Launched in 2006 as a micro-blogging platform, Twitter is one of the most prominent social media companies in the world, with over 217 million monetisable daily active users as of the year ending 2021. It is also known for enabling faster and easier conversations on social media.
Additionally, the platform allows multiple ideologies to come together and share points of view while keeping the discourse civil. Twitter is also the go-to platform for millions for the latest news and empowers activists, journalists and media houses to share and break stories.
To maintain the user experience, Twitter introduces updates like all other social media platforms. This year too, it has unveiled new features while some are in testing mode already.
Some of the most important Twitter updates of 2022 include the possible expansion of its subscription service, Twitter Blue and other features designed to make the platform safer and easier to use.
Thus, it becomes necessary for users to know about updates the company makes to enhance its interface and reach the target audience. Many of the new features are currently limited to countries or platforms such as iOS.
A look at Twitter updates of 2022
USD 8 for blue tick
Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk announced on 1 November that the social networking company will be charging users for the coveted blue tick. In a series of tweets, he said that users will have to pay USD 8 per month if they wish to get their accounts verified with the blue tick mark.
Musk said that those willing to pay will also get some additional features such as “priority in replies, mentions & search, which is essential to defeat spam/scam.” They will also be able to post longer video and audio. There will be a paywall bypass for publishers and all public figures will have a secondary tag explaining who they are, just like the ones that currently exist for politicians.
The system, according to Musk, will bring revenue that Twitter will be able to use to reward content creators on the platform.
Edit button testing begins
On 1 September, Twitter announced that it has started actively testing the ‘edit button,’ months after admitting it was working on it.
“if you see and edited Tweet it’s because we’re testing the edit button [sic],” Twitter tweeted from its official account, adding “this is happening and you’ll be okay [sic].”
On its blog, the company said that the feature will allow users to alter their tweets even after they are published.
“Think of it as a short period of time to do things like fix typos, add missed tags, and more,” the blog stated, indicating there is a limited time frame within which an edit can be done.
The feature will be initially available to users of Twitter Blue, the subscription service currently available in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US.
Twitter had first talked about the edit button on 1 April, confirming four days later that its testing will start on Twitter Blue.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who is currently locked in a legal battle with Twitter over its acquisition, had posted a poll on the same day, asking his followers if they wanted an edit button.
Podcasts in Spaces
Twitter began integrating podcasts to its newly redesigned Spaces tab starting 25 August.
In a statement released on the same day, Twitter said, “Integrating podcasts into Spaces, where audio conversations happen on Twitter, is another way we’re continuing to invest in audio creators. To do this in a simple and intuitive way that allows listeners to simply hit play and go, we started with a redesigned audio experience in the Spaces Tab.”
As part of the revamp of Spaces, personalised hubs known as Stations will start appearing. These categorise audio content under themes such as News, Music and Sports, among other verticals.
Recommendations will be based on the accounts followed by a user. Feedback to podcasts can be given with ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’ to show approval or disapproval.
According to Twitter, the new Spaces with podcast feature is visible to a group of global English-speaking audiences on iOS and Android for a start.
Twitter is testing a new feature called Notes in some markets. It enables a user to overcome the 280-characters-per-tweet limit and write longer pieces like a blog. Interestingly, Twitter started as a micro-blogging platform with a limit of just 140 characters before doubling it in 2017.
Notes lets users write a body text of up to 2,500 words with a title of 100-character length. Pictures, tweets and links can be inserted alongside text to make it look exactly like a blog post. Each Notes article will have a unique URL, which makes it possible for those without a Twitter account to read the long-form content.
Twitter gave a glimpse of how the feature works via two GIFs in a series of tweets on 22 June.
Notes can be edited even after it has been published, a major capability that normal tweets do not have. Twitter is testing the feature in the US, the UK, Canada and Ghana.
Twitter Blue is a premium monthly subscription service started by the social networking service in 2021, but it is yet to launch outside of the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Most of the major Twitter updates of 2022 are woven within the Twitter Blue service. Subscribers get exclusive premium features and app customisations, including new themes, bookmarking options and an Undo button that gives users 30 seconds to undo sending the tweet.
Twitter says that subscriptions are non-refundable, but subscribers get dedicated support regarding subscription-specific issues. Additionally, Twitter Blue isn’t ad-free but includes a feature that lets users read articles without ads on sites within the Twitter Blue network.
It has also been reported that users of Twitter Blue will get the first access to Twitter’s NFT portfolio, which will allow them to display their tokens in the form of hexagonal profile pictures.
Reddit and Quora users are familiar with the Downvote button. On YouTube, it is known as the Dislike button. Used to indicate disagreement with a post, the button is one of the indicators of a democratic discussion.
Currently in testing mode, the button will be available to only a few customers. Twitter first announced the test in July 2021, followed by a tweet in February 2022, which said that the social microblogging company is expanding the test’s scope.
“We learned a lot about the types of replies you don’t find relevant and we’re expanding this test –– more of you on web and soon iOS and Android will have the option to use reply downvoting. Downvotes aren’t public, but they’ll help inform us of the content people want to see,” read the tweet.
According to reports, Downvote works in a way slightly different from the Dislike button on other social media platforms. On Twitter, Downvotes are currently meant only for replies to an original tweet. They are not public and are not shared with the tweet’s author or others on the timeline. The button, according to Twitter, is meant to only inform the company that a reply “isn’t adding to the conversation.”
A much-liked feature that is available in Instagram Stories is the ability of the users to share content with only a select few within their followers’ group. Twitter is reportedly experimenting with a similar service.
In July 2021, the social media giant revealed it is working on a feature that would allow its users to share tweets with friends and followers they chose.
Alessandro Paluzzi, a developer and reverse engineer, in January 2022, reportedly found that Twitter has started developing the feature and has dubbed it ‘Flock.’ The name itself is temporary, though; Twitter told The Verge that “Flock” is just a “placeholder name,” which means it might get a proper name at the time of launch.
#Twitter continues to work on Twitter Flock by adding an explanation of how it works 👀
ℹ️ You can choose up to 150 people to include in your Twitter Flock 👥
ℹ️ People won’t be notified if you remove them from the list 🔕 pic.twitter.com/xtGcDiHgxS
— Alessandro Paluzzi (@alex193a) January 21, 2022
Now, how does ‘Flock’ work? According to Paluzzi, the feature lets a user share a tweet with a group of up to 150 users. The group can be updated, and people aren’t notified if they are removed from it.
Those who get to read such tweets will find a label beneath it reading: “You can see this tweet because the author has added you to their Flock.”
Twitter began a small test of what it calls the Safety Mode in September 2021. In February 2022, the company announced that it is expanding the beta version of the feature to around 50 percent of accounts in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand.
So, what is Twitter’s Safety Mode? The unique feature allows users to grant Twitter the right to automatically block any account it believes contains harmful language. This autoblock feature applies to quoted retweets. People blocked by the feature won’t be able to interact with the blocker’s account for seven days, unless the original account manually unblocks the blocked user.
“When the feature is turned on in your Settings, our systems will assess the likelihood of a negative engagement by considering both the Tweet’s content and the relationship between the Tweet author and replier,” Twitter said in its September 2021 statement regarding Safety Mode.
Remember when we began testing a new feature called Safety Mode? After months of feedback from beta users, we’re excited to expand this to some of you in several new English-speaking markets to gain more feedback and insights. https://t.co/8TM7S5Zfuj pic.twitter.com/AqVOUwyNQv
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) February 15, 2022
The feature applies only to those accounts that are not followed by the user or frequent interactions have not taken place between the users.
However, this has a downside. On 4 April 2022, Mashable reported the autoblock feature blocked healthcare activist Laura Marston’s quoted retweet of US Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s tweet on access to affordable insulin.
According to the report, Twitter blocked Marston’s comment even though it only added crucial information that Pelosi didn’t mention and contained no verbal attack. Mashable noted the algorithm went wrong in this case.
Tweet Reaction Videos
One of the most important Twitter updates of 2022 came with the introduction of Tweet Reaction Videos.
In a post dated 7 January, Twitter said it is “testing tweet reaction clips on iOS”.
It explained that a user has to tap the Retweet icon and then choose “Quote Tweet with reaction”. The feature lets users create and customise their very own Tweet Take in the form of a reaction video (or photo) with the Tweet embedded.
Tweet reaction videos can now start on Twitter!
Testing on iOS: when you tap the Retweet icon, choose “Quote Tweet with reaction” to create and customize your very own Tweet Take –– a reaction video (or photo) with the Tweet embedded. pic.twitter.com/1E30F8rKYh
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) January 6, 2022
The Tweet Reaction Videos are like the features on Instagram and TikTok, where users can respond through their own videos.
According to PCMag, the feature resembles Twitter Fleets. That feature, which led users to share stories as they do on Snapchat, was shelved just nine months after launch.
Topics Tag Bar
According to social media consultant and industry analyst Matt Navara, Twitter is experimenting with a feature he calls ‘Topics Tag Bar’ for iOS.
Twitter is working a topics tag bar on iOS
h/t @chloekorzh pic.twitter.com/QzE2wV6YFP
— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) January 4, 2022
It is not clear what this feature will do, but it is expected to let users quickly check topics of their interest by selecting them from a list of options.
Twitter Communities is a way for a group of like-minded people to come closer through discussions on topics of mutual interest. In January 2022, the official Twitter handle of Twitter Communities put out a post informing of a new feature, which allows people on iOS to share the community itself with others.
The feature could be accessed by tapping on the Upload button next to the Joined tab. The topmost option then visible is ‘Share via…’ followed by ‘Copy link’ and ‘Invite members’. The ‘Share via…’ option lets the user share the community.
Most users on Twitter need to tap on the blue button with a plus sign at the bottom right of their Twitter app on their phones to post a tweet, gif, photo or start discussions on Spaces.
Twitter began testing a new feature on iOS in January in which the blue button was replaced with its composer bar.
We’re making it easier to start a Tweet with a new composer bar above the bottom navigation menu. Now testing with some of you on iOS. pic.twitter.com/jXb260Gm08
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) January 6, 2022
It appears like a text box above the bottom navigation menu and lets users quickly start typing to post a tweet. On the right-hand side of the bar are options to post a picture or start live audio conversations on Spaces.
More about this feature, like some others being tested for iOS only, will be clear once Twitter expands the tests to Android and reveals more information.
ALT badge and image descriptions
In a tweet posted on 8 April, Twitter announced that it was making global its ALT badge and improved image descriptions.
“As promised, the ALT badge and exposed image descriptions go global today,” read a tweet from Twitter’s Accessibility account. “Over the past month, we fixed bugs and gathered feedback from the limited release group. We’re ready. You’re ready. Let’s describe our images!”
As promised, the ALT badge and exposed image descriptions go global today.
Over the past month, we fixed bugs and gathered feedback from the limited release group. We’re ready. You’re ready. Let’s describe our images! Here’s how: https://t.co/bkJmhRpZPg https://t.co/ep1ireBJGt
— Twitter Accessibility (@TwitterA11y) April 7, 2022
Twitter also shared the link to a blog post which presented a step-by-step process of adding alt text to images.
With the update, images with text descriptions will be marked with a badge reading “alt”. The badge will return the description of the image when clicked.
The image descriptions system was first introduced in 2016 but remained inaccessible to most users.
In June 2021, Twitter started planning a unique feature that allows people to remove themselves if they have been tagged in a tweet. On 8 April 2022, Twitter announced that it has begun testing it.
“How do you say “Don’t @ me,” without saying “Don’t @ me”?” read a tweet from Twitter Safety. “We’re experimenting with Unmentioning—a way to help you protect your peace and remove yourself from conversations—available on Web for some of you now.”
How do you say “Don’t @ me,” without saying “Don’t @ me”?
We’re experimenting with Unmentioning—a way to help you protect your peace and remove yourself from conversations—available on Web for some of you now. pic.twitter.com/rlo6lqp34H
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) April 7, 2022
A GIF shared by Twitter presented a glimpse of how to “unmention” yourself from a conversation.
It is not clear if the feature is being tested for a worldwide user base or only in specific countries.
Deleted tweets will not show as blank boxes
Earlier, when a tweet was deleted, it showed as a blank text on an external website it was embedded in. Now, the original text of deleted tweets will appear on third-party web pages instead of the blank space. The update is a reversal of an earlier decision taken by Twitter regarding deleted tweets.
Twitter spokesperson Remi Duhé told The Verge that the reversal was done following feedback and will be in effect while the company explores different options.
The rollback means that readers will now be able to see any embedded tweet’s original text, date and username even when deleted. The reversal will help media houses who embed tweets as part of their reports for context.
Elon Musk not on Twitter board
In a statement released on 11 April 2022, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal said that Elon Musk has decided to not join the company’s board. The announcement came days after Agrawal had confirmed that the Tesla CEO will be part of it.
“Elon Musk has decided not to join our board. Here’s what I can share about what happened. The Board and I had many discussions about Elon joining the board, and with Elon directly. We were excited to collaborate and clear about the risks. We also believed that having Elon as a fiduciary of the company where he, like all board members, has to act in the best interests of the company and all our shareholders, was the best path forward. The board offered him a seat,” Agrawal said in the statement he shared on Twitter.
Elon has decided not to join our board. I sent a brief note to the company, sharing with you all here. pic.twitter.com/lfrXACavvk
— Parag Agrawal (@paraga) April 11, 2022
According to Agrawal, Elon was to join the board on 9 April. However, the same morning, Musk had told the company that he was turning down the position.
“I believe this is for the best. We have and will always value input from our shareholders whether they are on our Board or not. Elon is our biggest shareholder, and we will remain open to his input,” Agrawal said, adding, “There will be distractions ahead, but our goals and priorities remain unchanged.”
Twitter acquires OpenBack
Twitter acquired push notifications company OpenBack, a revelation the social media giant made on 12 April 2022.
In a series of tweets, Jay Sullivan, the head of consumer product at Twitter, announced the acquisition underlining the need for relevant notifications.
“The best push notifications bring people to the conversations they care about on Twitter. But irrelevant notifications are a distraction,” wrote Sullivan. “With millions of people visiting Twitter via notifications every day, we want them to be timely, relevant and engaging.”
3/ OpenBack and their talented team joining Twitter will help us improve our ability to deliver the right notifications at the right time, in a way that puts people’s privacy first. We’re thrilled to have them join the flock and look forward to seeing their impact. Welcome! 🙌
— Jay Sullivan (@jaysullivan) April 12, 2022
Sullivan also said that the team of OpenBack will help Twitter “improve our ability to deliver the right notifications at the right time” while ensuring privacy.
The consumer product head called OpenBack “a mobile platform that helps make apps more engaging through device-side control of push notifications”.
It is, however, unclear how Twitter is going to work on notifications.
(Main and Featured images: Jeremy Bezanger/@unarchive/Unsplash)