Twitter a couple years ago randomly decided to mess up how it shows tweets from people you follow in the timeline.
It took the old, reverse-chronological feed and applied an algorithm meant to surface tweets it thinks you'd care about most. The goal was to drive user engagement. But it meant you would see things like "tweets you may have missed" at the top of your timeline. At any point, you could pull-to-refresh to get an up-to-the-second experience, but many people hated seeing old tweets every time they opened Twitter on their phone or desktop.
For instance, you've probably seen a day-old tweet about some viral moment in a sporting event, rather than a true stream of real-time tweets. And, even if you did pull-to-refresh, after scrolling down a bit, you probably saw more old tweets inserted into your feed. Thankfully, even though it took awhile, Twitter has backpedalled on this annoying experience. Here's what you need to know.
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Why did Twitter drop reverse chronological timelines?
Well, Facebook and Instagram had begun shifting from the previously orderly way of doing things to serve up posts you most likely want to see most. Think about it: If you have a 1,000 friends on Facebook, you don't want to see every single thing each and every one of them post. Facebook thinks you don't, anyway, so it uses algorithms to show posts that likely matter most.
But what's good for Facebook isn't necessarily what's best for Twitter. And it seems like Twitter is starting to come to that realisation, as it is finally letting users get back their unfettered chronological timelines.
Android, we got you. Starting today, tap ✨ to switch between latest and top Tweets. pic.twitter.com/7rXo3BNEJ6— Twitter (@Twitter) January 15, 2019
How to see tweets in reverse chronological order
Any Twitter user - either from an iPhone, Android, or PC - can get back to the pre-2016 era of the Twitter timeline.
- Open up your Twitter app.
- Tap the stars icon in the top corner.
- Select See latest tweets instead.
Note: To reverse this, hit the stars icon again, and select Go back home.
- Open up Twitter.com in your browser.
- Go to Settings and Privacy.
- Go to Account.
- Scroll down to "Show the best tweets first".
- Un-check that setting.
What does the 'show the best tweets first' box do?
Twitter recently updated its “Show the best Tweets first” setting. Now, when this is switched off, you’ll only see tweets from people you follow in reverse chronological order. Previously, you’d also see “In case you missed it”-type tweets as well as recommended tweets from people you don’t follow. Twitter will eventually replace this setting with an "easier-to-access switch".
Why is Twitter returning to reverse chronological timelines?
Twitter via Twitter Support announced it's been working on new ways to give you more control over your timeline. It learned that showing the best tweets first is "more relevant and useful" - but it doesn’t "always get this balance right". So, it's providing us with an easy way to switch between a timeline of tweets that are most relevant to a timeline of the latest tweets.
1/ We’re working on new ways to give you more control over your timeline. But first, some context: Twitter helps you see what’s happening by showing the best Tweets for you based on your interactions.https://t.co/H5nuhQy3r2— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) September 17, 2018