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September 18, 2018

A lot less clutter! Twitter relaunches purely chronological timeline

by John_A

If you’re a Twitter user that continues to lament the loss of your reverse-chronological timeline, then we’ve some good news for you.

The social media company on Monday said that in response to feedback, it’s one again allowing you to see your most recent tweets first — without the “best tweets first,” “in case you missed it” posts, and recommended tweets from people you don’t follow cluttering up the timeline and playing havoc with the order. In other words, you can now properly reject Twitter’s algorithmic timeline that it introduced in 2016.

When Twitter rejigged its timeline two years ago, it introduced a button in Settings that let you turn off “show the best tweets first,” but even when this was set to off, timelines were still peppered with “in case you missed it” posts and recommended tweets that were likely posted many hours before, a feature some users found confusing.

From today, if the button is switched to off, Twitter says you’ll only see tweets from people you follow, with the most recent posts at the top — and no other clutter. You can find the button by going to Settings and then Content preferences.

5/ Meanwhile, today we updated the “Show the best Tweets first” setting. When off, you’ll only see Tweets from people you follow in reverse chronological order. Previously when turned off, you’d also see “In case you missed it” and recommended Tweets from people you don’t follow.

— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) September 17, 2018

More control over the timeline

The San Francisco-based company announced the move in a series of tweets posted on Tuesday in which it said it wanted to give users more control over their timeline.

“We’ve learned that when showing the best tweets first, people find Twitter more relevant and useful. However, we’ve heard feedback from people who at times prefer to see the most recent tweets.” That’s right, folks, two whole years after Twitter messed about with the timelines, people are still calling for a return to the good ol’ days of a pure, untouched timeline. Save for ads, of course.

Twitter said its aim with the timeline has always been to find a balance between showing the most recent tweets with the best tweets that “you’re likely to care about,” adding that it knows it doesn’t always get the balance right.

It says it’s currently working on providing “an easily accessible way to switch between a timeline of tweets that are most relevant for you and a timeline of the latest tweets” so that you can, if you wish, jump between both timelines in a simple tap or two.

While many people on Twitter may be perfectly happy with its algorithmic timeline and the way it surfaces extras such as recommended tweets, viral posts, or others that landed on the social media site while you were busy doing other things, it seems there are enough users out there who would still like the option to revert to the recent-tweets timeline.

Take note, though. If the move adversely affects engagement on the site, or hits revenue generated through ads, the company may well ditch the option and look for other ways to create a timeline that’s popular for users while at the same time lucrative for its business. We’ll keep you posted.

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