Is it too much to ask for social media companies to come up with something new? Apparently so, since all of them are determined to copy rival TikTok’s every move. The newest copycat is Twitter. Yes, that Twitter, the last platform in your mental list of places to go to watch “cool” or “interesting” videos.
Twitter on Thursday unveiled two new updates that make it look a lot more like the video feeds of Instagram Reels, Meta’s copy of TikTok, although the official line is the features are designed “to help make it easier to find and watch what’s happening,” the company said in its blog. As a way to justify its copycat ways, the company made an effort to point out that “videos shared on Twitter receive billions of combined views every year (that’s billions with a “b”).” OK Twitter, I believe you. Not sure Elon Musk will, but you don’t care what that man thinks, right?
The first update, which has already popped up in my Twitter app, adds a new video carousel section to the platform’s “For you” section in the “Explore” tab.
According to Twitter, the video carousel will feature trending videos and videos you may like. It’s currently available to people using the Twitter app in English on iOS and Android in select countries.
“With our new video carousel, you can now easily find more videos you like alongside Tweets and Trends that might interest you,” the company wrote in its blog. “Just open the Explore tab to discover some of the most popular videos being shared on Twitter.”
Secondly, Twitter has also added a feature for videos that appear in user feeds. Click on them and they’ll expand to full-screen videos, or what Twitter calls “immersive viewing,” just like what you see on TikTok.
But wait, what if you want to watch even more full-screen videos after you finish the current one you’re watching? When you’re in immersive viewing mode, you can continue to watch videos on Twitter by simply scrolling up. This will activate the app’s video discovery feature, which will show you new videos. You can do the same thing when you’re watching videos in the carousel in the Explore tab.
To exit immersive viewing mode, click on the back arrow icon located on the upper left-hand side of the screen. You can see what it looks like below.
The immersive viewing and discovery features in feed aren’t rolled out to all users yet but will be showing up to folks using the Twitter app in English on iOS over the next few days.
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve tried out the new video carousel in the Explore tab, which certainly was… something. It was full of things I personally would never watch, including various cosplaying videos (although I think cosplay is very cool and fun, I don’t normally watch videos about it), gaming streams, and basketball videos.
All of this goes to show that it’s not so easy to make a video feed that people actually want to use. As for those that do make it look easy, that’s called talent—or TikTok.