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Twitter has officially rolled out its controversial new Facebook-like algorithm which automatically sorts your feed into what Twitter thinks you would be most interested in. While it’s really just the same thing as the “While you were away” feature already in Twitter for a year, the algorithm attracted some vitriolic responses when it was leaked last week.

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For now, the feature is opt-in via the settings menu, but in a couple of weeks it will become the default setting. For those that simply hate it, there’s no need to abandon your special place in the Twittersphere, because you can still opt-out again in the settings once it becomes the default arrangement.


Why is it so unpopular?

The reason the idea is so unpopular is because it uses a relevancy algorithm similar to what Facebook uses, to rearrange the content in your Twitter feed rather than simply showing you an endless list of tweets in reverse-chronological order.

The idea is that the algorithm chooses the tweets you missed that you’re most likely to want to see first when you open the app again. Those tweets with tons of interaction or retweets etc will simply surface above the random flotsam and jetsam of the Twitterverse. The idea being that you see the best stuff first and then gradually make your way down until the regular feed appears with everything as it always was.

Twitter while you were away feed

The new feed algorithm is based on the “while you were away” feature.

How to get out of it

Refreshing the feed also makes the “best” tweets disappear so you get the familiar feed arrangement. In all honesty it’s not that big of a deal. If you don’t like it, disable it in the settings. But chances are that once you try it and realize you’re getting all of the best tweets first without having to swipe down for ages, you’ll probably end up liking it better.

To enable the feature now, go to your timeline and head to the settings, then tap “Show me the best tweets first”. If you don’t, the setting will be enabled by default in the coming weeks, so if you find yourself suddenly seeing better tweets and absolutely hating it, you can follow the same path and disable the setting the same way. With any luck, Rob Lowe will remain on Twitter for years to come.

What do you think of the idea? Is it really that bad?