21st February 2020

POV: Twitter Updates

Background:

Twitter has announced multiple updates this week including the acquisition of Chroma Labs – a social media start-up, the roll-out of a 'Continue thread' feature and tests around misinformation warnings.

Details and Implications:

Chroma Labs acquisition: Twitter has acquired Chroma Labs, the Stories photo and video editing start-up co-founded by ex-Facebook and Instagram employees. It has been seen as a sign that it could be working on its own Stories feature or adding more visual options for users to enhance their tweets. Chroma’s app allows users to edit pictures and videos specifically for sharing on Stories features found on Instagram, Snapchat and other platforms. Following the acquisition, Chroma will shut down its current business and future versions of the app will not be available. The company hasn’t confirmed it is working on a Stories-like feature for Twitter but rather said the Chroma staff would be joining its “Conversations Division” with Twitter’s head of product tweeting that the Chroma team will “join our product, design and engineering teams working to give people more creative ways to express themselves on Twitter”.

Continue thread’ roll-out: This week Twitter also announced it is rolling out a new feature for mobile users that will make it easier to thread multiple tweets together enabling users to create topic threads and connect new tweets to previous ones. The feature lets you pull down as you’re composing a tweet to add to a previously posted tweet and create a thread or continue a thread. The new tweet will then become part of the original thread. This follows on from a 2017 update that allowed users to send out an entire thread of tweets all at once.

Twitter testing misinformation warnings: According to NBC News, Twitter is testing new ways to warn users of misinformation posted by politicians and public figures. The experimental feature would rely on community reporting to monitor content. It will display large, brightly colored labels directly below tweets flagged by fact-checkers, journalists and potentially other users as likely to be "harmfully misleading". In one version of the demo, Twitter users could earn "points" and a "community badge" if they "contribute in good faith and act like a good neighbour" and "provide critical context to help people understand information they see."

A Twitter spokesperson said that the platform was exploring ways to address misinformation and provide more context for tweets on Twitter. “Misinformation is a critical issue and we will be testing many different ways to address it." Last month, Twitter announced a policy to ban tweets that deceptively share synthetic or manipulated media that are likely to cause harm, such as deep fakes.

Summary:

This latest experiment suggests that Twitter is continuing to take cues from Wikipedia, Reddit and other online platforms where users play a significant role in moderating content. These updates also suggest that Twitter is making content more engaging for users, which could impact the way advertisers engage audiences on Twitter in future.

Further Reading:

TechCrunch | Social Media Today | 9T05Mac | The Verge | Business Insider | NBC

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