Since its inception, Twitter has been one of the most exciting ways to deliver and read the news. But for Twitter’s 316 million active monthly users, it can be a challenge to know exactly who to follow to get this news, especially as live events unfold.
That’s why Twitter just unveiled Moments, a feature that allows users to follow along with breaking news, TV shows, sports and other entertainment via a collection of curated tweets and multimedia.
Using Moments is easy. Users simply tap the new lightning bolt icon in Twitter’s mobile app or desktop site to view a list of current Moments. When you tap on a Moment, you’ll get a full-screen experience of the event, complete with videos, Vines and GIFs.
Previously, users who wanted to follow along with stories had to constantly refresh a hashtag or follow individual accounts. The new feature gives users the option to "follow" certain Moments - namely live events - by inserting a collection of tweets directly into the user’s feed. When the event ends, these tweets will disappear.
Moments are shareable outside Twitter and can even be embedded, making it possible to integrate them into news articles. Cory Haik, executive director for emerging news products at The Washington Post, told Nieman Lab that Moments will make it easier for journalists to collect and organize their reporting in one place. It can also be a useful tool for reporters in the field who are covering breaking news events in real-time, she said.
“It’s the first thing I’ve seen in awhile that is straight-up storytelling for pieces on mobile and social,” Haik said.
This is a big deal for Twitter. For the first time, you will be able to follow interests/stories/events instead of people.— Erick Schonfeld (@erickschonfeld) October 6, 2015
Currently, Moments is only available to U.S. users and can only be viewed by non-U.S. users with a Moments link. Twitter’s staff will manually curate most Moments, but partners like The Washington Post, BuzzFeed, Mashable and The New York Times will also have access to the new tool. Currently, individual Twitter users cannot create Moments.
The power to curate news events on Moments belongs solely to Twitter staff and a select few news organizations, which sets Twitter up to be a gatekeeper of news on its platform. Using Moments, Twitter’s staff gets to decide what — or who — is newsworthy and what isn’t. Mindful of the potential conflict of interest, Twitter created guidelines and principles for staff members responsible for curating Moment content.
Staffers will select Moments based on “what best serves our audience, and not to benefit advertisers, partners or Twitter’s business interests,” the policy reads.
The policy also states its Moments curators are not “reporters or creators of original content,” but are still held to standards of bias and accuracy, noting that “individual Moments should be free from bias.”
“When dealing with news or newsworthy content, we want to highlight quality Tweets that represent accurate information,” Twitter’s Moments guidelines state. “If we ever highlight content that turns out to be inaccurate, we will retract it and issue a correction in a Tweet."