YouTube Testing Non-Chronological Video Order in Subscription Feeds for Some Users

Following in the footsteps of companies like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, YouTube this week confirmed that it is “experimenting” with a way to organize its users Subscription Feeds that removes reverse chronological order and uses algorithms to “personalize” the video order. The news came from the @TeamYouTube Twitter account after it responded to a disgruntled user (via iGeneration).


YouTube’s Subscription Feed traditionally begins with a “Today” banner, presenting users with a reverse chronological list of every video that has been posted by the YouTubers they subscribe to, going back to “Yesterday,” “This Week,” “This Month,” etc. For those in the experiment, this order is replaced with what Team YouTube calls a “personalized order,” which appears to use a viewer’s watch history and other factors to recommend videos from their subscriptions that the company thinks the user will want to watch.

YouTube already presents “Recommended” videos on its homepage and in the sidebar of other videos, leading many YouTubers to respond negatively to the change of the last chronological list of videos that could be found on the service. It’s unclear what platforms the experiment is currently taking place on, but if it launches for all users it would likely affect YouTube across mobile, desktop, TV, and more.

Using algorithms to surface content has long been popular among social media networks. Facebook’s News Feed has done this for years, and Instagram followed in March 2016 stating that as it’s grown its users “often don’t see the posts [they] might care about the most,” although the company has made slight tweaks to the algorithms since then. For its part, Twitter as a whole still shows tweets from new to old, but it does choose to surface non-chronological content with features like “In case you missed it,” displaying followers’ liked tweets among your own, ads, and more.


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