Twitter sparks controversy with newest update

The newest Twitter update will soon hit timelines everywhere. The company has developed an algorithm that will determine the Tweets each individual user will “want” to see over the traditional reverse-chronological timeline it currently uses.

Twitter confirmed the rumored update on Feb. 10 on its blog.

“You flip on the feature in your settings,” posted Mike Jahr, senior engineering manager for the social media giant. “Then when you open Twitter after being away for a while, the Tweets you’re most likely to care about will appear at the top of your timeline – still recent and in reverse chronological order.”

The algorithmically chosen Tweets will be the first seen by a user. The pull-to-refresh action, though, will restore all Tweets reverse chronologically.

Those wishing to test-drive the new feature can go to the timeline section under “Settings” and click “Show me the best Tweets first.” In the next few weeks, however, Twitter will automatically turn on the feature for all users. It can be turned off under the same settings section.

Backlash surfaced as soon as rumors of the updates emerged.

Users Tweeted various grievances to the site, most of which ended with #RIPTwitter, noting the site’s new feature as setback, not an advancement.

Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey took to his site on Feb. 6 in a series of Tweets justifying the update.

“Hello Twitter! Regarding #RIPTwitter: I want you all to know we’re always listening. We never planned to reorder timelines next week.

“Twitter is live. Twitter is real-time. Twitter is about who & what you follow. And Twitter is here to stay! By becoming more Twitter-y.

“I *love* real-time. We love the live stream. It’s us. And we’re going to continue to refine it to make Twitter feel more, not less, live!”

USA Today printed an article also on Feb. 6 noting the “two things Twitter users want instead of new timelines.”

The first was an edit feature.

Demand for an edit feature has been high, especially since celebrity and social media advocate Kim Kardashian emailed Twitter in July 2015 begging for said feature.

An edit feature would allow users to fix grammatical or other errors with a click rather than the current method – deleting the Tweet altogether and starting new.

Dorsey thanked Kardashian for her suggestion, but none such feature has yet to be released.

The second was the site’s copycat layout.

Users have noted the similarities to Facebook’s design. When users logon to Facebook, they see posts in a “Top Stories” layout. By clicking “Most Recent” under the Newsfeed button, the stories will align in reverse-chronological order.

Twitter has made several updates over the past year in an attempt to keep usage high and users satisfied.

A similar feature was tested in January 2015. The “While You Were Away” feature “a recap of some of the top Tweets you might have missed from accounts you follow,” said a blog post on the site by Product Manager Paul Rosania. The feature has since become a permanent staple to the Twitter timeline.

The site also exchanged its well-known “Favorite” button for a “Like” button in November, another similarity to Facebook.

There is no confirmed date set for the final induction of the algorithm to the site.



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