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Twitter Rolls Out Algorithmic Timeline Tool

Twitter is finally announcing some long-anticipated changes — a move away from its chronological timeline to "make it easier and faster for people to catch up on what's happening right now," according to the Twitter blog announcing the launch.

Beginning today, Twitter users will have the option of turning on a tool designed to show certain tweets first, those that each user is most likely to care about according to the algorithm, based on which users people follow and whose tweets they most interact with. These popular tweets will appear at the top of the timeline, with the newest on top, then the rest of the timeline will appear as it always does, also in reverse chronological order.

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Though there was an outcry of concern earlier this week that Twitter was abandoning its unfiltered reverse-chronological feed, the company stresses that this is entirely opt-in. The company also says it is not a dramatic overhaul of the chronological feed and a shift towards an algorithmic approach, but rather an extension of the "while you were away" feature giving users an update on the

Twitter says people who have tried "Show me the best Tweets first" "tend to Retweet and Tweet move, which is good for all of us."

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The company also lays out what this could mean for brands in a post on its advertising blog, saying that when people Tweet and re-tweet more, that means brands can reach a more engaged potential audience. Tests of the product tweak yielded an "increase in engagement for brands' organic Tweets and an increase in engagement for Tweets about live events. And Twitter says Promoted Tweets and Promoted Accounts will not be affected by the change, though presumably the more people are engaged, the bigger the potential audience for ads.