Twitter rolls out controversial new conversations view

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This is going to be a serious bug bear for some Twitter users. The social network has rolled out updates to its iOS and Android apps which it claims will make it easier to follow conversations.

From now on, says Twitter, tweets that are part of a conversation are shown in chronological order. The new system allows you to see up to three tweets in sequence in your home timeline; if you want to see more, you can tap a Tweet to see all the replies, including those from people you don’t follow.

The update also means that you can now share conversations over email from Twitter.com rather than individual tweets. On iPhone and Android, you can share individual tweets over email, and on Android you can share via direct message (DM) as well.

Additionally, you can now report individual tweets for abuse or spam directly from Twitter for Android and Twitter.com. This feature will be rolling out gradually; it’s already available on Twitter for iPhone.

While the need for this feature in particular was highlighted by the abuse directed at a number of female UK journalists in late July, it’s the revamped conversations that have everybody talking.

There have been suggestions that Twitter is rolling out the updates in a bid to attract more revenue as it prepares to go public.

As GigaOm’s Om Malik notes, if Twitter is to go public then it needs to push up revenue (past US$1-billion) and user numbers (past 400-million).

As things stand it should get the user numbers fairly easily, but while the US$580-million worth of revenue it’s set to bring in this year is nothing to sneeze at, it’s nowhere near US$1-billion.

And if it wants to get those revenues then it needs to reassure advertisers that its users are spending enough time on it to see their adverts. How does it do that? By making its feed a little bit more like Facebook’s.

In fact, it’s just the latest in a series of steps its taken to get people to spend more time on Twitter: think about its photo product and its acquisition of Vine. Those are products are cool in their own right to be sure, but they also encourage people to be on Twitter for longer.

That said, Facebook’s own changes haven’t always been welcomed by its users and the new conversations view on Twitter is likely to do the same. As The Next Web reports, Twitter’s own UK head admitted to finding the changes unsettling before saying that he now finds them indispensable.

We’d also posit that the last thing any hardcore Twitter user wants is something that’s more like Facebook.

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