Twitter brings back chronological timelines

Some Twitter users have complained about seeing "the best" tweets in a Facebook-style timeline and want to return to the old days when they were in chronological order. Twitter now offers that option, and plans to make it easier to switch between the two views..
Written by Jack Schofield, Contributor

Twitter annoyed a lot of long-term users when it switched from its original, chronological timeline to a view that promoted "relevant" tweets. Like Facebook before it, Twitter recognized that there were now so many tweets that nobody was going to read them all -- unless they followed a fairly small number of users. It then applied machine learning to highlight the tweets it thought you would like, regardless of chronological order.

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I just opened one of my Twitter feeds and the top tweets were 7 hours and 21 hours old. (In fact, the second tweet was four days old, but it was a "promoted tweet" -- an advertisement for a TV series.)

In a series of tweets posted Sept. 18, Twitter Support defended this approach while acknowledging that it didn't satisfy everyone. It tweeted: "We've learned that when showing the best Tweets first, people find Twitter more relevant and useful. However, we've heard feedback from people who at times prefer to see the most recent Tweets."

Also: Twitter will soon let you switch to a chronological timeline

The company added: "So, we're working on providing you with an easily accessible way to switch between a timeline of Tweets that are most relevant for you and a timeline of the latest Tweets. You'll see us test this in the coming weeks."

In the meantime, Twitter has changed the way one of its settings works.

Previously, if you turned off the setting to "Show the best Tweets first," you would still see a batch of old "In case you missed it" tweets at or near the top. Now you won't.

This would appear to solve the problem for users who just want see the tweets from the people they follow in the order in which they were tweeted.

However, Twitter intends to provide an easy-access switch that will enable people to toggle between the two approaches.

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To do it on the Twitter website, you have to go to Settings and Privacy, scroll down to the Content section, and untick the box that says "Timeline - Show the best Tweets first." It could easily be made a one-click option on the menu bar between Messages and the Twitter (blue bird) icon.

Twitter Lists already provide a solution for some users. If you want to see tweets from certain accounts, add them to a Twitter list and their tweets will appear in chronological order. Group related accounts together and give them names (News, Apple, Microsoft, Photography, Security etc.,) and the resulting lists make different topics really easy to track. I have more than 20.

Unfortunately, lists seem to be too much work for many users, or beyond their understanding, so Twitter has more or less abandoned them.

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