Twitter is looking to encourage more private discussions on its service. CEO Dick Costolo would like to have a “whisper mode” that allows users to take public conversations and discuss them solely with friends, according to a video interview with Bloomberg.
While the social network is public-first, meaning content is shared with everyone by default (unlike Facebook, where friends are the default), it does have a direct message (DM) feature for one-on-one chats. This potential new feature isn’t likely to replace that, but rather allow users to pick a tweet or set of tweets and use them as a jumping-off point to start a DM conversation with one of their followers.
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Interviewer Emily Chang got the CEO talking by asking about messaging apps, and noting that Costolo has previous discussed enhancing the ability to move between public and private conversations. He then explained his vision as follows (at 8:28):
So when I talk about direct messaging within the Twitter application and the work we’ll do improve it, what I’m talking about is there are frequently public conversations on Twitter, and Twitter is entirely public conversation. It’s real time, what’s happening right now, public and conversational.
There are frequently public conversations that you would like to grab hold of and take into whisper mode with a friend and say, hey, this thing has happened. Look what these people are talking about. What do you think about this, with a friend or more than one friend. So being able to move fluidly between that public conversation and the private conversation is something we’ll make simpler.
What’s also interesting is that Costolo says “more than one friend.” While DMs have long supported one-to-one conversations, there has been much speculation that Twitter will soon enable group chats.
Chang also asked how much product experimentation Twitter is doing on a daily basis? Here’s Costolo’s answer (at 4:50):
In our latest iOS or Android apps, for example, there are well over 100 experiments running in each of those apps. So hundreds.
And the beauty of that framework that we’ve worked on over the past 18, 24 months now is the speed with which it allows to run more and more experiments and quickly get data from those experiments that we can compare to a control group and understand whether the experiment’s working or not. So the faster that we can move on those kinds of things, the faster we can execute change in the products in service to user growth
Depending on how far along in development this “whisper mode” is, some Twitter users may already be seeing it in their app. Again, it probably won’t be called that, and it’s more likely that the reference is to the next iteration of Twitter’s direct messaging, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it shows up on mobile first, and only to a select number of users.
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