Twitter is rolling out new features that will have an impact on the user experience. While some of them are universally adored, others fall short of expectations. While it was a great place for breaking news and keeping people up to date on what was going on in the world, it didn’t provide an easy way for people with similar interests to connect.
This, however, could change in the near future. Twitter is currently testing a new feature called Communities, which allows users to tweet for others who share their interests. Communities, with a name that leaves little room for interpretation, can be thought of as Twitter’s version of Facebook Groups.
An official blog post said this feature is currently available to a select group of iOS and Web users, with Android users set to receive it soon. While the company stated that it intends to gradually expand Communities, it did not specify the eligibility criteria for the same.
The concept behind creating Communities is that all “conversations aren’t for everyone, just the people who want to talk about the thing you want to talk about. When you join a Community, you can Tweet directly to that group instead of to all your followers,” according to Twitter.
Twitter, on the other hand, claims that “Community pages and timelines are publicly available so anyone can read Quote Tweet, and report Community Tweet.” While these communities are open to the public, you must be invited to join one, and responses are limited to community members.
The admin must control the type of content that is discussed and shared in these communities because the content must be self-moderated. Because non-users will be able to see/read the Tweets, they will be able to report them if they are offensive. This is in contrast to Facebook, where non-members are unable to access the content.
Twitter says it’s still figuring out “new reporting flows and bespoke enforcement actions” that will help it identify rogue communities.
Communities are a significant departure for Twitter, which is clearly trying to reinvent itself as a more dynamic platform for community building. Twitter appears to be moving in the direction of platforms like Discord or Reddit, where everything revolves around self-moderated interest-based communities, by carving out significant space for subcommunities. Those platforms have their own moderation issues, but niche, interest-based communities encourage users to go deeper in ways that make Twitter interactions seem shallow in comparison.
The addition of Communities is a novel direction for a well-known social network that has remained largely unchanged for more than a decade. Communities could build connective tissue between users and make Twitter a more dynamic place to hang out if the test succeeds — but only if Twitter can strike the right balance between encouraging the growth of its newly imagined subcommunities while also keeping them safe.
The announcement about Communities comes just days after it was revealed that Twitter is testing edge-to-edge tweets for images and video, which could help it become a more visually appealing platform while also increasing ad revenue. Spaces, Super Follows, Ticketed Spaces, and a new set of emojis have all been added to Twitter recently.