According to the company, the new timeline is helping users get more out of each interaction on Twitter. Essentially, tweets can gather more likes and retweets many minutes or even hours after being posted because they’re being stuffed back at the top of the line. Twitter’s letter to shareholders today reads:
The enhanced timeline we launched this quarter is a great step forward, improving both speed and relevance. For users with the new timeline, we’ve seen increases in Tweets, Retweets, replies, and likes, a sign that it improves people’s experience on Twitter. Although people can still opt out if they wish, the opt-out rate is extremely low (about 2%).
There are a few particulars at play. Some Twitter mobile users may not have even realized they were using the algorithmic timeline, despite Twitter turning it on default for all users last month. There’s also no easy way to deactivate the feature unless you go actively looking for it. To turn it off, you have to go to your settings panel, click on “Account” and uncheck the box that reads, “Show me the best Tweets first.” On mobile, you have to navigate to settings, tap on “Timeline,” and uncheck the same box.
You’d have to be quite passionate about having a purely reverse-chronological feed to have either Googled that process or figured it out on your own. Still, Twitter’s new timeline received mixed responses when news of the move was first reported, with high-profile users threatening to abandon the product. That the company managed to follow through and alter its feed without users rushing to reverse the process counts as a success.