Twitter has reversed course on its extremely unpopular decision to make an algorithmically generated timeline the default for all Twitter users. On Tuesday, the company’s support page said that Twitter users could again default to seeing posts from accounts they follow in chronological order.
The change will start on the web version of Twitter before “soon” coming to the iOS and Android versions of the app. The move comes just two weeks after the company made the much-maligned decision to force feed users content based on stuff “You might like.” The magnanimous Twitter owner Elon Musk mentioned last Friday he would make the system remember which tab users were on last for every time they load the site.
On Jan. 10, Twitter eliminated the “sparkle” button at the top of the page and switched the “Latest” and “Recommended” toggle with “For You” and “Following” tabs. The change started with iOS users before extending to desktop and Android versions of Twitter. Users chaffed as they were forced to see an algorithmically-recommended feed of content by default every time they loaded the page or app. During these past two weeks, folks across Twitter complained about seeing more spam and content they had little to no interest in.
The thing is, Twitter has been up and down this exact road before. The site introduced an algorithmic-based feed in 2016 and then finally gave users their chronological timeline back in 2018. Then in March last year, the company suddenly decided to make its “Home” and “Latest” timelines accessible via tabs on the top of the site, where of course Home was default. It took the company just four days to reverse that decision after public outcry. Longtime users were quick to point out this lack of hindsight.
Musk has been a longtime Twitter user, so it made the sudden reversal and forced algorithm feel even more ass backwards than it had previously. Of course, Twitter likely wanted to move toward a more TikTok-style algorithm, helping drive engagement and create that addictive quality that has made the ByteDance-owned app one of the most prolific social media platforms around.
But Twitter likely isn’t done with this whole escapade. It’s already banned third party apps and is letting political ads once again flood users’ feeds. The company will do whatever it can to squeeze more money out of its compressed form. Twitter’s landlords have alleged the company has stopped paying rent at its offices, so the next big update that everybody universally hates may soon be developed out of a parking lot.