As Facebook downplays news, Twitter gives breaking videos a prominent spot

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As social media platforms face the backlash of fake news, networks are changing how news is displayed in the feeds. Facebook is showing less news — but now Twitter is doing the opposite and placing live, breaking news videos in a prominent spot at the side of user’s timelines. The move expands Twitter’s push for live video and algorithmically displays related news tweets. Twitter confirmed this week that the change is currently being rolled out across the network.

For users in the United States, the new feature meant watching Wednesday’s shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School unfold through live local coverage from a Miami-based news station. Users could watch the footage in the sidebar, or click on the coverage to see both the live video and tweets related to the February 14 tragedy that killed 17. BuzzFeed said the footage had more than 50,000 viewers at one time.

The change gives live, breaking coverage a prominent spot beside users’ feeds. Twitter says they will use partnerships with local news stations to find reliable sources to use during breaking news. Screenshots of the new feature also show a “hide” option for removing the video from the sidebar.

The change shows Twitter’s strategy in the ongoing fight against fake news. Facebook is choosing to fight fake news by showing less news in general as the platform tweaks the news feed for users’ “well being,” though a push for more local news is also part of the changes. Instead, Twitter is choosing which news to give a prominent spot on the platform through the local news partnerships.

Working with a reputable news outlet could help Twitter spread the more accurate news faster, but it’s unclear how tweets will be affected by the change. The news video is accompanied by a list of related tweets that are selected by algorithms — which means that, while the local footage gets prominent placement, inaccurate tweets could potentially be shared with the news.

“We’re continuing to work on new ways we can surface credible and relevant information to help people stay informed,” Kayvon Beykpour, Twitter’s video general manager, told BuzzFeed News. “By pairing live video with the conversation on Twitter, there is no faster way to see what’s happening around the world.”

Twitter’s short-form posts and instant nature means the platform is often an outlet for discussing current events — mixing footage of a current event into user’s timelines could take that tendency even farther.

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