Twitter CFO floats idea of newspaper-like 'daily edition'

Finding new ways to curate tweets is high on Twitter's agenda

Twitter's headquarters on Market Street in San Francisco
Twitter's headquarters on Market Street in San Francisco

Here's an idea for the next version of Twitter that might crystallize the service's value: The Twitter Daily Favorite.

Okay, perhaps that won't be the exact title. But a newspaper-themed form of Twitter that curates an assortment of newsy tweets to provide a summary of the goings-on could come as a future feature or as a separate app.

People already check Twitter to see what's happening. But news junkies who follow lots of accounts may have dozens if not hundreds of tweets to comb through every morning. Twitter thinks it can address this, partly by better organizing the content posted to its site and presenting it in new ways.

"We've only scratched the surface here," Anthony Noto, Twitter's chief financial officer, said regarding how Twitter might evolve its service. A "Twitter Daily Edition" might be one such service that packages select tweets in a new way, he said during the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday.

It might exist as a new service as Twitter tries other ways to attract users and make its site more useful, which include the company's recent launches of in-app video recording and direct messaging among groups.

For a newspaper-like service, the tweets might be curated manually and also by algorithms, to help people catch up on what's happening or provide a synopsis of news, he said. Twitter already does a bit of this, through its email alerts for popular tweets and other activity happening in users' networks.

Such a feature may never materialize. But the ideas behind a "daily edition" of tweets are very real, and reflective of Twitter's interest in organizing the hundreds of millions of tweets posted daily to its site.

Twitter is known for its real-time feed of microblog posts, but the company has begun to break slightly from that model by curating tweets for users. Late last year the company began rolling out "While You Were Away," which places a few tweets for users at the top of their feed if they haven't visited Twitter in a while.

As the feature works now, three tweets are presented to users if they haven't checked Twitter for 12 hours, Noto said. But the company is looking to reduce the time gap for the feature to kick in and improve the machine learning that decides which tweets to present to users, he said.

A daily edition of Twitter, Noto said, might expand on the idea of While You Were Away.

Twitter, meanwhile, is moving to distribute its wealth of content beyond its site, to grow its potential audience and improve its ability to advertise. This "syndicated audience" -- people who might see tweets on other websites or on television -- currently totals 700 million people monthly, Noto said for the first time on Tuesday.

It's a number likely to grow. Twitter recently struck a firehose deal with Google to get tweets appearing in Google search results. The deal should go into effect in the next couple of months, Noto said.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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