Today, Twitter will begin adding related headlines to tweets to provide context and background to what the hell someone is talking about. Providing context to the noise makes sense, but Twitter hasn’t provided complete details on how the new feature will work or how widespread it will be.
In the Jason Collins example the company gives (above), we’re talking about a big national news story in which the person tweeting is the central figure. This is the kind of situation where providing context isn’t just easy — it’s the right thing to do. What’s not clear is if it’ll pull keywords from the tweets of random people to populate related headlines. So if I tweeted “Basketball has needed this for a long time,” would Twitter populate headlines?
For the time being, the feature will only apply to sites where the tweet is embedded, and there’s no word on how it might get expanded further.
There are a few theories circulating about the future of this feature. Twitter might be taking aim at the “subliminal tweet” You know, when you tweet about a person or event without actually linking to something or @mentioning anybody. It’s a favoured trick of the cleverest Twitter users. If Twitter’s related headlines are really smart at surfacing related news, it could make the subtweet a lot trickier. Another view is that Twitter will give advertisers the ability to pay for related headlines, much the way advertisers pay for search results on Google.
We’re reaching out to Twitter for some clarification on how the feature will work and we’ll update when we hear back. [Twitter]