better experience. Not by principle, just by math.”
The algorithmic timeline will help to elevate popular content, and social media analyst Ben Thompson recently claimed in a blog post on Stratechery that Facebook’s use of algorithm, which is enabling it to grow rapidly, is one of its core advantages over Twitter. Former Facebook CTO Bret Taylor added “Algorithmic feed was always the thing people said they didn’t want but demonstrated they did via every conceivable metric. It’s just better.”
According to The Verge, while the feed will be the new default on Twitter, users will have the option to opt out and there appears to be no signs of the original chronological timeline being replaced entirely. The new feed will basically enable users to see the most popular things first before reverting to the regular reverse-chronology when they scroll back up.
Reaction to the algorithm has been mixed since BuzzFeed reported the news at the weekend. It remains to be seen whether Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announces any official changes during the coming days.