What draws you to one social network over another? They’ve all got their particular hooks, but sometimes it’s less what one offers, and more what it doesn’t. For Twitter, that’s meant a focus on simplicity: you follow users, and you see their tweets – and when you follow multiple users, everyone’s tweets get sorted chronologically, with no Facebook-style editorializing getting in the way of which messages you see, and which you don’t. So when rumors started circulating earlier this month that Twitter was about to introduce an algorithm-driven sorting method of its own, users understandably began to panic; was this going to be the end of Twitter as we knew it? Today Twitter goes official with the new feature, and we think we can safely say that the sky is, in fact, not falling.
Here’s what’s going on: for users who choose to take advantage of the sorting algorithm, they’ll see a collection of what Twitter’s deemed the “best” tweets at the top of their timeline. Those tweets will themselves still be sorted chronologically, and then below all these popular tweets you’ll see the rest of your followers’ messages, again with standard chronological ordering. No messages will be hidden from you or removed from your timeline – just the ones Twitter thinks are the most likely to drive re-tweets or replys will float to the top.
Doesn’t sound like your cup of tea? No problemo, as no one’s twisting your arm to use the new system. Right now, it’s opt-in, and you’ll have to jump into your account settings and select the “Show me the best Tweets first” option to enable it.
In a few weeks Twitter will start turning it on by default for everyone, but you can always jump back into settings and turn it right off, keeping your timeline looking just like it always did.