Check your tweets, click on ‘expand’ and you may just notice something a little bit different. Twitter announced earlier this week that it will be expanding its ‘expanded tweets’, allowing users to view previews of stories and see videos linked in the tweet, all without having to visit the actual site it links to.
Twitter’s ‘expand’ button has already been around for quite a while. The option allows users to see replies and re-tweets, view photos from Instagram and even watch videos linked from YouTube. As of this week however, the feature will now show actual previews of the content tweeted by Twitter’s select media partners, in what is a clear sign of the social network’s evolving role as a media distributor.
Several dozen of Twitter’s media partners now have their content displayed in the expanded tweets section, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Der Spiegel Online, MSNBC, TMZ, BuzzFeed and many more.
The ‘expanded’ expanded tweets have already started appearing on Twitter’s main website and its mobile site, according to an official blog post. For iPhone and Android app users, the new service isn’t quite ready to go, but Twitter is promising that they too will be able to see the expanded tweets in due course.
What’s interesting about the new feature is that, despite this development, Twitter continues to deny that it’s a media company, stating quite clearly that it doesn’t even want to be one, yet by curating content for others to read, and then deriving advertising revenues from this, they’re acting no differently from all the other major news companies in the world.
And what’s to stop Twitter from going one step further in the future, expanding their already ‘expanded’ expanded tweets even more, and displaying full articles like many RSS feed newsreaders already do? Surely that would be the logical next step we can look forward to.
We think it’s about time Twitter owned up to reality, and finally admit that it is indeed a media entity in its own right.