Twitter CEO Jack's off to the settings page, adds robot-sorted tweets

Meanwhile, biz slams $521m into the red. Yeouch!

It's official – Twitter is slightly moving away from being a hosepipe of real-time wittering.

It will use an algorithm to sort tweets into some arbitrary order. However, twits will still be able to sort tweets by time and date as per normal, so there's no need to panic.

Rumors of the switch to robot-promoted-tweets have had the Twittersphere up in arms and using the #RIPTwitter hashtag in protest. CEO Jack Dorsey this week denied a total shift in tweet sorting, and he was telling the truth.

"Here's how it works. You flip on the feature in your settings; then when you open Twitter after being away for a while, the Tweets you're most likely to care about will appear at the top of your timeline – still recent and in reverse chronological order," said Mike Jahr, senior engineering manager at Twitter, earlier today.

"The rest of the Tweets will be displayed right underneath, also in reverse chronological order, as always. At any point, just pull-to-refresh to see all new Tweets at the top in the live, up-to-the-second experience you already know and love."

Jahr said that in testing, the new system encouraged more tweets and retweets. The San Francisco upstart is still experimenting with how it will work. Users will get a notification on their timeline as the new system is rolled out in the next few weeks.

So it's basically an expansion of the "While You Were Away" feature that Twitter rolled out last year, with the option to go back to the raw data stream Twitter has always been. That's certainly a lot better than Facebook's algorithmically sorted news feed, but may not make hardcore Twitter users happy.

Shares in the company, while still well below the $26 IPO price, rose sightly during trading today. ®

Stop press: This afternoon, Twitter revealed its Q4 2015 financial figures [PDF] showing that it had 320 million monthly active users in the final quarter of the year. That's up nine per cent year on year, but flat sequentially, suggesting stalled growth – a big worry for investors. If you ignore SMS-based users, who don't see any ads, that figure drops to 305 million, down two million from the previous quarter. Oops.

Twitter's revenue for the full year was $2.2bn, up 57 per cent from 2014. The website made a net loss of $521m in 2015, slightly better than the previous year's $577m loss.

In the final quarter of 2015, Twitter booked sales totaling $710m, up 48 per cent on the year-ago period, but made a net loss of $90m, which is better than Q4 2014's $125m loss. The company's stock price was down 1.47 per cent in after-hours trading.

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