As flagged by Twitter chief Elon Musk over the weekend, Twitter has today rolled out its new swipeable timeline option, which will make it easier for users to switch between the algorithm-defined main feed (which includes recommended tweets from people you don’t follow), and a chronological feed of just users that you follow in the app.
Which Twitter actually already launched in March last year, with an option to pin a swipeable feed of ‘Latest tweets’ after you tapped on the star icon in the top right of the app.
The new process is essentially the same, though Twitter’s renamed the feeds for ‘For You’ and ‘Following’, as opposed to ‘Home and ‘Latest Tweets’.
Wonder where they got ‘For you’ from.
Smirking aside, it actually may be a more valuable option now than it was last year, because Twitter is now jamming in as many recommended updates as it can into user feeds, in a bid to get people to explore more of what the app has to offer, and keep them engaged for longer sessions.
Which is essentially how TikTok has seen big success, by showing you a constant stream of things that you might like, as opposed to making you follow any specific profiles necessarily. It learns what you’re into, and serves you more of it, which gives it the advantage of highlighting more of the best content from across the app, and boosting engagement.
The difference here is that Twitter’s algorithm is rubbish, so you end up getting vague and tangentially related tweets, based on what people you follow have liked or followed, which is not a particularly engaging experience.
So now, if you’re sick of all that, you can just swipe across to get rid of it – while making it available by default could also get more people using the option, as opposed to having to tap the stars icon and pin the timeline in the previous iteration.
I would question the move from Twitter’s perspective, in that as Twitter works to improve its algorithm, and lean into the expanded discovery, if people get used to swiping across, it could render those efforts less effective, as people won’t even spend time in the algorithm-defined timeline.
Users will also, as they did last time, push Twitter to make the ‘Following’ feed the default – which is why Twitter rolled it back, because people were annoyed that they couldn’t set the non-algo feed as their main choice.
But again, it makes some sense, and could provide a better experience for a lot of users.
The new swipeable feeds option is now available on iOS. No word on Android availability as yet.