Twitter is fine-tuning your tweet replies on its mobile apps in order to surface what it terms “better content.”
The company’s support page lists its updates to conversations, which include direct reply counts and conversation ranking. The former is pretty straightforward and actually seems like a handy new feature. Essentially, Twitter will count the amount of replies a tweet has received in the same way it tallies retweets and likes.
Twitter is all about interaction, so a reply count (which will appear next to the reply arrow icon) is a useful way to pinpoint a tweet that is fueling conversations. Twitter will likely be hoping the feature encourages people to engage with more tweets. It is important to note that the direct reply count does not indicate the number of replies in the entire conversation.
Conversation ranking, on the other hand, could be a tad bit problematic. Although the feature has been available on the desktop version of Twitter for over a year, it is making its debut on the Twitter mobile app. Now, when you click to expand a tweet, you may notice that the replies are not showing in a chronological order. Instead, Twitter will show different users different subgroups of conversations relating to a particular tweet. These will be ordered based on your activity (for example, you may see a reply from a person you follow higher up in the ranking), or if the original tweet author has replied.
The move brings to mind Twitter’s launch of an algorithmic timeline in February. Much to the dismay of its hardcore users, the move saw Twitter introduce an optional update that ranked recent tweets in your timeline based on relevance. Once enabled, the algorithm basically shows you tweets it thinks you’ll care about higher up than others when you log in to the platform. The outcry caused by the update’s announcement prompted CEO Jack Dorsey to assure users Twitter wasn’t butchering a core element of the service they love.
Seeing as conversation ranking didn’t cause a backlash on the desktop version, chances are it won’t cause too much distress to Twitter fans on mobile either.