This week, Twitter made its new algorithmic timeline the default setting for users across its entire service. The change is intended to help users see the tweets that are most relevant to them first, instead of just the most recent. It’s perhaps the biggest move yet in new-old CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey’s attempts to shake things up and goose stalled user growth.
When the idea of the algorithmic feed first surfaced in early February, diehard users foresaw doom in the change, widely tweeting the hashtag “#riptwitter.” So you might expect a mass exodus away from the new feed—or even the entire service.
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But according to data the company shared with TechCrunch, that hasn’t happened—the opt-out rate over the course of the entire rollout of the algorithmic timeline has apparently been in the “low single digits.” The company also claims that the new timeline has led to broad increases in user engagement—things like favorites, retweets, and replies.
On the face of it, the algorithmic feed, which echoes Facebook’s hugely successful efforts to highlight the most engaging content, is contrary to the core Twitter value of ‘liveness’ that Dorsey spelled out last month. But it seems Twitter (TWTR) is doing a good job of showing users the best stuff, while still keeping it live—my own feed, which uses the new algorithm, still has tweets from the last ten minutes or so at the top. And as our Mathew Ingram predicted, Twitter users can still opt for the traditional, unfiltered “live” feed.
For more on the new Twitter feed, watch our video.
Twitter’s initiative seems to have inspired another social media giant to play with the definition of “real time.” Instagram (FB)—whose instantness is, well, right there in the name—has also started testing algorithmic filtering.