By JOANNA STERN
Twitter made some updates on Wednesday to its apps and its website, as it does from time to time. The biggest change was intended to make it easier to keep up with conversations on the social network. In its iOS, Android and web applications it began grouping conversations together with a blue line linking them all together.
"We've now made it easier for you to see conversations as they're taking place," Twitter's Jinen Kamdar wrote in a company blog post announcing the new feature. "Tweets that are part of a conversation are shown in chronological order so it's easier for you to follow along."
Twitter explains the feature here here -- simply, you will see a line connecting two people you follow who are in a conversation. If you click further, you will see all those involved in the conversation.
The feature is fairly straightforward (yes, like the line), yet has also become quite controversial. After rolling out on Wednesday afternoon, the Twitter community -- sometimes referred to as the Twitterverse -- made their feelings known, especially their dislike for the new line.
Do a search for "Twitter Blue Line" through Twitter itself and you'll see a smattering of negative responses. "What's all this blue line bulls**t on my twitter feed? I don't like it," @elgingari10 tweeted. "Twitter's blue line makes me feel like the person above is peeing on the person below," @asfand expressed. "Am I the only one who finds this Twitter blue line terribly annoying? So irritating," @sunandavashisht fired off.
The technology media also hasn't looked kindly on the update. "Learning to Live with Terrible New Twitter," The Atlantic's headline reads. "Twitter Timeline Conversations Have a Terrible New Look," Complex.com wrote.
Of course, complaining about changes to services is what the Internet does best, but with Twitter, which has remained a relatively simple service with few added bells and whistles, it is uncharted territory. We expect complaints when Facebook makes a change, but Twitter?
Twitter declined to comment on the backlash, but experts say this is something that Twitter users should start to expect as the company grows and looks ahead to its initial public offering (IPO) sometime this year or next.
"Twitter is setting the stage to take the company public. Investors expect a return. Employees expect earnout. To do so, Twitter will need to make engagement more intuitive for the masses," Brian Solis, a principal analyst at Altimeter Group, told ABC News. "Tweets have been asynchronous to date. Adding a conversation feature does just that, promote conversations beyond one-off tweets."
Both Solis and Brian Blau, a research director at Gartner, believe users will have to get used to more change, though Blau thinks Twitter will continue to focus on simplicity as it continues to expand.
"Twitter is going to continue to expand but they have a solid focus on simplicity, adding small features and functions that add value to the tweet," Blau said.
Of course, at the end of the day it is just a blue line, but as Solis said, "As for pushback, we'll have to get used to it. Twitter is headed from Main St. to Wall St. sooner than later."
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