Twitter is testing the biggest change yet to the way users experience the site. The social network began a limited rollout of non-chronological timelines, which means some users are seeing tweets displayed in an algorithmic, non-linear fashion, somewhat similar to Facebook’s News Feed.
Dedicated users of the site are, predictably, not too happy:
The move is just the latest in a series of changes made to Twitter in recent months by returning CEO Jack Dorsey, including the launch of “Moments,” which collects tweets in short narratives.
This past October, Dorsey emphasized the importance of Moments to Twitter, calling it a “real shift in our thinking.” The photo- and multimedia-heavy feature is intended make Twitter easier to understand for new users. By collecting tweets around sports games, television shows, and breaking news events, Twitter competes with similar features offered by Snapchat and Facebook.
Users on Twitter seem universally disappointed with the timeline change. However, there’s one big complication for them: Twitter’s loyalty isn’t primarily to its regular users. As a publicly traded corporation, it is accountable to shareholders, and the company has been struggling with slow user growth and with retaining new members. For every dedicated Twitter user, there are hundreds more who signed up for an account once and never returned, or casual browsers who never tweet or create accounts.
In the near future, users looking for a strictly linear, point-in-time Twitter experience may have to resort to external products such as TweetDeck or Hootsuite.
Fast Company has reached out to Twitter and will update this article as needed.