This is how Twitter's new timeline works

By Hayley Tsukayama

Twitter has tweaked its timeline to be more like Facebook's in a bid to get new users hooked. Photo / Bloomberg
Twitter has tweaked its timeline to be more like Facebook's in a bid to get new users hooked. Photo / Bloomberg

Well, Twitter fans. The apocalypse has come. Twitter's reordered timeline is here.

And it's, um, not so bad, actually. In a company blog post, Twitter engineering manager Mike Jahr said that "important" messages can now be more or less pinned to the top of your timeline, a design that's meant to make sure that you see the messages that matter most every time you log in.

Plus -- and this is important -- the new timeline order can be turned off.

Users interested in having a few recommended messages pulled out of their stream will be able to head into their Settings menu and choose an option that says, "Show me the best Tweets first." If you decide it's not showing you what you want, you can turn it off.

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The new timeline is an option only in Twitter's iOS and Android apps and on the Web, meaning clients such as TweetDeck are not affected.

So how does Twitter determine what's an important message and what isn't?

According to a company help page, Twitter chooses which messages should be reordered by looking at elements such as the "accounts you interact with most" and "Tweets you engage with." Messages will still be recent, Jahr said, and other messages will still appear under the pinned tweets in reverse chronological order.

Even if you do have the feature turned on, reloading your stream will restore its normal reverse-chronological order. "At any point, just pull-to-refresh to see all new Tweets at the top in the live, up-to-the-second experience you already know and love," Jahr wrote.

According to Jahr's post, the feature has already prompted people who've tested it to "Retweet and Tweet more, creating more live commentary and conversations, which is great for everyone."

At any point, just pull-to-refresh to see all new Tweets at the top in the live, up-to-the-second experience you already know and love.

The rollout of this feature comes as Twitter has been feeling pressure from investors and advertisers who'd like to see the network be friendlier to new users who may find its fast-flowing streams overwhelming. Being able to get some grasp on what is or is not important could help make the site more accessible.

The company is also highlighting the new timeline's value to advertisers. In its advertising blog, the company emphasized that brands can use the "important message" feature to more effectively reach their account's followers.

"Today, we're launching an improved timeline to help people see Tweets that are important to them - from their favorite athletes, musicians, politicians, or brands," wrote product marketing manager Eric Farkas.

The option to turn the feature on should roll out to all users this week. Jahr's post said the company will be turning the feature on for everyone in the "coming weeks."

And don't worry, you will know when the new timeline is turned on for your account. "Look out for a notification in your timeline," Jahr wrote.

- Washington Post

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