New experiments at Twitter show it’s trying to further establish itself as the go-to news app for its users around the world. Today, the company announced its testing a way for you to follow specific interests, such as sports teams and celebrities.
Once you choose these topics, Twitter’s machine learning algorithm will curate tweets for you and show it on your timeline. Right now, the company’s testing this on Android with a select number of users and only sports-based interests.
With this, Twitter wants to make it easier for you to follow your interests, and receive updates on those topics without having to switch to the Discover tab to skim through the news.
What’s more, the company recently introduced a feature to subscribe to a conversation so you can get alerts when important replies come in.. This is pretty useful when a person’s giving a live rundown of an event from a particular place.
You probably have notifications on for your must-follows. Now you can get notifications when there’s a new reply to a Tweet you’re interested in! We’re testing this on iOS and Android now. pic.twitter.com/MabdFoItxc
— Twitter (@Twitter) August 8, 2019
In June, the company brought lists to the home screen in a test, so you can swipe between your lists and browse multiple timelines. This feature has been present in apps like third-party Twitter apps like Hootsuite, but it was hard to even find lists until recently. It gives you an opportunity to create multiple news feeds as you would with an RSS reader, so you can follow different interests.
For the longest time, Twitter has maintained a live feed without allowing much customization. Its algorithmic timeline feature was criticized worldwide, and it soon relented and enabled the option to switch to a chronological feed.
During the company’s earnings call for Q2 2019, CEO Jack Dorsey said it’s important to help people learn about what’s unfolding in their countries:
We do see, obviously, a lot of conversation around news and politics around the Democratic debates, and we believe that Twitter has an important role to carry these conversations and to help people learn about what’s unfolding within all of their countries. So, we want to make sure that we are present and we’re organizing the conversation in a way that people can learn from immediately.
Given the past year’s events, Facebook’s value as a news source has decreased drastically. Twitter has an opportunity here to take over as a popular source for news online.