Social media apps always find a way to do the exact opposite of what everyone wants, don’t they? That’s certainly the case with Twitter, which has displayed a curated timeline of tweets for years.
Thankfully, though, you can now switch back to a chronological timeline on Twitter, which means you’ll see every tweet from the people you follow. Here’s how to switch, and a comparison of the two options…
The Different Twitter Timelines Explained
If you’re not sure what’s up, here’s a brief rundown. On Twitter, you follow accounts that you’re interested in to subscribe to their posts. Your Home page, also known as your Timeline, collects all tweets from those you follow.
When Twitter was new, your timeline displayed all tweets in chronological order. That meant that no matter when you opened Twitter, you could be sure you were seeing the newest tweets at the top of your feed, and older ones as you continued to scroll down.
However, around 2016, Twitter switched everyone to a curated timeline. This relies on various algorithms to determine the tweets you’re “likely to care about most” and shows them first in your feed. This completely threw out the chronological timeline in favor of whatever Twitter thought you’d want to see.
Twitter used to offer an option labeled Show the best Tweets first that was enabled by default. While unchecking this does remove some of the effects of the Twitter algorithm on your timeline, it was never a true chronological option.
However, now you can switch between seeing chronological and curated timelines on Twitter’s mobile apps at will. Here’s how…
How to Switch Between Timelines on Twitter
Follow these steps to swap timeline modes on the Twitter app for Android or iOS. The process is identical on both platforms, and also works on the new Twitter.com
- Open the Twitter app and switch to the Home tab (the birdhouse in the bottom-left).
- Tap the Sparkle icon in the top-right of the app. You’ll see Home shows you top Tweets first if you’re using the curated timeline.
- Tap See latest Tweets instead and your timeline will immediately switch to the chronological mode instead. You’ll see the header change to Latest Tweets to reflect this.
- To switch back later, tap the same Sparkle icon and choose Go back Home. You’ll then be back to seeing “top tweets” first.
If you don’t see the Sparkle icon, your Twitter app is probably not updated. Head to the App Store or Google Play and download the latest version, then try again.
In case you still don’t see it, sit tight for a few days; the latest version should roll out to you soon.
The Pros and Cons of Each Twitter Timeline
Now that you know how to switch Twitter timeline modes, which one should you actually use? That depends on your preferences.
Many heavy Twitter fans have called for the return of the chronological timeline for some time. But if you’re a casual Twitter user, you might not even have known you were seeing curated tweets. So let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each option.
The Chronological Twitter Timeline
Many argue that the chronological timeline is the proper way to experience Twitter. After all, you follow accounts to see what they tweet, and you don’t want an algorithm getting in the way of that.
Also, seeing the newest tweets first can help you stay on top of what’s going on. When following breaking news, a live sporting event, or similar, seeing up-to-the-second content is important.
The chronological timeline is consistent. No matter when you open Twitter—whether it has been five minutes or five days since you refreshed—you know you’ll see the most recent content first.
When Twitter keeps switching my chronological timeline to an algorithmic view pic.twitter.com/Pdot8e76G0
— Doctor Popular (@DocPop) January 17, 2019
On the downside, using the chronological timeline requires you to check Twitter regularly if you want to avoid missing anything. If you didn’t see a tweet from your favorite account that’s two days old, going back to find it would take forever.
Another potential drawback is that when you see the latest tweets first, you’re more susceptible to overload from one account. If someone you follow is live-tweeting an event you don’t care about, seeing new tweets from them every 10 seconds will quickly get old.
The Curated Twitter Timeline
Why would anyone still want to use the curated Twitter timeline when we finally have the chronological option back? While power users may scoff at it, it’s actually not a terrible tool for those who only use Twitter casually. Curation acts as a kind of “best of” roundup so you don’t miss anything from the accounts you like the most.
Of course, an obvious problem with this is that Twitter can be incorrect when it guesses the accounts you care about. The company says that “Top Tweets are ones you are likely to care about most, and we choose them based on accounts you interact with most, Tweets you engage with, and much more.” If you don’t care about the top tweets it shows you, then you could miss the tweets you actually do want to see.
Another major downside to the curated timeline is that it adds a bunch of junk to your feed. In chronological view, you’ll pretty much only see tweets and retweets from those you follow and promoted tweets (ads). But the algorithmic timeline shows tweets that others have liked, an In case you missed it section, and accounts that others in your network follow.
If you don’t want to see a bunch of tweets from accounts you don’t follow (which most people don’t), then you should avoid the curated timeline.
Don’t Forget About Lists
While contemplating this decision, you should remember one solution that’s often overlooked: Twitter lists.
Lists allow you to build a custom group of accounts, even if you’re not following them. You might have one list for musicians you like, another list full of news accounts, and keep a list of the most popular Twitter accounts, etc. These lists aren’t susceptible to any curation.
By opening a list, you can browse all the tweets from the accounts in that list. This gives you more control over the tweets you see, and lets you separate out your browsing. For instance, you could keep up with your favorite sports accounts during a big game.
Creating a list of your favorite Twitter accounts lets you check only their tweets. With a small pool of accounts, you’re less likely to miss something important. Check out our recommendations of Twitter tools to manage your feed if you want to go further.
Choosing the Best Timeline for You
Assuming you’ve read this article properly you should now know the differences between Twitter’s curated timeline and Twitter’s chronological timeline. Which you use depends on what you like best about Twitter.
If you trust the company to pick up on your favorites and just want to see the highlights, stick with the algorithmic option. But if you don’t want Twitter meddling with the accounts you’ve chosen to follow, the chronological timeline is best.
Overwhelmed by all this discussion? We’ll help you get a grasp with our complete guide to using Twitter.