After years of debate and months of user testing, Twitter is rolling out a new version of its timeline this morning that ranks tweets by quality in addition to timeliness. As The Verge first reported on Saturday, the feature is based on the algorithms that power Twitter’s “while you were away” feature, which show you a selection of tweets based on how popular they are, and whether you regularly interact with the person tweeting them. When you open Twitter after some time away, highly ranked tweets will show up at the top of your timeline in reverse-chronological order. The rest of your timeline appears underneath as usual.
For a while, the controversial new timeline will not be enabled by default. “Show me the best tweets first,” as the feature is called, is a toggle located in settings. But over “coming weeks,” Twitter says it plans to switch the new timeline on for all users, letting them know via a notification in the timeline. If you don’t like it, you can turn it off in settings. The change is coming to each of Twitter’s major platforms: iOS, Android, and the web. (TweetDeck and Twitter for Mac are unaffected, at least for now.)
People who have tested the algorithmic timeline have reported mixed feelings, with some saying they appreciate getting caught up more quickly, and others saying that the new timeline sometimes splits up conversations. Advocates for a ranked timeline say it always outperforms chronological timelines in user surveys, even when users say they prefer the latter. Which will prove true with Twitter users? With the company set to report earnings later today, there’s a lot riding on the answer.