Twitter wants to be a source for deep news discovery, not just first-hand accounts. So today it announced Twitter Related Headlines, which shows what websites a tweet has been embedded in on the tweet’s permalinked page. This lets you follow through on a story and learn extra context, and it encourages sites to embed tweets more often.
Twitter explains how when basketball player Jason Collins became the first NBA player to publicly come out as gay via a tweet, that tweet was rapidly embedded around the web. The new feature would have made it easy to find those stories right from Jason’s tweet, and dive in for more details.
Related Headlines will also give extra distribution to stories that embed tweets, promoting the practice. That’s important since other sites like Facebook are getting into embedding. If a site has to choose between Facebook and Twitter, it might go with Twitter to grab that referral traffic bonus from Related Headlines.
[Correction: Related Headlines do not show up when a tweet is embedded as we briefly published. Related Headlines are only shown on a tweet’s permalinked page, and aren’t part of Twitter cards so they don’t appear in embeds. That means there’s no danger of showing links to other sites in your posts.]
Some tweeters may also be miffed that they’re not given a choice about what shows up in the Related Headlines section on their own tweets. To date users have been in control of what content gets attached to their tweets, since it typically is just an expansion of a link they’ve included. Now Twitter is taking some liberties to help readers, but which remove control from authors. Twitter didn’t mention anything about how it chooses what tweets are shown in Related Headlines or how it ranks them.
The theme is that Twitter is weaving itself deeper into the fabric of journalism by making embeds a two-way street. Its intentions are clear: To become a primary document where tweets don’t just carry news. They are news.