Twitter announced a new feature today aimed at surfacing “the stories behind a tweet.” If a tweet has been embedded into a news story, those headlines (and seemingly, other relevant headlines as well) will be displayed below the tweet. For example:
This year when NBA center Jason Collins became the first NBA player to publicly come out, the news traveled quickly on Twitter. As outlets like ESPN, MSNBC and sports blog Bleacher Report reported the story, they embedded @jasoncollins34’s Tweet and then provided additional context that wasn’t available directly on Twitter.
With the new feature, those headlines would be displayed as an attachment to Jason Collins’ original tweet.
Some seem to think the headlines feature is aimed at undercutting the snarky joy that is sub-tweeting; others argue it’s a move towards increasing ad revenue. In some ways, it also recalls Google’s announcement earlier this month that it had developed a feature that would would surface in depth articles based on certain search queries. While the content being highlighted is different, both projects are aimed at providing informative background information that the searcher may not even realize she needed.
It’s also a useful reminder that every little widget you embed on your page — that Facebook Like button, that Quora quote, that lovely tweet — is also a data beacon sending information back to the tech company that built that little <iframe> for you to drop into your post body.