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Turn Off Twitter's Algorithm And You'll Still Be Stuck With Old Tweets

Opting out of Twitter's algorithm removes some old tweets from your timeline, but not all of them.

Posted on December 29, 2017, at 2:22 p.m. ET

Twitter

When Twitter debuted its timeline algorithm in February 2016 — which inserts older tweets into your timeline that Twitter thinks you'll like — it promised users the feature would be optional, telling them they could "easily turn it off in settings."

But nearly two years later, it's still impossible to get old tweets off the top of your timeline.

Here's why: While Twitter built an opt-out toggle — available in settings under "Show the best Tweets first" — you'll still see plenty of old tweets in the "In case you missed it" box, which you cannot turn off. Also, old tweets still appear at the top of your timeline when people you follow like them.

In addition to being unpopular with some users, the insertion of old tweets into a timeline can disrupt the fast flow of information that makes Twitter a critical tool during breaking news events and disasters.

Examples of algorithmically inserted tweets that still show up even when "show the best tweets first" is turned off.
Twitter

Examples of algorithmically inserted tweets that still show up even when "show the best tweets first" is turned off.

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment. It has previously stated its new timeline algorithm is working, citing it as a reason for revenue and engagement growth, and noting that less than 2% of people have opted out.

Still, there's a vocal group of Twitter users who prefer to see the newest tweets up top, and can't stand the fact that Twitter won't let them ignore outdated but popular tweets.

Twitter
Twitter
Twitter

BuzzFeed News was alerted to this frustration after publishing a story about an algorithm test that inserted very old tweets into people's timelines. That story noted the existence of an opt-out option, but users responded saying they'd ticked it off with no success.

Twitter
Twitter

Twitter says little about how frequently it inserts algorithmically selected tweets into its timeline, making it difficult to determine if these features are appearing more often.

Twitter

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