Twitter Adds New Context For Trending Topics
September 25, 2020
Article Overview10min read
Remember those times when you opened your Twitter account and wondered why a particular topic or hashtag was trending? Well, now you don’t have to be puzzled by it anymore. Twitter will now be adding a short description to trending topics to ensure their users know precisely why a topic is on the higher trend.
“Why Is This Trending”
Twitter trends show what everyone is talking about at the moment. They are based on an algorithm that detects spikes in the popularity of a certain topic and time taken to reach that volume for a tweet or hashtag. So, if you have seen a topic trending, it’s because of the sheer number of fellow twitter users sharing, using hashtags, and following the topic. But when a user joins that conversation late, he/she may not be aware of why a certain topic is being talked about in the first place. This leads the users to ask “Why is this trending?”
However, this question seems to be one of the most pertinent questions on the platform and Twitter itself has mentioned that this phrase was tweeted over half a million times over the last year.
Twitter Product Trust Partner, Liz Lee, and Product Manager, Frank Oppong, stated that the company has been working to give people more context on Tweet labels, accounts and curated pages (aka Moments) as well as related articles on trends. They said people should be able to immediately understand why a topic is trending and to help clarify, they have added pinned tweets and a short description to the trending topics. This will explain the actual reason behind the topic’s or hashtag’s growing popularity and would avoid an irrelevant spike in trends.
However, Twitter isn’t the only service to have had trouble with the trending section. Facebook also faced lots of criticism with its trending topic section for its role in spreading fake news and manipulating stories. In 2018, Facebook had to remove this section and instead, they launched a dedicated news tab that features stories curated by a team of human editors.
Representative Tweets and Descriptions
With the latest update, Twitter trending topics will have a representative tweet or description pinned to them as it gives users further insight on the topic. However, according to the company, only “some” trends will have a representative tweet pinned to them, not all.
A user inquired on Twitter to “Define “some” in some trends!” and the company replied that presently their systems and team would look into whether a trend could use more context. Once they are done with it, they would choose useful Tweets to pin to the Trend.
Twitter uses algorithms along with its human curation team to determine how well a tweet signifies a particular trend. The Twitter team will ensure that the representative tweet is in no way abusive, offensive, spam, or an individual trying to take undue advantage of their algorithm. Once they have identified an appropriate tweet for a particular topic, Twitter’s curation team will check its credibility in relation to the topic – that is, if the topic is both reflective of the trend and popular – before posting it.
Currently rolled out on Twitter for iOS and Android, representative tweets will be eventually added to the browser version of Twitter as well.
Along with representative tweets to trending topics, Twitter’s brief description would also help in providing a simple, uncomplicated and clearly sourced context around why a topic is trending. The descriptions for a trend will be created by the curation team at Twitter. It will be found on twitter.com and Twitter for iOS and Android.
Both Representative Tweets and Descriptions on trends will be available to users in 17 countries, including Australia, Canada, Egypt, India, Japan, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States. Twitter promises to bring more clarity to the conversation around a trending topic by adding more context to trends over time.
Twitter has known for some time now that there is a need for improvement when it comes to trends and context updates. Because, more than a social media platform, Twitter is a major source of information for users across the globe and so it is important for the company to ensure that only right and credible information travels through its platform. Although Twitter has taken many actions to control these concerns, with the representative tweets and descriptions, Twitter hopes that they could take one more small step towards providing insight and transparency by educating users on how a topic trends.