The Top Twitter Updates You Need to Know: January 2021


Any brand using Twitter as part of its social media marketing plan likely recognizes Twitter updates each month. Those updates can include everything from a Twitter story update, to users changing who can reply to Tweets, to increased context around Twitter trends.

Staying on top of new Twitter updates can help your brand make the most of the social media platform and try out the new features. And that will also help you leverage your Twitter marketing strategy.

While changes and updates are always being made, here are the new Twitter updates for October 2020 that are most relevant to businesses and brands. Jump back to see Twitter updates in previous months.

Top Twitter updates you need to know in 2021

January Twitter updates 2021

The application process to get a blue check mark is making a comeback this year and no one is above permanent Twitter suspension.

The Twitter verification program might be relaunching

For anyone who’s been waiting a long time — like, three years — to get that coveted blue check mark, 2021 might be your year.

After considering feedback from the public, Twitter launched its new verification policy. Changes include:

  • Not needing a profile bio or header image to receive verification.
  • The minimum follower count is on a per-region basis, and no longer on a per-country basis.
  • More strict rules around how the blue check mark is removed.
  • There will be categories for verification, like academics and scientists. And those categories will be expanded next year.

Starting January 20, 2021, verification badges from inactive or incomplete accounts will be removed.

Twitter announced that the new application process will be “self-serve” and using “both automated and human review processes to ensure that we are reviewing applications thoughtfully and in a timely manner.”

But before you get too excited, know that the formal application process doesn’t open on January 20th. There’s still a little more waiting to do.

More details are expected soon.

Source: Twitter Blog

Suspending accounts that threaten violence against others

After the violent events at the US Capitol on January 6, Twitter announced it was permanently suspending @realDonaldTrump for violating Twitter Rules.

Specifically, Twitter assessed two Tweets he sent on January 8 under its Glorification of Violence policy and found that “they were highly likely to encourage and inspire people to replicate the criminal acts that took place at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.”

More information on Twitter’s stance against glorifying or encouraging violence can be found here.

December Twitter updates 2020

Internal updates aim to improve diversity, transparency and inclusion. For the general user, updates were made to help with the spread of fact-based vaccine information.

Removing false information around COVID-19 vaccines

In late December, Twitter announced updates aimed to help stop the spread of false information related to the COVID-19 vaccine. As well as removing harmfully false Tweets that make unsubstantiated claims, Twitter has begun labelling Tweets that might have misleading information about the vaccine.

Both humans and technology review Tweets to check for false claims. And Twitter is working in consultation with numerous health authorities to enforce the policy.

Twitter says this update might go further in 2021, with a warning placed on Tweets that are advancing rumours or falsehoods.

Updates to Twitter’s internal diversity dashboard

Back in 2019, Twitter created an internal diversity dashboard to track how well the company was meeting its diversity and inclusion goals.

This month, an update was made to the dashboard. Twitter explains to the public that version 3.0 version provides “visibility across the board to give Tweeps the opportunity to critically examine how their team is doing [regarding diversity] and be part of the solution.”

November Twitter updates 2020

This month, Twitter users were given more posting options with the introduction of Fleets. Advertisers were given more options with the global introduction of Carousel ads. And Twitter amplified the issue of gender violence through important partnerships.

Twitter partners with UN Women and UN Human Rights Office to spread awareness of gender violence

Twitter is well aware that as 2020 progressed, the world has seen a “shadow pandemic.” Simply, violence against women has surged as lockdowns to control COVID-19 continue. This month, Twitter partnered with both UN Women and UN Human Rights Office to bring awareness to violence against women and the unequal impact the pandemic has had on them.

Through this partnership, Twitter launched several custom emojis to amplify the conversation around the topic. For example, there is now a custom emoji for #GenerationEquality:

And for #OrangeTheWorld:

Plus, Twitter supported non-profits fighting gender violence by offering Ads for Good grants so they can reach a wider audience.

It also expanded how it’s able to offer support to those who need help. On its blog, Twitter explained: “When people search terms associated with gender-based violence on Twitter, they will receive a notification with contact information for local hotlines and other resources to encourage them to reach out for help.”

Fleets are now a thing

There’s a brand new way to converse on Twitter. And it’s perfect for those who are overwhelmed by the thought of sharing permanent thoughts on Twitter for anyone to see, whenever they want.

Enter, Fleets.

To use Fleets, type something, or share a video or a photo, just like you would for a regular Tweet. But with Fleets, you don’t have to feel any pressure before it goes live. That’s because the content is only live for 24 hours before it disappears.

You can think of Fleets as similar to Instagram Stories or Facebook Stories or Snaps.

Basically, Fleets are ideal for passing thoughts. Because they disappear after 24 hours, the shy Twitter user can feel more comfortable about being a little more vocal on the platform.

This month, Twitter resurfaced a topic important to many: Twitter verification

It’s been impossible to get that coveted blue check mark for the last few years. You know, the accounts that have a blue checkmark next to the account name. Like this:

New users couldn’t get verification because in 2017, the Twitter verification program was paused and no new applications were accepted.

But this month, Twitter announced that it has plans to bring the program back. And it won’t be the same as before.

Twitter asked for the public’s input on its verification process, saying that feedback would help draft the new Twitter verification policy.

A new Twitter advertising form was released globally and it’s called Carousel ads

This new Carousel ad format provides advertisers with yet another option to try and meet their advertising goals.

Advertisers using Carousel ads can include between two and six swipeable photos or images in their ad. Each one of the images or videos will take the Twitter user to the advertiser’s website or app, if they click-through on one of the Carousel ad assets.

Already they’re showing promising results. Carousel ads used on the web have seen an average of a 15% increase in click-through rate. That’s compared to an ad with a single photo or video.

October Twitter updates 2020

This month, Twitter’s latest updates included changes that address limitations with machine learning and increased context.

Twitter celebrated National Disability Employment Awareness Month

At the end of the month, Twitter reintroduced Twitter Able with a new hashtag campaign #DisabledandAble that also has a custom emoji.

This campaign highlights the power of inclusivity, the value of having employees with a range of abilities of staff, and the benefits of allyship. On its blog, Twitter wrote: “We want it known that people can be both disabled workers and able workers — that disabled employees are not less than, not there to simply accommodate.”

The Twitter Able account, and the new #DisabledandAble campaign aims to provide resources and support for all who use and work with Twitter.

Changes are coming to reduce racial bias in automated image cropping

Problems with Twitter’s automated image cropping came up in September. It became clear that Twitter’s image-cropping algorithm defaulted to preview white faces:

In response to this, Twitter publicly announced that work needs to be done to reduce racial bias and improve how images are displayed.

Twitter acknowledged that the way the platform is programmed to automatically crop preview images could increase harm. It acknowledged it could reduce the visibility of the range of people who use Twitter. At the beginning of October, Twitter announced that it is working to limit its reliance on machine learning-based image cropping and give Twitter users more control over the Twitter image preview.

Moving forward, Twitter says: “We hope that giving people more choices for image cropping and previewing what they’ll look like in the Tweet composer may help reduce the risk of harm.”

Updates were made to help users consider Tweets carefully before Retweeting

Starting globally on October 20, a new Twitter update was made to encourage users to add their own thoughts and opinions to Tweets.

Source: Twitter for Business

A new Twitter update now prompts users to quote the Tweet. That means when someone clicks to Retweet, they are brought to the Quote Tweet composer and encouraged to type their own thoughts. The goal with this update is to get more users to consider why they are amplifying a Tweet, and then add to that conversation.

There are changes to the “Liked By” and “Followed By” recommendations

It was announced this month that new Twitter updates will be made to prevent “liked by” and “followed by” recommendations from people you don’t already follow from showing up in your timeline.

On its blog, Twitter explains: “We are removing them because we don’t believe the “Like” button provides sufficient, thoughtful consideration prior to amplifying Tweets to people who don’t follow the author of the Tweet, or the relevant topic that the Tweet is about.”

This Twitter update is intended to slow down how quickly users see Tweets from accounts they don’t follow and topics they don’t follow. This was also done to try and encourage thoughtful amplification of Tweets.

Prompts to encourage users to read more than just headlines came to iOS

Those who use the platform on iOS saw the launch of a new prompt this month. If a user tries to Retweet an article or story, but hasn’t opened the link to read it, they will see a pop-up question. Twitter will ask if they’d like to open the link before amplifying the content.

(To read about this update in more detail, and how it was initially launched for Android, scroll down to the June 2020 Twitter updates section of this blog post.)

September Twitter updates 2020

New Twitter updates this month were focused on context, accessibility and security.

Twitter added more context to Twitter trends

In early September, a Twitter update was made to help users better understand why something is trending in the Explore section. Twitter says its updates around context are about giving users more information so they can make up their own minds.

The update includes pinned Tweets to the trending section. Twitter says that the pinned Tweets are representative of the trend. They are chosen by both Twitter’s curation team and by algorithms.

The update also added brief descriptions to Tweets. The descriptions are “clearly sourced context around why something is trending,” according to a post on the Twitter Business blog.

For example, below is a description explaining why #GordDownie was trending in Canada in mid-October:

Both of these updates are meant to clarify to users why people are talking about the trend and to add clarity to an ongoing conversation.

Twitter commits to increasing inclusivity and accessibility

Twitter tested voice Tweets this summer. (Find more information on voice Tweets in the June 2020 section of this post.)

But after testing, Twitter says it: “…made us realize how much work we still need to do as a company, and we made a commitment to make Twitter more inclusive for the disabled community – creating a dedicated team to focus on greater accessibility, tooling, and advocacy across all of our products.”

As a result, Twitter has introduced two new teams. The Accessibility Center of Excellence and the Experience Accessibility Team will work to improve accessibility within Twitter’s corporate structure and the social media platform itself.

It is also working on specific Twitter updates relating to inclusivity and accessibility. Currently, Twitter is working to add automated captions to audio and video. This update is estimated to be ready by early 2021.

Improvements were made to the authentication systems and other security protocols

Near the end of September, Twitter said that it was continuing to work on improving security. Its September announcement included updates related to more rigorous checks with Twitter team members, and continuous improvement of internal detection and monitoring tools to alert the company of suspicious activity.

August Twitter updates 2020

New Twitter updates this month are changing how conversations take place on the social media platform, updating the development experience, and more.

Now, users can choose who’s able to reply to their Tweets

One of Twitter’s latest updates this August was a change to how conversations happen on the platform. Previously, anyone could reply to anyone’s Tweet. Now, users can select and change reply settings themselves.

The Twitter update means a user can choose a setting that allows everyone to reply. They can choose to have only their followers able to reply. Or they can choose to have only people who are mentioned in the Tweet able to reply.

And according to Twitter, these updates have helped some users feel safer, more protected from spam, and able to have more sensitive conversations.

There are new labels for specific Twitter accounts

As part of its effort to increase context for users, Twitter announced that new labels are added to two specific types of Twitter accounts.

Twitter users who are key government officials, including ambassadors, spokespeople and foreign ministers, will now have their account labelled. And Twitter users who are part of state-affiliated media entities will have their account labelled.

Twitter launched its Transparency Center

On August 19, Twitter announced that it rebuilt its biannual Twitter Transparency Report site into a new Transparency Center.

This is an entirely new website that compiles all of Twitter’s disclosed data. Data is visualized to make it easier to visualize trends. There’s also a country comparison tool, tips on key terms used on the site, and a history of transparency milestones.

Source: Twitter Transparency Center

Twitter launched its new application programming interface (API)

The API updates were designed to better serve the community of developers. The second generation Twitter API includes updates like:

  • A redesigned portal for developers, with easier onboarding
  • A new support section
  • An updated navigation system and improved landing pages

Plus, Twitter says it continues to improve its developer experience with new updates.

July Twitter updates 2020

This month Twitter experienced a significant security breach. As a result, the launch of the improved application programming interface (API) was pushed from July to August.

(Read more about the new Twitter update to the API above.)

June Twitter updates 2020

June saw the testing of voice Tweets, as well as a prompt to encourage opening and reading links before amplifying the content with a Retweet.

A notification encourages users to read links before Retweeting

A new Twitter update was released for Android users this month. Now, users will see a pop-up if they try to Retweet an article or story without opening the link to read what is written.

This prompt could help encourage users read beyond headlines, get a better sense of a topic, and encourage more informed discussion. This Twitter update expanded to iOS in October.

Source: Twitter

Twitter tested out Tweeting with your voice

On June 17, Twitter tested a new feature to add some variety to how Tweets are composed. Now, as well as typing your Tweet, you can record your voice and speak. Simply, you can share audio in a Tweet.

To send a voice Tweet, open Twitter on your mobile device. Then open the Composer and click on the purple wavelengths icon. Next, click on the record button and begin speaking.

The voice feature records 140 seconds of audio. If the message you’d like to share extends past 140 seconds, then a Twitter thread is automatically created.

Everyone is able to see the voice Tweets in their timeline, listen to them, and respond.

May Twitter updates 2020

This month, it got easier to read other Twitter users’ replies to your Tweets. Plus, you can now save unfinished Tweets right in the social media platform.

On iOS, you can now see replies to your Tweets in one place

One of the latest Twitter updates this spring makes it easier to read the replies you get to your Tweets.

As well as seeing the number of Retweets, social media marketers can click on Quote Retweets to see all the written replies.

Simply, all written replies are now listed in one place. This makes it easier to see and interact with those replies — and doing that could help your brand gain new Twitter followers.

(This Twitter update was initially shown as Retweet with Comment. Twitter updated this to read Quote Retweet in September.)

Schedule and save drafted Tweets from your desktop

This new Twitter update is useful for marketers who often find they begin writing a Tweet, but want to finish up the writing later on.

You can now save your Tweet as a draft natively. It’s similar to Hootsuite, where social media marketers can draft and schedule Tweets to publish.

Begin writing your Tweet in the Composer, as you usually would. To save it as an unfinished and unsent draft, click the cross in the Composer’s top left hand corner, like you are closing the Composer. This will open a pop-up, asking if you want to discard the Tweet or save it for later.

Click Save and the Tweet will be filed under Unsent Tweets. You will find all your Unsent Tweets when you reopen the Composer.

To schedule the Tweet to publish once it’s ready, click the calendar icon in the Composer. Then choose the specific day and time you want the Tweet to publish.

April Twitter updates 2020

Twitter updates this month made it easier to manage more than one Twitter account.

User interface improvements were made, making it easier to manage more than one Twitter account

In Twitter’s April release notes, Twitter announced a new update that makes it easier for social media managers to toggle between the multiple Twitter accounts they manage.

Now, all account management and log-out options are found in the bottom sidebar behind the profile image.

March Twitter updates 2020

The majority of the latest Twitter updates this month were related to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

An Event page just for COVID-19 launched

In early March, Twitter expanded the COVID-19 search prompt so users get credible information.

Another Twitter update included a new COVID-19 event page. On this event page, credible information and updates relating to the pandemic are displayed.

COVID 19 update page

Plus, in May 2020, Twitter created a tab in the Explore section specifically about COVID-19:

COVID-19 Explore tab

Twitter is verifying credible health sources and experts

While the Twitter verification process is on hold for the general public, Twitter is still verifying some accounts. This month, Twitter updates focused on verifying accounts related to the pandemic.

That meant Twitter was prioritizing verification for Twitter accounts that use an email address connected to an authoritative organization or institution, like a public health authority.

February Twitter updates 2020

This month’s latest Twitter updates included reactions to direct messages, the addition of alt text to GIFs, and easier-to-follow conversations.

Users can now react to DMs using emojis

One of Twitter’s latest updates this month was the addition of reactions to direct messages.

Instead of writing a short reply, you can use emojis to react to the DM your brand received. To add a reaction to a DM, hover over the heart-and-plus icon that appears next to the DM. That brings up seven emoji options, so you can share the reaction that best matches how you feel about the message.

Twitter users can add alt text to GIFs

In February 2020, you could already add alt text to images. Now, you can also add alt text to GIFs.

If you’re not sure what this means, know that alt text is simply a written description. Alt text explains what is happening in the GIF or image. This makes your Tweet’s visuals more accessible and helps all users understand the context, particularly users who are visually impaired.

Replies to Tweet are easier to understand
Starting this month, it will be easier to see entire conversations. You won’t just see a reply without context around what the user was replying to.

When a user visits another user’s profile, their replies will be displayed as conversations. Without additional clicks to find the context, you will be able to quickly and easily see what that person was replying to.

January Twitter updates 2020

At the start of 2020, Twitter’s latest update focused on Promoted Trend Spotlight.

Twitter’s prime ad spot is now paired with video

A new type of Twitter ad was introduced this month: Promoted Trend Spotlight.

This ad type can support video, GIFs or static images. And the ad always appears at the top of the Explore tab, where trending topics and hashtags appear. This is a prime location for advertisers to connect with their audience.

Source: Twitter for Business

These ads appear at the top of the Explore tab for two visits per person, per day. After that, the ad moved out of the spotlight and into the standard Promoted Trend placement.

Manage your Twitter presence alongside your other social channels and save time using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard, you can schedule and publish posts, engage the audience, and measure performance. Try it free today.

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