Twitter has begun testing a new feature that lets you follow topics in addition to people. There will be a list of topics curated by Twitter which you’ll have to pick from, starting with sports, but it should expand to include celebrities, TV shows, and other common discussions.
Currently, the test is limited to Android users and includes a companion test that lets you create separate lists to follow individual interests, including keywords and individual users.
Once you follow a topic, you’ll see a handful of tweets in addition to those from people you already follow. You’ll also have the option to mute topics, so you don’t see these tweets all the time, plus to avoid spoilers around TV shows or sports events.
The site is also exploring a way for you to create a separate timeline that includes certain accounts and topics you follow. The topics a user follows will be public, and it will be easy to subscribe or unsubscribe to a topic.
The intent of the new feature is to make it as easy to follow an interest as it is to follow a person on Twitter, said Sriram Krishnan from the Twitter product group.
These topics are being curated with the help of machine learning. “Twitter is about what is happening right now,” said Rob Bishop from the company’s product group. Human curation would be too slow to curate such topics, he argued. “We think that altogether this will make Twitter a more powerful interest platform,” said Wally Gurzynski, a product manager at the company.
Twitter isn’t softening on its enthusiasm to test new features. True to rumors and some news we shared with you not so long ago, Twitter is testing an option in Android to snooze notifications. You’re limited to one-, three- and 12-hour increments. However, those could do the job if your tweet has gone viral up to a point that your phone tends to blow up with mentions and DMs while you’re out on the town.
“The company is also exploring other features such as a search tool for your direct messages and the ability to reorder photos after you attached them to a tweet,” reports CNET.
However, the edit button is not expected anytime soon.
None of these are guaranteed to see a widespread release, but topic following stands a better chance than most. Twitter’s continuous challenge has been to help newcomers decide who and what to follow.