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Twitter wakes from its slumber

Owen Williams says after years of little activity Twitter has woken from its slumbers and is making “meaningful changes” again.

It’s a positive view from Williams who confesses to being a Twitter loyalist.

He writes a quick summary of the recent changes:

First, Twitter launched Spaces, which allows people to host an audio room and have an actual conversation with their followers.

In other words a Clubhouse knock-off. Clubhouse was a hit when the pandemic first sent people into lockdown. Lately it has a run-down, tumbleweed rolling down main street feel.

Then there were Super Follows, which allow Twitter users to offer a paid version of their tweets and actually make money on the platform.

Another feature, Communities, offers a way to create entire timelines around topics that can only be seen by those that are part of the community, similar to a Facebook group.

There’s also Twitter Blue, the company’s new paid subscription service that provides additional premium features such as an ‘undo tweet’ timer, custom app icons, and even ad-free article access for subscribers.

Put that way, it is a lot of change in a short period following a long period  when little happened.

Williams writes about his experience with Twitter Blue. He sees it as having potential.

I’m less positive about that move. The Twitter Blue $5 a month subscription isn’t a lot of money for people with decent incomes. It’s the price of a cup of coffee.

Yet I see more benefit in a cup of coffee than in Blue. Twitter could have bundled more functionality into that subscription.

The most important point from Williams’ (and my) point of view is that Twitter has opened the API to developers once more. In recent years it has been a largely closed system.

Back in the day there were many innovative products and services built off the back of Twitter which made it a much fuller and more valuable service.

Twitter is still weak when it comes to closing down offensive and violent material. But that appears to be improving even though there’s a lot of collateral damage to more innocent material along the way.

The most necessary change would be to defang the armies of bots that weaponise the social media service to spread misinformation, threats and fear. Like Facebook, it could do with more reliance on human editors to spot the worst offenders.

10 best Twitter practices for Twitter for journalists

Writing at Reportr.net Alfred Hermida says most journalists approach Web 2.0 services like Twitter with a Web 1.0 mindset. He’s right, many media organisations insist their reporters use Twitter as a broadcast media and not for dialogue.

Hermida, a journalism professor, looks at a list of best practices guidelines for journalists using Twitter. Top of the list are two I consider the most important:

  • Have a voice that is credible and reliable, but also personal and human
  • Be generous in retweets and credit others

Too often media tweeters come across as cold and impersonal. In some cases the Twitter accounts feel robotic, because that’s exactly what they are.

And media outlets are often the least generous when it comes to crediting sources. Perhaps they fear they’ll lose readers if they point them elsewhere. Of course, they will lose some traffic that way, but they’ll gain more in terms of credibility by being more open and generous.

Reportr.net » 10 best practices for Twitter for journalists.

How journalists cultivate Twitter sources

In A journalist kicking it old school on Twitter ABC reporter Mark Colvin writes about the way journalism has changed in recent years.

He quotes tips from researcher Jess Hill on how to cultivate sources on Twitter:

If you’re going to cultivate sources on Twitter, make sure you stay in touch with them, even when nothing’s happening.

Show them you care about them as people, that they’re not just a story – develop a relationship, just like journalists have always done. That way when something does happen, they will probably get in touch with you, or may at least prioritise you for an interview when every journalist in the world is suddenly chasing them.

Which is much that same as cultivating sources on the phone or in person. Twitter’s remote nature means it’s important to remind ourselves of the human touch.

When Twitter is great journalism

In June we looked at Can Twitter be journalism? At the time I concluded Twitter could be journalism, but that’s not how most journalists use it.

Over the past week, Liam Tung at ZDnet Australia has shown just how powerful the 140 character messaging service is in the hands of a skilled reporter.

Tung is providing daily coverage of the trial between Perth-based ISP iiNet and the Australian Federation against Copyright Theft (AFACT).

He is also providing frequently updated tweets from the court room.

You can follow Tung’s tweets through Twitter from his home page(LiamT) or by tracking the #iitrial hashtag.

ZDNet also publishes the feed on a web page. This makes sense because it’s hard to make money from a Twitter feed, but a popular web page traffic sells plenty of advertising.

In memoriam Twitter

So. Farewell
Then
Twitter.

Social networking
and
micro-blogging
service.

Whatever that’s supposed
to mean in English

Keith’s mum used to
Tweet things.

Like “I had
cornflakes
for breakfast”

And other
pearls
of wisdom

EJ Thribb age 17 1/2

(with acknowledgement to Barry Fantoni and Private Eye magazine. I was inspired to write this after reading news headlines saying ‘Twitter is dead’).