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This article was published on February 14, 2013

Twitter adds language info, ability to filter tweets by ‘importance’ with new API metadata

Twitter adds language info, ability to filter tweets by ‘importance’ with new API metadata

Twitter will introduce two new interesting bits of metadata to its Twitter API soon, it announced today. One will allow developers to identify the language that a tweet was sent in, which will be helpful for filtering and translation.

The other, and more interesting one, will allow developers to identify what Twitter feels are ‘high value’ tweets. Then, apps that work around surfacing important content that a user wants to see, or delivering relevant and high-quality search results, can tap into this rating to surface ‘better’ stuff.

The rating, which only applies to the streaming API, is called ‘filter_level’ and can be set to none, low, medium or high by whatever algorithm Twitter is using to do that. Most likely a combination of shares, views, engagement numbers and so forth.


This means that an app can peep at the value in a tweet and surface it, ostensibly providing the user with ‘better’ content. It seems likely that this is a replacement for @toptweets and will likely be used in Twitter’s Discover tab as well.

It’s unclear whether Twitter’s own apps will begin using the filter metadata to only display tweets of a higher ‘filter level’, but it seems tailor-made for the Discover tab at least. Yes, it’s only available in the streaming API externally, but Twitter can use it wherever it wants. Who knows, perhaps one day the default Twitter view will not be a continuous chronological stream, but one ordered by value or importance, packed with rich media for you to peruse.

And, at this point, we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge that adding the ability to filter tweets at the client (or service) end does add some interesting monetization possibilities. Twitter is, for now, reserving the ‘high’ designation for later. What if the ‘high’ note was reserved for promoted or ‘important according to Twitter’ tweets?

Image Credit: MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images

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