[UPDATE: Twitter confirms] Twitter to Soon Allow Users to Start Following Topics


[UPDATE] Twitter has confirmed they have started experimenting with Topics that which is similar to following an account, except that instead of seeing Tweets from an account, people see Tweets about a topic.

On last night event with journalists, Twitter announced it will start letting users follow topics based on their interests. The tweets about the chosen topics will appear on their timelines.

Topics could range from television shows, celebrities and sports teams so they’ll be no need to follow specific accounts to have their tweets displayed on your timeline.

How it will work

Twitter will curate the topics using machine learning rather than editorial curation to identify the individual tweets to insert in the users’ timeline. Rob Bishop, Product Manager at Twitter said that they’re testing this new feature on its Android app with sports-related interests but this raises new or rather the same concerns of having a filter bubble.

Twitter’s argument for machine learning is that human curation would be too slow to curate tweets around these topics.

Twitter is starting off with sports topics like Formula 1 and the MMMA.

According to Twitter’s product lead, the company isn’t planning to create topics for every user’s interest and that some topics would be excluded fearing that this feature could be abused and lead to amplification of really bad stuff.

However, not everyone is sceptical. Other people think that this new feature would help improve the user experience for onboarding new users.

Twitter is currently creating a whitelist of approved topics from where tweets will be curated.

Worth noting is that you’ll also be able to mute topics in your main timeline but create a secondary timeline that will have multiple topics, accounts and hashtags.

No edit button

Twitter said that users shouldn’t expect the edit button to be launched in the near future as it is not high on their priority list and I agree – there are more issues that they need to work on.

“Honestly, it’s a feature that I think we should build at some point, but it’s not anywhere near the top of our priorities. That’s the honest answer,” Kayvon Beykpour, Twitter Product Lead said.

Twitter also announced how they want to improve its product for international markets and fix the abuse and harassment problems plaguing the platform.

“It is imperative that we increase the health of the public conversation,” Beykpour said

Vine was really amazing

Kayvon Beykpour added that he was sad that Twitter shut down Vine in early 2017 but cites the state of Twitter at that time was a factor.

Other features announced include:

  • Twitter is working on bringing search feature to DMs
  • The ability to now reorder photos in a new tweet after you’ve attached them.
  • Support for Apple’s Live Photos

It is still unclear if this feature will be rolled out globally. Anyway, I’m on board with this.

Keep up with everything Twitter here.


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