Twitter’s testing a new option that will make it easier for users to switch across to a reverse-chronological timeline of tweets from the profiles that you follow, which has long been among the top requests from Twitter users.
Top Tweets first or latest Tweets first? We’re making it easier to switch between the two timelines and know which one you’re scrolling.— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) October 12, 2021
Now testing with some of you on iOS: swipe between "Home" and "Latest" on the Home tab to choose which Tweets you see first. pic.twitter.com/LoyAN4cONu
As you can see here, Twitter is now making it even easier to check out the latest tweets first, by adding a swipeable timeline option, meaning that all you need to do is swipe left to see the latest tweets.
Which is not technically anything new. As highlighted in the demonstration here, users have been able to tap on the top of feed ‘star’ icon to switch to a listing of the latest tweets since 2018, which Twitter added after much consternation about its decision to implement a feed algorithm two years prior.
Twitter’s switch to a default algorithm feed has been effective, with tweet engagement steadily rising since it rolled out the option, which presents your tweets based on overall engagement, as well as your personal interactive behaviors in the app. But many Twitter users view the algorithm-defined feed as being contrary to what Twitter is all about, in highlighting the latest news and updates in real-time. As a result, calls for the removal of the Twitter algorithm have persisted over time, and even though Twitter has provided an option to switch over to a ‘Latest’ feed for the past three years, the fact that your stream reverts to the algorithm, and that you can’t set ‘Latest’ as the default, has frustrated some users.
Even Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has provided a veiled critique in this respect.
I used @getvicarious to create and sync a list of all accounts I’m following, set that list to be reverse chron, named it “Latest” and pinned it, and now I can quickly swipe between ranked (algorithm) and all tweets as they happen— jack⚡️ (@jack) August 12, 2021
(inspired by an idea from team) pic.twitter.com/ZfSg9pGeds
Which is now, essentially, what Twitter’s shipping - which, again, is not a major shift, but it will provide a quicker, easier way to access the latest tweets.
It’s also interesting timing from Twitter, given the latest controversy around Facebook, and the new calls for regulation over how its feed algorithm works. Last week, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen told a Senate committee that, in her view, Facebook’s News Feed algorithm is harmful, and that by regulating, or even removing it, that would be a better outcome for engagement in the app.
Now, here’s Twitter saying it will let users view content in its app as they chose, with an easier way to essentially switch off its algorithm entirely.
It seems like an opportune moment in this respect – though the prevalence, and influence of Facebook’s infamous News Feed algorithm seems far more pervasive than Twitter’s feed.
Maybe, this is Twitter’s way of welcoming algorithmic regulation, and underlining that it’s fine with users being able to control their timelines. Maybe, it’s a subtle dig at Zuck and Co.
Either way, it’s another, simple option for controlling your in-app experience, which, along with list-based timelines, will help users dictate their varying tweet inputs.