Reuters’ new algorithm confirms once and for all that Twitter is the best place to find news

how to use Twitter
Twitter is an indispensable source of live commentary and news. We know that, the site’s fervent users know that, and media agencies know that. The task for news outlets looking to harness the platform’s deluge of data, however, has always been how best to find breaking events as they occur. Plenty of journalists track the site manually or by using third-party analytics software, but would an automated system be able to do the job more efficiently?

That’s the question Reuters set out to answer two years ago when it began work on its news-surfacing algorithm. Last week, it unveiled its custom tool, dubbed the “Reuters News Tracer” to NiemanLab and the Columbia Journalism Review.

The news agency claims its software is capable of identifying breaking news events on Twitter while initial reports are still coming in. The process begins with detection, which sees the algorithm bunch relevant tweets into events, allowing it to generate metadata regarding the story’s topic. Tweets that contain the words “explosion” and “bomb,” for example, could be categorized together as denoting a potential terrorist attack.

After detection comes the problematic task of verification. With fake stories currently posing a problem for social media sites, such as Facebook, authenticity is of the utmost importance for a news publisher.

According to Reuters, its biggest (and most important) challenge when developing the algorithm was figuring out what events were newsworthy and not spam. In order to do this, its system assigns a verification score to tweets based on 40 factors, including whether the report is from a verified account, how many followers the account has, whether the tweets contain links and images, and the structure of the tweets themselves. “Amazingly enough, a tweet that is entirely in capital letters is less likely to be true,” Reg Chua, Reuters’ executive editor of data and innovation, told NiemanLab.

If the tweets assigned under an event reach a certain combined score, Reuters claims it has the assurance it requires in order to tweet and report on the issue. The score will then change as more reporters begin covering the story, with some events decreasing and others increasing in value.

According to Chua, the tool has helped Reuters to cover the news faster. For example, the agency received a 15-minute head start on a news alert regarding the Chelsea bombing in New York in October. It also helps Reuters to cover “witnessable events” in places where it may not have a physical presence.

“With the proliferation of smartphones and social media, it means that there are lot more witnesses to a lot more events,” said Chua. “We can’t be at everything. Our tool helps shift some of the burden of witnessing and lets journalists do much more of the high value-added work.”

Home Theater

Soul Electronics’ new earbuds act as your personal running coach

Soul Electronics is no stranger to fitness-focused earbuds, but its new Run Free Pro Bio use a new gait-analysis technology to measure how you run, effectively acting as your own personal running coach.
Home Theater

What’s new on Hulu and what’s leaving in September 2018

Our complete list of what's new on Hulu for September 2018, our personal favorites, and which titles will be removed will help you catch up on all the site has to offer, and also ensure you don't miss any titles heading into the streaming…

Sixth public beta of iOS 12 still lacks one key feature

At this year's Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple unveiled its latest operating system, iOS 12. From app updates to group FaceTime, ARKit 2.0, and more, here are all the new features in iOS 12.

Apple may add Apple Pencil support for its 2018 iPhones

Apple's 2018 iPhone range is still a mystery. How many models will launch? What will they be called, and how big will the screens be? Here are all the rumors and everything we know so far.
Social Media

Three million people quit Snapchat after the redesign

After a million users signed petitions to get the old Snapchat back, the network's user count is showing the early results of the changes with a three-million-user drop in daily active users.
Social Media

Facebook wants to help you find a mentor with its latest Groups feature

Facebook is designed for connecting to other people -- so why not mentors? Today, Facebook launched a program inside Groups that allows for two users to go through a mentorship program together.

The numbers don’t lie: Facebook is faltering. So what will eventually replace it?

Facebook is faltering, and the data prove it. User growth is slowing, employee outlooks are dipping, and young people are looking elsewhere. But for Facebook to fail, an alternative must arise. Who will it be?
Social Media

Facebook’s less cluttered friend list feeds are no more

Facebook friend feeds created a more curated news feed -- but not anymore. Facebook discontinued the feature, saying it wasn't widely used. The move will help the network focus on improving the news feed, the company says.

Starting a vlog? Here are the best cameras to buy

Any camera that shoots video can be used to vlog, but a few models stand out from the crowd thanks to superior image quality, ergonomics, and usability.

For Monaris, it’s a photography career launched on an iPhone and Instagram

On Instagram, she's known just as Monaris. But street photographer Paola Franqui has built a following largely with an iPhone and a smile. We sat down with her to talk photography, style, and Instagram, of course.

Marco? Polo! Let's explore the app known as the 'video walkie-talkie'

Marco Polo has been dubbed the "video walkie-talkie," but how does the video messaging app stack up against competitors like Snapchat and Instagram? From unique filters to personalized video messages, we explore the Marco Polo app.
Social Media

Kids can now initiate a friend request on Messenger Kids by using a password

Facebook's messaging app for the under-13 crowd required parents, not kids, to initiate the process of adding a friend. Now kids can start the process by using a unique passphrase -- a feature that still requires parental approval.

The Nixplay Iris might just make digital picture frames cool again

The digital picture frame's popularity has fizzled because of time-consuming updates and low quality -- but can a Wi-Fi connected frame change that? The Nixplay Iris is an 8-inch smart digital picture frame that wireless updates photos.
Social Media

Instagram hackers are changing account info into Russian email addresses

Have you logged in to your Instagram lately? A hack circulating this month has Instagram users locked out of their accounts because a hacker changed all the profile data, according to a report.