Right now, tracking major stories and events on Twitter requires a certain level of knowledge about how Twitter works. Identifying the right hashtags and right sources is still work. The company has tried in the past make surfacing pertinent tweets easier, but you needed to be a more-or-less seasoned user to draw benefit from them. According to BuzzFeed, Twitter is now in the process of making its real-time news feed accessible to everyone, whether they're on desktop, mobile, or even signed into Twitter to begin with.
"A brand new way to look at tweets."
The new product is called Project Lightning, and Twitter's Kevin Weil tells BuzzFeed's Mat Honan that "it's a brand new way to look at tweets." That's because Twitter is taking a decidedly editorial approach to news curation, complete with a team of people with newsroom backgrounds who will identify the best tweets for anyone online trying to follow a news story. That means users won't need to rely on blogs to suss out meaning from the events Twitter thrives on. They can go right to the source.
This direction and experience is bold and uniquely Twitter! Follow events as they unfold, even when logged out. ⚡️ https://t.co/Ji4Oykk12K— Jack (@jack) June 18, 2015
"We’ve seen in the past that we have so much conversation around events," Stanton told Honan. "But the challenge we’ve had over the years is, although we have the world’s greatest content, it’s like having a television without a channel guide or even a remote control."
Project Lightning could be the remote control for Twitter's real-time news feed
Lighting will serve as that remote control. On mobile at least, the new product will live in Twitter's home row, and show collections about current events and breaking news. Each collection will be updated in real time and load instantly. They'll also take over the device's entire screen, all the better for showing off photos, video, Vines, and Periscopes. Crucially, the new functionality will work whether the user is an active user or not. The collections themselves can be embedded online and in other apps. The endgame is for Twitter to attract more users by being that much more visible, which is important if the company wants to grow its userbase.
Lightning is reportedly a few months away, and there's currently no projected release date for the functionality. But, with the company currently in search for a new CEO since Dick Costolo's very public ouster, that the company is aggressively trying to innovate is a good sign.