Twitter is experimenting with a new timeline format where tweets are sorted by relevance rather than in reverse chronological order it has been distinguished for. The move seems to be similar to Facebook's news feed that uses an algorithm to rank content by relevance.
"This is an experiment. We're continuing to explore ways to surface the best content for people using Twitter," said a spokesperson for Twitter on 8 December. The company had been hinting at a possible move towards an algorithmic-driven news feed for more than a year now ito make its service more relevant and easier to use.
In the last Q2 earnings call, Jack Dorsey the Twitter CEO had said:
You will see us continue to question our reverse chronological timeline, and all the work it takes to build one by finding and following accounts, through experiences like 'while you were away'. We continue to show a questioning of our fundamentals in order to make the product easier and more accessible to more people.
The news feed emphasising relevance over timeliness is a significant change as the reverse chronological timeline has been fundamental to Twitter since it began nine years ago. Besides, it made sense for a real-time service such as the micro-blogging site.
One possible reason why Twitter is experimenting with the non-chronological order: timely tweets can get buried at the bottom of the feed if the user does not have the app open. To address this issue, Twitter added the feature "while you were away" in January to make sure users did not miss out on important tweets.
Anyway, many Twitter users are not happy with the new ordering of tweets based on relevance and have criticised the site for copying Facebook. Recently, the site had also replaced its favourites feature with a heart-shaped "like" icon, similar to Facebook's "like".
The most talked about change now is the roll-out of a feature that will allow users to share tweets that are longer than the currently permitted 140 characters. Users can already tweet out blocks of text with products like OneShot, but those are published as images, not text.
Under Dorsey, Twitter has begun to seek change in order to grow the company's stagnant user base. As of November 2015 Twitter had 316 million users, compared to Facebook's 1.5 billion user base, as per Statista.