Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Here’s What a Twitter News Service Might Look Like

Many of Twitter’s 215 million users have turned the service into their own personal newspaper by following people and publishers that bring them news (or trivia, or whatever) of the day.

But what if Twitter started delivering that news itself?

That’s what appears to be going on with @eventparrot, a Twitter account that delivers links to news stories from outside publishers. It popped up yesterday, and now has several thousand followers who are getting notifications like this, via Twitter’s Direct Message feature:

event parrot twitter

Event Parrot describes itself as a “Twitter experiment,” and while Twitter hasn’t officially identified the account as one of its own, I’m quite comfortable assuming that it is.

For starters, it looks very similar to @MagicRecs, another Twitter experiment that the company eventually turned into a full-fledged feature. Other clues include nudges and winks from Twitter employees.

Let’s also assume that if Event Parrot ends up becoming an official Twitter feature, the company will move it out of the Direct Message backwater and find a more mainstream way to showcase it.

Magic Recs has now been turned into a push notification, and you could imagine the same happening to Event Parrot. Or the company could simply find some dedicated space for it in users’ main feeds, which would make even more sense to the new users Twitter is trying to find.

The big question: Do Twitter users need a Twitter-run news service?

Magic Recs, which points out Twitter accounts that my Twitter friends have started following (basically, people who work at Apple or used to work at Apple), is cool because it gives me a peek at what the people in my filter bubble are interested in, even when they’re not tweeting about it.

And while I can’t tell if Event Parrot is personalized for me based on what other people in my feed are sharing (I seem to have gotten the same news alerts that everyone else who has written about Event Parrot has received), I’m not sure that I care.

Either Event Parrot is telling me about stories that people in my feed are already sharing, which means I’m already seeing them, or it’s telling me about news that people aren’t sharing. Which might be interesting, but my hunch is that I’m going to rely on humans, not algorithms, to tell me about that stuff. (In the old days, we called these humans “editors.”)

That said, I could see Twitter playing around with this concept for new users, as a sort of new take on its old “suggested user list” that newbies would encounter when they signed up: “Here’s a way to get lots of news from lots of places with one easy-to-follow account.” Couldn’t hurt, right?

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— David Pogue on why he’s joining Yahoo