Blog

Twitter tunes into Audio

Posted 18.06.20

Twitter announced yesterday (June 17) it was launching a feature that allows users to record and attach audio clips to tweets. 

The feature launched to “a limited number of users” yesterday and will only be available on iOS. Twitter will allow users to record 140 seconds of audio adding “a more human touch to the way we use Twitter” according to Twitter’s Maya Patterson and Rémy Bourgoin

Initially, at least, users won’t be able to use audio on replies or retweets with a comment and every audio tweet will include your current profile photo as the background image of the audio tweet. 

 

WHY NOW?

Twitter has not been a platform known for innovation, extending the character count and conversation card ads are about as far as it has gone but with the recent attempted ousting of part-time CEO Jack Dorsey and investment from wealth fund Elliott Management, changes have been on the cards. 

Not only that, but Twitter has been well placed as the online centre of the recent #BlackLivesMatter protests happening across the world and is the first place many go for their news. One application Twitter suggested this new product launch could have, is to help journalists and citizens report from protests.  

This is a hugely important cultural moment and by giving users new ways to communicate Twitter can really double-down on its growth, which is currently reported to be at a 24% increase in daily active users from this time last year. 

 

WHY AUDIO?

Audio is booming. The average mobile user in the US spends 62 minutes each day listening to digital audio which is more than social networking, watching video, gaming, and messaging.  

This is an area that other platforms have not taken seriously and will give Twitter another opportunity to ensure it remains the platform of choice for immediacy and in the moment news.  

One issue that Twitter seemingly doesn’t have an answer for is how it will moderate voice recordings. Jason Koebler raised this issue in a piece yesterday for Vice outlining that the platform still has huge issues with both the harassment of LGBTQ+ users and with white supremacist groups. 

“Twitter already doesn’t do a great job of kicking white supremacists and Nazis off the platform, and it has now given them a new mechanism to harass people.” 

As Koebler mentions, audio is a far harder medium to moderate and will require Twitter to double its efforts in this area or find new ways of using AI to identify and remove content that violates its guidelines. 

Not only this, but Twitter hasn’t given details of how deaf and hard-of-hearing users will use the feature saying it is “still exploring the best ways to meet the needs of people with different abilities”.

 

If, and it’s a big if, Twitter can get a handle on the complex issues that audio presents, then this could be a hugely popular progression of the platform and a new way to report and access news and current events.   

 

Tom Jarvis – Founder & Managing Director, Wilderness Agency