“While You Were Away,” which Twitter first previewed last fall, represents a significant departure from the real-time element that drew many users to the platform in the first place. Instead of showing you all the tweets you missed in reverse chronological order, it surfaces the “best tweets” based on user engagement. When users open the Twitter app, it is the first thing they see in their main Twitter feed, which can be annoying for people who don’t want to scroll through a bunch of notifications to see fresh tweets.
If the reaction to Twitter’s announcement is anything to go by, many users dislike the feature because they feel it clutters their feed and forces them to scroll through stale content picked by an algorithm–an experience they can already turn to Facebook for.
While users can’t turn off the feature, Twitter said in a blog post that recaps will pop up more frequently for users who check the app only once in a while. In other words, Twitter addicts won’t see “While You Were Away” as often.
As TechCrunch’s Anthony Ha pointed out, “While You Were Away” is a potential draw for people who don’t check their feed very often and feel overwhelmed when they finally open the app or site (the feature will be added to twitter.com soon). If Twitter manages to tap into a new demographic of casual users, it might help with the perennially slow growth of its core user base, a constant source of anxiety for shareholders.