With or without Elon Musk at the helm, Twitter can’t seem to decide what it wants to do with its algorithmic timeline, currently branded as “for you,” which shows tweets it thinks you’ll like, whether or not you follow the tweeter.
For years it’s been messing about not only with the algorithm, but also with the extent to which it forces the timeline on users.
In 2016, you had to actively select the algorithmic timeline if you wanted to view it. Then Twitter made it the default, a move that annoyed users who preferred to go straight to their carefully curated chronological feed. Twitter eventually relented and set it so that when you reopened the app, you’d return to the timeline you were looking at last.
But then a few weeks ago, it made the “for you” timeline the default again, forcing users to have to swipe the screen to access the chronological timeline, currently called “following.”
The return to “for you” as the default upset a lot of people (again). The good news is that Twitter has relented (again) and will soon show the same feed that you were last using each time you reopen the app (again!).
“Were any of you (all of you) asking for your timeline to default to where you left it last?” Twitter Support said in a tweet on Wednesday.
It added that starting now on the web version of Twitter, the service will remember which timeline you were using so that you won’t have to fiddle about switching feeds if you want the chronological timeline. The same change will be made to the iOS and Android Twitter apps, but the company could only say it’s “coming soon.”
It’s clear why Twitter wants to push its algorithmic feed as it shows a lot of tweets by people you don’t follow, a design that supposedly boosts engagement on the service, increasing connections throughout the platform and enabling Twitter to take that data to advertisers.
But with the chronological feed, the user feels they have more control over the content as they’re seeing tweets from those they follow, including their retweets. Also, this timeline feels more orderly, as the posts appear with the latest ones at the top, and not all jumbled up as they are in the “for you” feed
Perhaps this latest change will finally put the matter to bed. Though we wouldn’t bet on it.