Why can we never leave well enough alone? I know; grumble grumble, get off my lawn and all that, but seriously… Go into an American grocery this week and the cereal’s in aisle 7. Go into the same store next week; they’ve switched everything around and you can’t find the bleeping Cheerios. WHERE ARE THE BLEEPING CHEERIOS? Facebook has played its version of that game with us several times now, changing what we see in our newsfeed from posts by our friends appearing in the actual order they were made to the
ever-popular “Most Recent” (aka using some nonsensical alterna-timeline to determine post order). Being the stubborn mules that some of us are, we brethren and sistren have installed the appropriate “fixers” to re-sort posts back to “real time” but in all honesty, Facebook time is still a mess. Don’t even get me started on the completely different posts you’ll get on mobile Facebook vs. what shows on your computer; it’s like two separate worlds (one version clues you in on your friend’s trip to the hospital, and the other leaves you in ignorant bliss, with your friend left thinking you’re just an asshole).
If you enjoy playing Doctor Who and traveling to different times, you’ll be delighted to hear Facebook’s step-cousin Twitter is now ready to play. Or not. After last Friday, Buzzfeed reported the social networking service would be switching to an “algorithmic timeline,” Twitter was, well…atwitter that Twitter had died, and #RIPTwitter was born.
Soon as Twitter becomes Facebook, I'm out of here! #RIPTwitter— Brian Nufc (@Brian_NUFC) February 7, 2016
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey got wind of the hashtag, and quickly went into damage control mode,
Hello Twitter! Regarding #RIPTwitter: I want you all to know we're always listening. We never planned to reorder timelines next week.— Jack (@jack) February 6, 2016
Twitter is live. Twitter is real-time. Twitter is about who & what you follow. And Twitter is here to stay! By becoming more Twitter-y.— Jack (@jack) February 6, 2016
However, and here’s the important part, he couldn’t completely deny the upcoming changes. Rather, he told users how to kinda sorta bypass them.
Look at "while you were away" at the top of your TL. Tweets you missed from people you follow. Pull to refresh to go back to real-time.— Jack (@jack) February 6, 2016
According to The Verge — which has a screenshot of the new Twitter timeline, and has conferred with people testing it out — an algorithmic sort will determine display order.
“The algorithm that will re-order your timeline is based on the one that ranks tweets for the “while you were away” feature…Spend an entire day away from Twitter, and when you open the app again, you’ll see highlights from the day. If you open it up a few times a day, you’ll see a handful of ‘while you were away’-style sections breaking up the chronological tweets. And whenever you pull down to refresh your stream, it’s back to the regular, reverse-chronological timeline…it’s like the Reddit homepage, showing the most popular things first. Scroll back up, and the feed turns into regular reverse-chronology Twitter.”
Here’s The Verge’s screenshot sample (note the times):
So no, for now the timeline change isn’t terrible; you can (kinda-sorta) opt out by pulling down to reset the reverse chronological order, BUT:
a) Test users aren’t happy with the new display. “I started to get used to it but I still think that it is a terrible idea. It tears conversations apart, and it’s really confusing when some people have been live-tweeting an event and those things get scattered all across my timeline. It makes it extremely hard to follow events…”
b) You and I know that eventually the “option” of resorting will eventually disappear; these things always do. We’ve seen the pull-down aka refresh in action on Facebook, and it’s not impressive.
I know this is no way to start your Monday (along with more east coast snow), but then again, Mondays are already miserable. Let’s hope we’re getting all the bad news right out of the way. I don’t know about y’all, but I am truly looking forward to knowing even less about what’s happening as it actually happens. The way I see it, if we somehow end up with a Republican president, MAYBE WE WON’T FIND OUT ABOUT IT UNTIL HIS TERM IS OVER.
Happy Monday, y’all. Please don’t ask me when the Twitter changes go into effect, or I’ll be lost in a self-created temporal paradox.