Twitter’s Project Lightning Will Put A Curated Spin On Live News Events

Secret project, revealed by BuzzFeed and planned for later this year, will display collections of human-selected visual content about breaking news and major events.

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Twitter is working on a major new live news feature that by the end of the year could make it easier for people to follow events on the social communications network.

Called Project Lightning and revealed today in a post by Mat Honan in BuzzFeed News, the new product will feature curated streams of event-based content and have a prominent place in an upcoming update of Twitter’s mobile apps. In keeping with Twitter’s efforts to maximize audience on and off its network, Project Lightning content will also be viewable for people who aren’t logged into Twitter, on, the mobile web and in embeds on other web pages.

Here’s how BuzzFeed described Project Lightning, which is expected to launch later this year:

On Twitter’s mobile app, there will be a new button in the center of the home row. Press it and you’ll be taken to a screen that will show various events taking place that people are tweeting about. These could be based on prescheduled events like Coachella, the Grammys, or the NBA Finals. But they might also focus on breaking news and ongoing events, like the Nepalese earthquake or Ferguson, Missouri. Essentially, if it’s an event that a lot of people are tweeting about, Twitter could create an experience around it.

“It’s around anything that’s interesting,” [Twitter head of product Kevin] Weil explains. “It could be current events. It could be breaking news. It could be awards shows or sports. But also cultural events and moments — things around your location and where you are. There’s amazing content, for example, posted to Throwback Thursday every single Thursday. But it’s hard to discover it; you have to work as a user to go and find the best stuff, but [we] can do it easily and can package it richly.”

Launch one of these events and you’ll see a visually driven, curated collection of tweets. A team of editors, working under Katie Jacobs Stanton, who runs Twitter’s global media operations, will select what it thinks are the best and most relevant tweets and package them into a collection.
These collections are designed to take advantage of images and videos associated with a particular event, and to bring them to life. None of that media is presented in the standard Twitter timeline — each tweet, picture, or video will take up the entire screen of your phone. You’ll view them one at a time by swiping. Importantly, collections will include — and thus promote — not only pictures and videos posted to Twitter, but Vines and Periscope videos as well.

Photos and videos in Project Lightning collections will load instantly, with videos playing automatically as people swipe through. People will be able to follow Lightning collections and blend the curated tweets into their timelines. That will allow them to follow an event — the Oscars for instance — while the event is ongoing and effectively unfollow when the event ends.

Twitter will aim to curate seven to 10 of these events daily, BuzzFeed reported, but also plans to eventually open up the curation tool to other organizations so they can create similar experiences for followers.

Read the full report on BuzzFeed.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Martin Beck
Martin Beck was Third Door Media's Social Media Reporter from March 2014 through December 2015.

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