August 10, 2022

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Twitter has today launched a new test of a reformatted Explore tab, which displays tweets...

Twitter has today launched a new test of a reformatted Explore tab, which displays tweets in a full-screen, vertical scrolling format.

Looks familiar right? Down to the ‘For you’ and ‘Trending’ tabs.

The display is pretty much exactly TikTok, with a Twitter navigation bar at the bottom, once again underlining the massive influence that TikTok has had on social app development, as every platform scrambles to keep up with the latest trend.

You could argue that the Stories format had a similar effect, with almost every platform trying their hand at full-screen, tap-to-advance posts too. But the TikTok effect seems even more pronounced, and with a billion users and counting, it does make some sense that other apps should look to align with habitual trends in an effort to provide a more compelling user experience.

It just feels a little cheap, I guess, a little generic, like they’re all doing the exact same thing.

In any event, emotional response to such doesn’t really matter – what matters is whether it gets people using Twitter more, and discovering new content through this format.

Which I do have doubts about. The main allure of TikTok in this respect is that it’s so compelling, because its algorithm is very good at showing you more and more of what you like, which keeps you glued to the feed. Instagram’s Reels feed is not as good at the same, and going on the topics and content Twitter recommends in my Explore feed right now, I don’t have confidence that it will be able to master this element either.

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The algorithm is really TikTok’s secret sauce, and it seems like every platform is now trying to crack it. Instagram does seem to be getting closer, but I’ve yet to experience anything as continually compelling as TikTok’s ‘For You’ feed for aimless, addictive entertainment.

So while Twitter may be able to replicate the UI, that’s really a lesser element – though it will be interesting to see whether Twitter sees more Explore engagement as a result, which will then see it roll out the new display more broadly.

Right now, the new Explore display is in test mode ‘in certain countries’, though India, where TikTok was massive before it was banned, appears to be the primary focus.