New browser extension Latest Tweets First forces Twitter to work the way you want it to


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Twitter recently rolled out a redesign of its website for desktop users that went beyond making questionably useful changes to the user interface – it also changed some important parts of the user experience.

But those accessing Twitter on the desktop using Chrome and willing to try a new addon are now in luck, as “Latest Tweets First” does what it says on the box: forces Twitter to show you the latest tweets from those you follow first, and keeps it that way.

Algorithmically deciding which tweets are most relevant to you is old news on Twitter: the feature was introduced several years ago, replacing the reverse chronological order, that showed the latest tweets at the top of the timeline page.

The company has been defending the decision as bringing it “more engagement and conversations” from users.

But after some to-and-fro with dissatisfied users, last year Twitter introduced a toggle button to switch between the two ways of sorting tweets in the timeline (“home” page).

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Worth mentioning is that toggling between the Twitter-determined and the chronological timeline is achieved via a counter-intuitively designed “sparkle” button.

Twitter's algorithm, meanwhile, makes its decisions on what you should see based on a variety of “signals” you give the social media giant. Of course, the biggest and most obvious signal should be the accounts you choose to follow – and many think that Twitter should just give them the latest tweets from these sources, and end its interference in their user experience right there.

But the company prefers to let its machines guess what you care about most, what interests you most, who you appear to be interacting with most, and so on. Also, Twitter will sneak in promoted tweets and retweets into your timeline, along with posts from people you don't even follow.

This often results in an irrelevant hot mess of tweets, making some users skip exploring their timelines completely.

What has changed with the latest redesign is that opting out of this curated and controlled timeline sorting is not permanent – in fact, it's short-lived and will eventually revert to the “top tweets.” And that's where the Latest Tweets First addon comes in handy.

Luke Jordan, who came up with the idea for the extension, said to Reclaim The Net, “I wanted it making just for personal use. I literally never want to see the so-called ‘Top' tweets so I had the idea to change it so that I'd never see them again — on desktop at least. Whilst we were in the process of finishing the quick development, I saw at least two other people complaining about exactly the same thing so I decided to make it public and help other people out too.”

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Didi Rankovic

Didi Rankovich is an experienced online journalist, editor, and translator, with a career spanning over ten years writing for major a English-language website in Serbia, and previously working as translator for international organizations and peacekeepers in the Balkans. Rankovich is passionate about free and open source tech and is a head contributor for Reclaim The Net, focusing on lead stories. [email protected]