SAN FRANCISCO —Twitter wants to make it easier for everyone to catch up on what’s happening.
That’s the promise of a new tab called Moments that, with a single tap, reveals the best and most relevant tweets from major events, say this week’s deadly flooding in South Carolina, the train derailment in Vermont or the firing of Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin.
The content, which includes photos and videos, is collected and curated by a team of editors, so no fumbling around to figure out who or what to follow on Twitter. Moments is rolling out Tuesday in the USA on iOS, Android and desktop.
“We want to make Twitter more approachable for folks who have not found it approachable in the past,” said product manager Madhu Muthukumar. “We want to be able to help anybody, whether a Twitter user or not a Twitter user, to find really great content the second they encounter Twitter.”
With Moments, Twitter is tackling a daunting problem: with its confusing jargon and conventions, Twitter presents too steep a learning curve for many newcomers. And that has stalled user growth at the service, which has about 300 million monthly active users. That’s a fraction of giant social network Facebook’s 1.5 billion users and smaller even than Facebook-owned photo-and-video sharing service Instagram, which now has 400 million users.
Reversing sluggish growth by making Twitter more appealing to the mainstream is job No. 1 for Twitter’s new chief executive Jack Dorsey.
Dorsey, who is also a Twitter co-founder, said during the company’s second-quarter earnings call that Twitter is challenging itself to make the product “easier and more compelling to more people.”
Moments, whose code name was Project Lightning, is a bid to get Twitter in front of more people with the hope they will sign up for the service and become regulars on it. The lure: People can tune in for real-time information without having to study up on how Twitter works.
Over the years Twitter become known as a top destination to follow breaking news, kibitz about awards shows or presidential debates and take sides in the latest celebrity grudge match. But that reign is endangered by growing competition from rival services such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
Twitter has tried to suck more people in with “Trending Topics,” the now defunct Discover tab and a new feature that recaps notable stuff that happened while you were away from Twitter. But nothing has helped Twitter fully capitalize on its core strength: tapping into news or live events as they unfold.
“The trouble is that it’s hard to identify where the content is going to be without doing some work searching for the right hashtags or terms,” Muthukumar said. “It’s not for lack of interest. It’s too hard for people,”
Moments takes people out of their timelines and into a new tab that organizes tweets.
“It’s a really easy way for us to put the best Twitter content in front of people,” Muthukumar said. “This is a bridge to becoming a more regular user.”
How it works:
Tap on the lightning bolt tab on your phone and a list of Moments will pop up. You can also swipe through to topics including entertainment and sports.
When you tap on a “moment,” you’ll be taken to an introduction with a title and description. Swipe through and you will see a series of tweets including images, videos, Vines and GIFs. A single tap and you can favorite or retweet the tweet. A double tap favorites the tweet.
At the end of a “moment,” you can click the share button to tweet your thoughts or send it out to followers. Swipe up or down to dismiss it. You can also follow a moment to get updates in your timeline as they become available. And you can embed the “moment” on other websites.
Most of the “moments” are curated by Twitter, but some will come from news organizations such as Bleacher Report and Fox News or from organizations such as Major League Baseball.
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