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Ever wanted to share a stream of tweets and discussions that goes beyond a simple feed of updates using a hashtag or keyword? Twitter wants to help you out. The social media site has begun rolling out what it’s calling “custom timelines”, essentially giving you the ability to hand-pick tweets and include them in a curated list on any topic. Yep, it’s basically cloned Storify.
Okay, so that’s a slight over dramatisation, but if you’re familiar with the social media curation service, you have to admit they are pretty similar. Both allow you to use publicly available posts to tell a story around a specific discussion or event, although Storify does have the ability to pull in posts from Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Flickr and general URLs, and Twitter’s tool only uses updates from, well, Twitter. According to Twitter’s Brian Ellin, users can create timelines manually or more systematically using the API to create a feed of what they feel are the most noteworthy or important tweets.
The roll-out of custom timelines is a gradual one — at the moment, you can only create one using TweetDeck, although they can be viewed on the web publicly via a dedicated URL once you’re done. If you’re a user of Twitter’s social media publishing tool, then you may have already noticed the pop up instructions informing you about how to create your first custom timeline. TweetDeck now has an extra option in its add column menu which allows you to set up a timeline, which you can then name and drag and drop tweets to. You can also share the direct URL to the timeline or create a customised stream to embed on your website, as Twitter has included the option as part of its widgets toolkit.
As Ellin points out in the announcement, the tool could be used by brands to collect tweets around a specific topic, or by journalists hoping to cut through the rumours and misinformation and point out the authoritative voices discussing a breaking news event. POLITICO is already using the beta version of the custom timelines API to create a tweet hub to track conversations around energy from reporters, influencers and lawmakers using its own search and keyword criteria. Oh, and Twitter Music is showing off the new functionality with a curated feed of tweets from superstars.
There’s no word as to when (or if) the ability to discover or create timelines will move outside TweetDeck and be available as an option on Twitter’s own site, although Ellin hints that that may not always be the case.
— Brian Ellin (@brianellin) November 13, 2013