Stories

Twitter's plans: Follow topics, edit tweets someday

Photo: ALASTAIR PIKE/AFP/Getty Images)

Twitter revealed on Tuesday in a gathering with journalists that’s it’s planning to roll out a feature that lets users follow specific topics on the service. The social network is testing a bevy of new features like conversation moderation, search for private messages, and more.

Yes, but: The company also used the event to discuss some of its work and processes in areas like user safety, “health” of the service, and security — areas in which Twitter has been heavily criticized for failing to take swift or clear action to solve problems.

Some highlights:

  • Twitter conversations: Along with experimenting with threading conversation replies, the company is also “re-energizing [its] investment in DMs,” said product management director Sara Haider, which will include an upcoming search function for direct messages.
  • User control: The company is testing various ways to let users exert more control over their experience of the service. For example, in Canada it’s testing the ability for users to moderate replies to their tweets by downgrading certain responses.
  • Content moderation: Twitter now has nearly 1,500 employees focused on moderation and responding to content reports, who are now spread across 9 locations around the world (up from 2 locations a year ago, according to Twitter Service vice president Donald Hicks).
  • Trust and safety vice president Del Harvey also confirmed that the company has yet to use its new “public interest interstitial” label created for cases in which a it doesn’t take down content from a public figure that violates its rules.
  • Edit button: “It’s a feature that we should build at some point but it’s not anywhere near the top of our priorities,” said product chief Kayvon Beykpour, adding that Twitter should find a way to help people fix typos, or clarify what they said, though there are obvious risks that such a feature could be abused.
  • Interest topics: Beykpour said there will be topics that Twitter will bar from emerging as ones users could follow, though he didn’t use any specifics or examples (he was prompted by a reporter’s question about topics like anti-vaccination).
  • Vine: “I do regret that we shut down Vine,” said Beykpour, adding his regret has nothing to do with Chinese short-video app TikTok’s growing popularity. “I think Vine was really amazing and was on the forefront of giving people tools to experiment with video.”