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Twitter Exploring Personalized Breaking News Notifications With @Eventparrot Experiment

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Twitter’s Silent Chairman

Twitter appears to be exploring introducing breaking news notifications tuned for you to its apps, if a new experimental account is any indication. An account called @eventparrot has garnered around 1,500 followers and promises to deliver ‘direct messages that help you keep up with what’s happening in the world’. Update: Yep, it’s official, the account has just been verified.

I received my first message from the account this evening, a repackaged tweet from CNN breaking news about rebels kidnapping Libya’s prime minister:

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The account looks nearly identical in makeup to the @magicrecs account that spawned Twitter’s recent addition of push recommendations for follow suggestions and ‘interesting tweets’. That account also started out with the profile text ‘this is a Twitter experiment’, and was later folded into Twitter’s products after it garnered a lot of positive responses on Twitter at large.

It’s impossible to tell whether the account is an ‘official Twitter experiment’ as the company does not comment on experiments it runs. But the account has all of the earmarks of an experiment in delivering a personalized set of breaking news alerts that are determined by an algorithm to be actually useful to you. All of the earliest followers are Twitter employees, which isn’t too surprising as they tend to dogfood new experiments in some cases. Screen Shot 2013-10-09 at 5.35.23 PM

For now you’ll have to forgive me for hedging my bets on this being something Twitter is actually responsible for, but I believe that it is. All of the earmarks are there. I’m also jumping to conclusions a bit about where Twitter might take this as it is just an experiment. So, if it’s not successful or doesn’t meet with the acclaim of @magicrecs, it might go nowhere.

But, if it’s successful, then twitter might roll out news notifications that have the same kind of personal ‘magical thrill’ that an account follow recommendation from @magicrecs has. In my piece on it last week I noted that Twitter appears to be working hard to create a reason for individuals to feel that the service is tailored to them specifically. This new @eventparrot experiment could be another step in that direction, which is a good thing.

Twitter is still very much trying to figure out how to balance its need to make money with a need to both attract and retain new users. I personally feel that the tapering user growth numbers that we saw in Twitter’s S-1 are a direct result of it focusing too much on bringing outside media in to Twitter, rather than Twitter itself being the source of media.  If people see Twitter as just another place that they can see the same video clips and pictures that they’ve seen elsewhere, there is no motivation to make Twitter a part of their daily lives. If, however, people see that Twitter is using its data to break news that matters to them personally,  and to deliver media created specifically for the service — that’s what will bring the retention.

I’ll be watching @eventparrot closely to see how it shapes up. Ironically, or perhaps not so much, I was notified of the new experimental account via @magicrecs.

Image Credit: Auckland Photo News