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Twitter tests news reel feature

Posted on March 16, 2018

 

Social media site Twitter is currently in the process of testing a new feature that would give news articles prominence in a user’s news feed.

Twitter confirmed that it was currently testing a news highlights reel, and this change would see the biggest news stories at the time appear at the top of the timeline.

According to American online media company Buzzfeed, the feature will see Twitter’s algorithms select news items and have them appear in boxes located at the top of the timeline. By tapping a story in this news reel, users will be taken to a list of tweets and content relating to these subjects. Content in both of these sections is believed to be human curated.

The test was first spotted by Buzzfeed on Wednesday, with the news of British scientist Stephen Hawking’s death appearing as one of the breaking news stories in the news section.

According to Twitter, the test has been designed specifically to highlight the site’s focus on news and current affairs, while making this type of content easier to find within the platform. The test can be viewed as an expansion of another feature on the site – Happening Now – which is already in use on the network. This is currently focused on mostly sports-related tweets and content, but appears to be an example of Twitter making good progress on its promises to focus more on news and entertainment, as was pledged by the company on the launch of Happening Now back in October last year.

The feature is still in its testing phase and only some users of the Android and iOS versions of the app are able to access it at the moment. If the feature is deemed to be a success by the company, then it will be expanded to all users and may start to be based purely on algorithms instead of human curation.

The news comes just a week after Facebook begins testing a similar feature of its own. This has seen many recognised publishers being given a button that brands a news story as breaking news, giving the content a ‘breaking news’ badge alongside the source and the time of publication for up to six hours, for one story a day.

The microblogging nature of Twitter makes it ideal for keeping up to date with news, and if the site can showcase this as one of its strengths, it would help to boost the platform in a time when fake news is rife.

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