Twitter users may have noticed the hashtag “#RIPTwitter” trending over the past few days. That’s because some users are fearing that the social media platform’s days may be numbered, now that the company has announced a new algorithmic style listing for its service.
That said, it’s not all doom and gloom, since users can opt out.
According to those familiar with testing, a user’s timeline will be shuffled based on rankings of tweets – basically an expansion of the “while you were away” feature. This will be updated throughout the day, depending how often a user checks on the timeline, and will then revert back to a reverse-chronological timeline when refreshed. Related posts of popular tweets will also be included, for those looking more into a particular subject.
Former Twitter employee Paul Rosania spoke in defense of the new timeline. “In a purely chronological feed, tweet quality is distributed *randomly,*” he explained. “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.”
In a purely chronological feed, tweet quality is distributed *randomly*. (Yes, recency plays a factor: more to come on that later.)
— Paul Rosania (@ptr) February 6, 2016
The move is the latest by Twitter in an attempt to bring in more users. The change in the timeline to an algorithmic format shouldn’t be a surprise, considering how popular it is on Facebook. “Algorithmic feed was always the thing people said they didn’t want but demonstrated they did via every conceivable metric,” said Bret Taylor, former chief technical officer for Facebook. “It’s just better.”
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has since gone on the offensive to quell the fears of users posting the “#RIPTwitter” hashtag, explaining that “Twitter is here to stay” and “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!” Plus, there were reassurances that the new timeline could be opted out of, if a user wasn’t interested in trying out the format.
As to when these changes will take place on Twitter has yet to be seen. There were whispers that it could be introduced as of this week, but the social site could still be in the testing phase, for a debut sometime down the road.
Considering the buzz it’s getting from such a change, however, it’s clear that Twitter is hardly anything but dead.