#RIPTwitter

The site is changing your timeline and people are livid


Seeing that #RIPTwitter is trending on Twitter is jarring. This morning, that hashtag was trending on the site.

Obviously, the social network is very much alive: indeed, it is febrile with the anger of thousands of Twitter users complaining about alleged plans to restructure your timeline according to an algorithm. The timeline is currently ordered by chronology, though it is suggested that the change might be rolled out as early as next week. It is not known whether the change will be optional.

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Many Twitter users were, predictably, furious. Some users scoffed that Twitter was panicking in the face of its cheapish stock price and had lost it altogether. Others fretted the algorithm would be unsophisticated or throw up the equivalent of Tinder bros using stock images of body builders, the sort of “selection” that makes you wonder what you’ve done to deserve it. Some said it was going to end up like Facebook. Others were sceptical about whether it would happen at all.

Many journalists complained that it would make it nearly impossible to sift through the echoing chorus and find breaking news. And a lot of people pointed out that following people – and unfollowing them, or muting them – is like a crude, bespoke algorithm – and they’d rather keep it that way.

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey hasn’t said anything publicly about the change, although a senior software engineer, Brandon Carpenter was frustrated by the outcry. A few hours after tweeting the below, he tweeted again, bemused: “Wow, people on Twitter are mean”.

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Mostly, though, we’re confused. We feel betrayed when things change, but more broadly, we like technology when it advances and makes our lives better. We don’t really know what this will do yet, so resistance to change is our way of asserting power in the face of the machines. #RIPTwitter or a storm in an echo chamber?