Twitter is a fantastic resource for breaking news; you can find out about major events in real time, as they happen. One of Twitter’s greatest strengths is how professionals and regular people can contribute to news stories by posting updates and re-tweeting news, helping deliver information at a rapid-fire speed. But this strength is also a weakness, because users sometimes take tweets they see out of context and end up spreading misinformation and misinterpreting things they see, choosing to pass stories along before verifying if they’re true.
Twitter is partially trying to rectify this problem by introducing a new feature called “Related Headlines” that will showcase stories related to tweets.
They explained: “When you embed Tweets in your content, the headline of your article and your site’s Twitter account will be surfaced on the Tweet’s permalink page for all to see. We think this will help more people discover the larger story behind the Tweet, drive clicks to your articles, and help grow your audience on Twitter.”
Many journalists incorrectly interpreted the announcement, criticizing Twitter for making them advertise competitors’ stories. But that’s not how it works; if one website has a story that features an embedded tweet, the “Related Headlines” won’t show up on their page. These headlines only show up on the Twitter page of the tweet in questions.
So if someone is reading a news story that has an embedded tweet in it – for instance, a tweet from Kanye West – they won’t see links to related stories with the link embedded on the page. But if they go directly to Kanye’s Twitter page and wonder whether anyone’s written about what he tweeted and they click on his tweet, then they will see relevant stories. Rival publications will see their stories grouped together when these headlines appear on the Twitter permalink, which may continue to rankle feathers.
This new feature will encourage people to read additional information, which is certainly a positive thing, although it’s too soon to tell whether people will actually bother to click on related headlines or not – the feature is still not fully rolled out yet, so you may not be able to see these related headlines until later this week or this month.