How to Use Twitter's Algorithmic Timeline

Learn how it works, plus how to turn it on or off

Twitter feed
Twitter Feed.

Matt Cardy / Getty Images

When Twitter first launched, reading its timeline was a fairly simple, easy-to-understand experience. Back then, the timeline showed you every tweet and retweet from the accounts you followed in chronological order. That was it.

Twitter has since implemented an algorithm and several system-wide features that changed the order in which you see tweets. It also added several new aspects, changing the social media platform significantly. We go over the changes and show you how to manage your Twitter timeline effectively.

What's Changed?

Here are the main changes Twitter has made to its timeline since launch:

  • Non-Chronological Timeline: Twitter now shows users tweets in order of how important its system thinks they are to you. Basically, if you like a lot of tweets from a specific account, Twitter shows you more tweets from them regardless of when they tweeted them.
  • "In case you missed it" Tweets: When you open Twitter after being away for a few hours, you may be greeted with a collection of popular tweets from people you follow grouped together under the phrase, "In case you missed it."
  • Liked By Tweets: Twitter displays tweets people you follow have liked.
  • Twitter Conversations: Originally, Twitter would display @ replies to tweets on their own in your timeline. Now an @ reply also includes a couple of the previous tweets in the conversation regardless of how long ago they were posted.
  • Tweets From Strangers: Occasionally, Twitter shows you tweets in your timeline from accounts you don't follow, but its algorithm thinks you may enjoy based on your activity. For example, if you like or retweet tweets about anime, Twitter may recommend some popular anime accounts to follow.
  • Promoted Tweets: Your Twitter timeline features tweets that were paid to be promoted by companies or individuals.

How to Turn on the Twitter Chronological Timeline

There's an option that allows you to turn off the algorithm that displays tweets in your timeline out of order and let you sort tweets by time posted. While this brings back your chronological timeline, you still see "In case you missed it," promoted tweets, liked tweets, and conversation threads. After logging in on the Twitter website, select the icon that looks like a bunch of stars. It's at the top of your feed. Then, select See latest tweets instead.

You can find Twitter's chronological timeline by clicking the stars icon at the top of your feed

Twitter reverts back to the algorithmic timeline after you're away for a while. You need to perform the above steps again to see the chronological timeline.

How to Get Rid of Promoted, Liked, and Recommended Tweets

If you want to get rid of Twitter's promoted tweets, random tweets liked by people you follow, conversation threads, "In case you missed it," and account recommendations, a feature you should check out is Twitter lists. They are collections of accounts you can manually add to whenever you like. When viewing a list, every tweet from the added accounts is shown chronologically and without any of the features mentioned above. Here's how to create one:

  1. Select Lists. You can find it in the sidebar to the left of your feed.

    Mobile Twitter users may need to swipe right to reveal the sidebar menu.

  2. Select the Create icon. It looks like a paper with a plus sign.

    Creating Twitter lists is a good way of weeding out spammy tweets
  3. Give your new list a name and description. You can also choose to make it private. When you're done, select Next.

    You can give a new Twitter list a name and description
  4. Select Twitter accounts to add to your list. Twitter offers some suggestions, or you can use the search bar to locate people.

    You can add many people to your Twitter lists
  5. Select Done to save your list.