Twitter takes a big step towards news publishing with curated story timelines

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Twitter is testing a new feature that assembles timelines based on major news stories, and presents them at the top of your feed above tweets from the people and brands you follow.

The trial (which has been rolled out to a small set of users in the US) involves stories hand-picked by human curators, but Twitter says the timelines will eventually be algorithmically-generated. The timelines are made up of tweets from a variety of sources – both news publishers and other accounts.

“People come to Twitter to see and talk about what's happening," Keith Coleman, vice president of product at Twitter, told Buzzfeed in a statement. We're working on ways to make it easier for everyone to find relevant news and the surrounding conversation so they can stay informed about what matters to them."

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Like Facebook, Twitter is struggling to improve a tarnished reputation as a platform for untrue and deliberately inflammatory news stories. Last month, CEO Jack Dorsey admitted the site has "witnessed abuse, harassment, troll armies, manipulation through bots and human coordination, misinformation campaigns, and increasingly divisive echo chambers."

Whereas Facebook has reacted to similar accusations by taking a step back, reducing the amount of news shown in timelines and putting greater emphasis on local stories, Twitter is trying to take back the reins.

However, the use of algorithms to generate news timelines could prove troublesome. Although Twitter hasn't yet explained how tweets will be chosen, but there's a risk of third parties discovering ways to game the system and push poor quality news under users' noses – as happened on Facebook.

It's also surprising that Twitter seems to be taking action before Dorsey's plan to assess the "health" of conversations on the site has even begun, but the test group is very small, and it's also possible that the site will be trialling many other options before deciding which to implement.

Via Digital Trends