Twitter Lightning will turn real-time events into social channels

When you think about it, Twitter is already similar to television in some ways. It’s there waiting to stream out live content when you turn it on, you can filter through trending topics like changing channels, and you can subscribe to a package of content that you want to consume on a regular basis by following the right set of users.

Now Twitter is about to step up its game and become even more like TV, according to a report published in BuzzFeed yesterday. The report details what to expect from Project Lightning, which Twitter defines as transformative to its service. Here’s what we learned:

  • A new button will be added to the centre of the home row on Twitter’s mobile app. It will lead to an events stream that will show both pre-scheduled events (sports, for example) or breaking news and ongoing events. Basically, any event that a lot of people are tweeting about will be fair game for this area.
  • The events will be a curated collection of tweets selected by editors that work for Twitter. The collections will be geared towards visual media that is natively embedded on Twitter – images, Vine videos, or Periscope videos included – and will take up the entire screen on a mobile device. The user will swipe through them.
  • Users can follow an event and see all the tweets related to it without following the people sending the tweets. When the event concludes, the user stops seeing tweets from those users.

Twitter as content purveyor

If the changes work as Twitter hopes, people who don’t even have accounts on the social network will soon be browsing through events – like you might flip through TV channels – to consume news and entertainment-related content.

The change also puts Twitter in a position where it’s competing with news networks and publications as the go-to place to following major developing events. That lines up well with the moves that Facebook has made to publish Instant Articles from select publishers to its timeline, and even Apple’s new News app that will see editors curating content for users.


Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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