Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Press Coverage of Twitter’s Announcements From Today

“Wait, Nick,” you begin, “Twitter’s announcements? As in, with an ‘s’?”

Indeed, dear reader, Twitter made two announcements today, but if you were looking at much of the press coverage, you might have only heard about one. Ingrid Lunden, Techcrunch:

Today Twitter is unveiling a new video ad unit called First View. Advertisers opting for a First View position will essentially jump to the front of the queue in Twitter’s ad network, getting the top ad spot the first time a person opens Twitter, for a period of 24 hours.

At launch, First View will be video only — pushing Twitter’s drive to expand its offerings in rich media.

Autoplaying video placed in the first position in a user’s timeline is only slightly less intrusive than an interstitial ad, but no matter — I’m more interested in the second thing Twitter introduced today that received less coverage than I think it should have. It’s called the Trust and Safety Council; Patricia Cartes explains:

To ensure people can continue to express themselves freely and safely on Twitter, we must provide more tools and policies. With hundreds of millions of Tweets sent per day, the volume of content on Twitter is massive, which makes it extraordinarily complex to strike the right balance between fighting abuse and speaking truth to power. It requires a multi-layered approach where each of our 320 million users has a part to play, as do the community of experts working for safety and free expression.

They have a long list of advocacy and outreach organizations they’re working with to try to improve Twitter’s quality of dialogue, all of which represent topics of concern — bullying, LGBT rights, crime, youth safety, and the harassment of women. It’s a great start to tackling such vital platform-wide issues, but that it took this long to look into this shows a massive disconnect between the priorities of Twitter as a company and Twitter’s users.

A thought exercise: imagine if just half of the effort that went into developing new advertising formats instead went to combatting bullying and harassment online.