by Jason Howard Kelly
via USA Today:
Twitter is reportedly planning big changes next week to user timelines, organizes tweets using an algorithm instead of the standard, chronological order.
According to Buzzfeed, Twitter’s algorithm would place tweets it thinks users want to see most higher up on timelines. The report does not say whether users will be able to flip to a chronological order.
Facebook uses a process where it moves “Top Stories” to the top of users’ News Feed, but they have the option to switch to Most Recent updates. However, this change would be significant for Twitter, since the social network has established itself as an important hub for live updates during breaking news events.
“Well, Twitter is going to suck now.” That is the most common reaction among Twitter users upon hearing this news. Since its inception back in March of 2006 Twitter has established itself as the premiere forum for quick-hitting, knee-jerk reactions to current events. It quickly became the most entertaining social media platform online with over 300 million users, second only to Facebook (over 1 billion users).
But now it seems as though Twitter is trying to become more like its primary competitor, Facebook, with this proposed change. Hence, the hashtag #RIPTwitter was formed — Because this is not at all what the users want.
The majority of people who use Twitter do so in order to escape social media sites such as Facebook. Because Facebook allows your former college classmate, who used to do shots of Fireball whiskey off of his ex-girlfriend’s backside, to use the 63,000 character limit to lecture and preach about whatever he chooses. As comical, and sometimes nauseating, as it is to read the largely incoherent babble from ex-classmates, ex-girlfriends/boyfriends, and that one guy you met at that one frat party you wished you hadn’t gone to, Twitter has always been the better alternative. The 140 character limit is a refreshing change from the grandstanding that plagues Facebook timelines.
But perhaps the biggest advantage Twitter has over any other social media platform is its ability to be right on top of whatever is happening around the world. Any important news or happenings from around the globe will become a trending topic on Twitter in a matter of mere minutes. In fact, many users regard Twitter as their primary source for news these days. That is what makes this algorithm idea so frustrating for the users, especially if Twitter fails to include an option that allows the user to switch back to a chronological order for their Twitter feed. Try to imagine a major event, such as the upcoming Super Bowl or The Grammys, and not being able to see the most recent tweets from your followers coming across your feed. Those are exactly the kind of events that make Twitter the number one place to be on social media. There is nothing better than seeing the instant reaction to something from thousands and thousands of people right from the palm of your hand. It creates a shared experience unlike any other social media site on the web.
So let’s hope that Twitter at least gives us the option to keep our feeds in chronological order. Because the more and more that Twitter becomes similar to Facebook, the more users will look for an alternative to escape it.