2018 in review: Twitter
Twitter has never been one to fear standing out from the crowd when it is compared to its fellow social media websites. It is an ever evolving and changing platform that continuously adds innovative and interesting features which users are asking for or can use. Twitter likes to keep things fresh, relevant and useful, so we can’t see them adding a Stories feature anytime soon, but they have made a number of exciting and interesting changes to the website throughout 2018.
Bots and Automation
Earlier this year Twitter decided to crack down on the amount of bots across the platform. The social media platform has decided to make major changes to their open and robust APIs which allow users to access the back-end interface to have bots receive data and continuously post.
The attempt to eradicate the platform of malicious or spammy bots means that bots will have to undergo comprehensive vetting processes before they can gain access to the APIs. Although, the good news is we will see the troublesome bots disappearing from our timelines we will also see the much-loved bots beginning to disappear too. Bots such as @everyword which tweets every word in the English dictionary alphabetically is just one of the bots which will be dearly missed due to this change.
Following this, Twitter then rolled out a new feature to highlight news and event stories throughout the day. They have used the explore tab as a way to do this, personalising the news included in the banner at the top of the explore page based on what breaking news is being shared and what the user would have an interest in - as well as allowing advertisers to 'take over' the tab. Under this banner is a list of topics of discussion currently in the news or being spoken about on Twitter.
Using this feature the user can scroll through tweets, articles and Twitter moments on the topic. Twitter has also rolled out a feature to send push notifications providing breaking news to their users.
Another change they made to the way in which users are using the platform is the exclusivity of the verification tick.
A blue tick next to your Twitter name once provided solid proof that a public figure or celebrity owned the account. Starting in 2017, Twitter decided a blue tick could mean more, that it wasn’t just for celebrities and public figures, instead they want people to be able to have a verified account if they are of public interest, this could be anyone from a celebrity to a journalist to a blogger. Gone are the days of verified accounts being an elite group of celebrities.
Despite Twitter not reopening public submissions for verification after this was paused in November 2017 following a host of complaints, founder Jack Dorsey revealed that he wants to "open verification to everyone". However, before this rolls out, Twitter has work to do on how this can be scalable.
Live Videos Prioritised
Following on from this, Twitter wanted to change the way in which users interact with live events on the platform. Have you ever been scrolling down Twitter, seen there is a football game on and gotten annoyed that you can’t watch it? Well now you can, Twitter are now sharing live videos on the top of the timelines of its users for major events such as NFL games. These videos can only be published by big brands and accounts in order to be pushed by Twitter at the top of timelines. If you are watching the live video on your Twitter app you have the opportunity to view both the video and the stream of tweets using the arranged hashtag in order to keep up with conversations.
Switch off the Algorithm
That wasn’t the only change Twitter made to the timeline. Following the lead of social platforms like Instagram, Twitter decided to change the algorithm and the way users consumer content on the platform. They added sections such as “what you have missed” in order to promote high profile tweets and “liked by” to allow users to see what their fellow followers are enjoying on the platform. If these features have been frustrating you then you’ll be happy to know they have now released a way to reverse the algorithm on your own account. By turning off “show the best tweets first” your timeline goes back to displaying your timeline in chronological order.
Third Parties and Auto-Refreshing Timeline
But, sadly, if you are viewing your timeline from a third party app then, you are still at a loss. If you know Twitter and read about the platform regularly you may well be aware they are not a fan of third party apps and websites being able to have an auto-refreshing timeline that mirrors that of the user’s Twitter timeline. While changing and securing the platform’s APIs they also put an end to third party apps using this feature. This means apps such as Twitterrific, Talon and Tweetings are no longer able to send push notifications to users about their Twitter accounts nor can they provide a look into the user’s live Twitter timeline.