This morning, Twitter launched a new service called Moments, which aims to help its greener users see the best content that the platform has to offer. An editorial team at Twitter will be curating news, sports, entertainment, and fun stories for users to review and follow in their timelines. But shortly after Twitter's announcement, a former employee of the company, Mark S. Luckie, who previously worked as the Manager of Journalism and News at Twitter, debuted a service of his own designed to serve a more specific section of Twitter. "Today In #BlackTwitter" is Luckie's own attempt to make sure that newer tweeters aren't missing the top stories and moments of the day.
In a post on Medium announcing the service, Luckie wrote, "TIBT aims to encapsulate the discourse on the social media platform that occurred in the previous 24 hours — from cultural happenings and politics to entertainment and viral comedy." For now, it takes the form of a daily post on Medium that gives a brief play-by-play of what went down on Twitter, with a bent to black interests.
In an email conversation with The FADER, Luckie explained where he got the idea for the service and why it's completely necessary.
How did the idea for this come about?
The idea came about several months ago when I kept missing trending hashtags and stories going viral in the #BlackTwitter network, either because I was logged out that day or wasn't following the right people. I wanted to build something for people like me who wanted to know what was going on in their online community.
Any thoughts on why you decided to publish on Medium? Is there a newsletter coming?
I published on Medium because it's really easy to use and get up and running quickly. Also, it has its own built-in social network which will aid in discovery. The daily digest may change formats or get additional features but for now it's a good place to start.
The release coincides with the debut of Moments, which attempts to do a similar thing for Twitter users—that is, round up things that people have missed. How do you think Twitter can serve its diverse audiences better?
The timing was pure coincidence and speaks to people's desire to cut through the noise and find the stories that are most important to them. In most cases, Twitter builds the platform's features for 100% of users. This leaves the door open for developers to build cool and interesting ideas on top of it. For me, diversity has always been incredibly important so I wanted to highlight the newsworthy conversations of the estimated 26% of Black people that use Twitter.
I couldn't help but notice how well your product seems to mirror concerns of some Twitter users, especially this one—will Today in #BlackTwitter dip into any of the mass discussions like the ones named in that tweet?
I thought carefully about what "Today in #BlackTwitter" would look like. I wanted to make sure it was relevant. Because the digest is based on an algorithm that pulls just hashtags, links and Twitter accounts rather than words or phrases, it's less likely to pull trivial tweets. I use my experience as a journalist to make sure everything that's tweeted or included in the digest is newsworthy in some way.
In your announcement letter, you said, "The roundup is not intended to be exploitative, only enlightening for all readers. It is not an attempt to explain 'Black Twitter.'" It made me wonder, who is your intended reader for this?
The intended reader is Twitter users who are interested in topics related to Black culture. This includes African-Americans, people around the world and news organizations who want to keep their finger on the pulse of Twitter. The conversations that Black people have on the platform often go on to become national news stories. I want tweeps to know what's trending before it becomes an actual trending topic.
And has any particular reaction to your launch surprised you at all?
I had reservations going into this that #BlackTwitter would be resistant to seeing itself represented in such a way. But people have been really receptive and have told me how needed this was. Being Black and a former employee of Twitter definitely helps give it credibility. We'll see what happens as it goes along.
Today in #BlackTwitter is an experiment that can evolve based on Twitter users' feedback. For now, I'm glad to have something that pulls together the news I've been wanting to read, all in one place.