Dear Twitter: There’s No Need to Piss Anyone Off. Why Not Give Us Two Kinds of Timelines?

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Twitter is getting a new CEO, so it must be time for some bold new directions. But what should Twitter do? Here’s a suggestion that I’ve read at least half a dozen times in the past couple of days:

Right now, Twitter displays tweets in strict reverse chronological order, but [Chris] Sacca encourages Twitter to relax this assumption. Instead, when a user logs in, the platform should show a selection of the most interesting and insightful tweets that would have appeared on the user’s timeline since the last check-in.

The counterargument here is that a more accessible version of Twitter already exists. It’s called Facebook, and it’s wildly popular. The danger is that aping Facebook might alienate existing users more quickly than it attracts new ones.

I totally get this. I only follow 200 people on Twitter, and even at that it’s like a firehose. All I can do is dip into it whenever it happens to cross my mind. This means that once an hour or so I see 10 or 20 random tweets, and then go back to whatever I was doing. I almost certainly miss lots of stuff I’d be interested in.

At the same time, chronological order is pretty handy if you’re having a conversation, or some kind of news is breaking. I wouldn’t want to give that up.

But why should I? Is there really any technological barrier to having both? I’d love to toggle back and forth. Maybe I’d take a look at the algorithmic feed once an hour to see if I’ve missed anything important, and then switch to the chronological feed if something was going on or if I just felt like randomly dipping in to the firehose. Sometimes random is good, after all. It keeps you out of a rut.

So….what’s the deal here? Why can’t we have both?

UPDATE: Atrios comments here. FWIW, I blame Apple.

WE'LL BE BLUNT:

We need to start raising significantly more in donations from our online community of readers, especially from those who read Mother Jones regularly but have never decided to pitch in because you figured others always will. We also need long-time and new donors, everyone, to keep showing up for us.

In "It's Not a Crisis. This Is the New Normal," we explain, as matter-of-factly as we can, what exactly our finances look like, how brutal it is to sustain quality journalism right now, what makes Mother Jones different than most of the news out there, and why support from readers is the only thing that keeps us going. Despite the challenges, we're optimistic we can increase the share of online readers who decide to donate—starting with hitting an ambitious $300,000 goal in just three weeks to make sure we can finish our fiscal year break-even in the coming months.

Please learn more about how Mother Jones works and our 47-year history of doing nonprofit journalism that you don't find elsewhere—and help us do it with a donation if you can. We've already cut expenses and hitting our online goal is critical right now.

payment methods

WE'LL BE BLUNT

We need to start raising significantly more in donations from our online community of readers, especially from those who read Mother Jones regularly but have never decided to pitch in because you figured others always will. We also need long-time and new donors, everyone, to keep showing up for us.

In "It's Not a Crisis. This Is the New Normal," we explain, as matter-of-factly as we can, what exactly our finances look like, how brutal it is to sustain quality journalism right now, what makes Mother Jones different than most of the news out there, and why support from readers is the only thing that keeps us going. Despite the challenges, we're optimistic we can increase the share of online readers who decide to donate—starting with hitting an ambitious $300,000 goal in just three weeks to make sure we can finish our fiscal year break-even in the coming months.

Please learn more about how Mother Jones works and our 47-year history of doing nonprofit journalism that you don't find elsewhere—and help us do it with a donation if you can. We've already cut expenses and hitting our online goal is critical right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate