Twitter launches Curator, its free Storyful competitor

1 Apr 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

This is how Twitter’s new anti-harassment filter works. (Surprise! It works really well.).

First unveiled in February, Curator is now available to any media outlet that applies on Twitter’s website for access to the tool. Twitter on Tuesday released a new media tool called Curator that is designed to support the company’s ongoing push to display more of its tweets outside of its site and in front of a bigger audience.

Twitter today announced the launch of Curator, a tool that will enable media outlets to more easily sift through the social feed’s content in order to highlight collections of tweets and stories.Twitter this morning is publicly launching Curator, its new product that lets media organizations, publishers, and broadcasters identify, filter and display tweets and Vine videos on any screen in real-time. Publishers are a powerful group of users on Twitter that contribute and share some of the platform’s most compelling content, such as breaking news and live events.

Curator is meant to make it easier to search for and filter exactly what you’re looking for and allow real-time vines and tweets to be easily embedded into a variety of formats including television, websites, and mobile apps. As Twitter spokesperson Matt Dennebaum wrote on the company’s media blog: Curator was built to allow media publishers to search, filter and curate Twitter content that can then be displayed on web, mobile and TV.

Curator was designed to help publishers of all stripes discover relevant conversations and trending topics based on geographic region, user demographics, and other filters. Users can fine tune their searches to find tweets based on very narrow criteria — such as exact location, word count or what type of smartphone was used.

Twitter has been working to build out its base of non-core users—the people besides the 288 million users who log into Twitter at least once a month—as it combats its slowing user growth rate. It appears to work much like a spam filter, except instead of hiding bots and copy-paste marketers, it screens “threats, offensive language, [and] duplicate content” out of your notifications feed. The product was still in beta and was being tested by a dozen or so organizations, including the NYC Mayor’s office and Italy’s major network, Mediaset.

On Tuesday — with the help of some sockpuppets and obliging Twitter friends — I ran a little experiment to figure out exactly what that means and how well it works. But starting today, any media organization will now be able to get its hands on the new service, which will make integrating tweets and other content into their TV newscasts, programs, websites or mobile apps quicker and easier. First I registered a bunch of throwaway Twitter handles under fake e-mail addresses and tweeted rude things to myself. (This is, FYI, a process that takes roughly 60 seconds per account — which is why Twitter’s struggled to control it.) Later, I asked my followers to tweet mean things to me, even persuading one of my very nice co-workers to tweet that she was going to kill me. Queries can be further refined by follower counts, location, languages and more to create collections of the most relevant Tweets pertaining to that topic. Curator also gives organizations more ways to collect specific types of tweets or Vines, much like Storify, which is already used by many media organizations (Mashable included).

A number of third-party partners such as Flowics, Spredfast and Livefyre’s Storify already offer paid-for services that enable, for example, tweets to show on TV screens during live basketball games. In pretty much every case, Twitter’s quality filter blocked the outrageously obscene and threatening tweets, while still allowing the merely critical and disagreeable in. For example, a news organization might choose to use the product to show viewer reactions in real-time during their telecast, or a government agency might display a Twitter feed alongside a live-streamed speech. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was among the people invited to beta-test Curator, and his office used the tool to create a customized twitter feed of a recent press conference: This new service is very similar to that offered by Storify, although the latter draws from platforms like Facebook and YouTube in addition to Twitter. Twitter says its tool will be free, yet a pared-down version of these products. “There are a lot of people who need to find the most compelling Twitter content and use it and we’re helping to fill in those holes,” said Mark Ghuneim, Twitter’s director of business development.

It blocked, for instance, various one-word expletives, comments on my appearance, all tweets (offensive and not) from my obvious troll accounts, spammy messages from some guy who tweets me the same thing all the time, and my co-worker’s promise to “kill you” (me). While initially designed to meet the needs of media organizations, Curator could also be used in an entertainment context as well, doing things like showing hashtag references during a TV show, or displaying tweets on the big screen at a music concert or festival, for example. Since its launch in 2010, for instance, Storify has established itself as the curation tool of choice among countless journalists, agencies and brands, from BBC, CNN, and The Wall Street Journal to Ford, GE, and HBO. If the mayor’s office wanted to surface social media content from, say, Instagram or Facebook then they might prefer to turn to third-party services like Spredfast’s Experiences product, which pulls content from over a dozen sources and offers more creative display options. In other words, the quality filter — like the thing protecting your inbox from spam — is pretty sophisticated; it’s not perfect, and it’s not a cure-all, but it does more than just skim out tweets with swear words.

But what makes the service powerful for its users are the variety of ways it’s able to filter the Twitter “firehose” – meaning, the full stream of all the posts taking place on Twitter’s network – in real-time. It also might appear to encroach on the market for third-party tools that glean insights from Twitter data, but Twitter says Curator isn’t intended to as a replacement for such tools.

Spreadfast’s Experiences counts media giants such as Viacom, NBC Universal as its clients, as well as Pepsi, General Mills and the National Basketball Association. Using Curator, companies can find and filter these tweets by a range of factors, including keywords, authors (@ handles), location, language, time zone, follower count, number of re-tweets or favorites, verified users, and much more. Also, the tweets aren’t deleted or blocked or otherwise “censored.” They’re still available on the tweeter’s public feed, and even in the recipient’s notifications tab on desktop.

Access to Curator is limited to publishers, defined by Twitter as including “news organizations, production companies, broadcasters, local governments, and even concert venues.” You can request access here. More from WSJ.D: And make sure to visit WSJ.D for all of our news, personal tech coverage, analysis and more, and add our XML feed to your favorite reader. In addition, the service has the ability to natively search through Twitter’s video network Vine for relevant videos, and it can pull up popular live-streamed Periscope videos by using the filters combined with the appropriate keyword. But critics have called those changes cosmetic, and plenty of high-profile Twitter-users — including the U.S. ambassador to Libya and actress Ashley Judd — have since fallen victim to abuse.

He also describes it as more of a “baseline” product which third-parties can extend by offering things like design customization or support on top of Twitter’s free service. “That’s where the opportunities pick up for others,” he says. “We’re there to enable and partner with them.” Unlike with Twitter’s embed functionality, Curator doesn’t dictate how the tweets should appear on the webpages or screens where they’re later displayed. All content published by MediaPost is determined by our editors 100% in the interest of our readers … independent of advertising, sponsorships or other considerations. As a free product with no plans to include premium features or integrate advertising, Curator is more about helping impact Twitter’s bottom line by helping the company’s tweets be shown to a larger, if not “logged-in,” audience.

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