Twitter has updated its app to make it easier to switch between the algorithmically programmed Home timeline and the feed that displays the “Latest” tweets, using swipes. Typically, when users want to move between timelines, they have to tap the “sparkle” icon in the top-right of the screen, then do so again to switch back. But starting today on iOS, tapping that icon will offer the option to pin both the Home and Latest timelines to your Twitter Home page, so you can instead swipe back and forth between the two feeds.
Update: On Monday, following complaints as to how users could not have their Timelines default to recent tweets, Twitter removed the tabbed experience. The company says it will now “explore other options.” The original post is below.
Explains Twitter, the update makes the option to see recent posts “more visible and intuitive to use.” It also reduces confusion by making it easier to see which timeline you’re currently scrolling, the company says.
The change comes at a time when there’s been increased regulatory pressure on tech companies related to their algorithmic recommendation systems and the lack of transparency around their inner workings. For example, a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers put forward the Filter Bubble Transparency Act, which would require tech companies to offer a version of their platforms that doesn’t leverage user data to make recommendations. The bill wants to give users the option to turn off the tech company’s recommendation algorithms if they choose.
Since then, Instagram promised to re-introduce a chronological feed option. (Or technically, a reverse-chronological feed, if we’re being precise.)
Twitter, however, had already offered such an option, though some may not have known it existed. This latest change may exactly help to better surface the feature — the sparkle icon sits in the same place as before — but it could make it easier to quickly swap between timelines.
In addition to supporting user choice, a “Latest” feed is also the sort of tool that people turn to in a breaking news situation, when the immediacy of information is more critical than an algorithmic suggestion of the “best” content you may have missed. And that’s particularly useful now amid the Russia-Ukraine war, where people are relying on social media apps to get the latest news about what’s happening on the ground.
At launch, the feature is iOS only, but it will “soon” roll out to both Android and the web. Pushed for more specificity on that date, Twitter could only promise it would be “in the coming weeks.”
Twitter had first started publicly testing this feature in October. The company said feedback was positive so it has decided to ship it more broadly. Unfortunately for those who prefer a chronological feed, you are not able to set it as a default, which is an annoyance for many who more regularly reference the Latest timeline.
Update, 3/14/22, 3:52 PM ET: due to the complaints, Twitter has now removed the feature — a decision that now means users have to go back to tapping the sparkle icon each time they want to change views, which is still not ideal. While many of Twitter’s (vocal) power users prefer a Latest tweets-focused experience, a quieter group of casual Twitter users likely don’t mind seeing the highlights as they much more infrequently log in. But Twitter is always stuck having to satisfy both audiences, which is why it should have probably just allowed users to choose their own setting in the first place.