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Twitter in 2021: A Look Back at Key Features Introduced, and Removed, This Year

Twitter rolled out Ticketed Spaces which allow creators to generate revenue from Spaces.

Twitter in 2021: A Look Back at Key Features Introduced, and Removed, This Year

While Twitter added a lot of new features, there were significant features that were removed too

Highlights
  • Twitter’s daily active users grew to 211 million in Q3 2021
  • Many features were added to Twitter Spaces to rival Clubhouse
  • The Revue Subscription Button is only available for a test group

Twitter introduced a lot of new features in 2021 to enhance user experience, to let users monetise, and also to keep Twitter safe. Twitter said in its shareholder letter that its monetisable daily active users grew 13 percent year-over-year to 211 million in Q3 2021. While a lot of new features and updates were added, there were significant features that were removed too, including Fleets and Periscope. 2021 also saw the introduction of Twitter Spaces — where users can hold live audio conversations, just like Clubhouse.

Here is a list of the key features which Twitter introduced and removed in 2021:

January 2021

Birdwatch

Twitter launched Birdwatch to empower users to collaboratively add helpful notes to tweets which may be misleading. People in the pilot are able to publicly offer helpful context on tweets that they believe contain misleading information. Birdwatch is on a separate section of Twitter, and only pilot participants who apply to the programme, will be able to write posts identifying and rebutting misinformation. Their notes will initially not be visible on Twitter for users outside of the pilot group but will be visible on the Birdwatch site.

Birdwatch is still being tested on Twitter on iOS and Android and the Web in the US.

March 2021

Periscope

Twitter shut down Periscope which it had bought in 2015, due to declining usage over the past couple of years and high supporting costs.

May 2021

Twitter Spaces

Twitter introduced Spaces for live audio conversations on the platform. Since then, the microblogging site has added many features to Twitter Spaces to rival Clubhouse. Earlier this month, Twitter Spaces announced that it is getting a podcast-like feature which allows users to listen to a recording of the discussions on the platform.

Auto-Crop

Since Auto-Crop was removed, tweets which include a single, standard aspect ratio image now appear uncropped. Authors of tweets can see a preview of what the image will look like in the tweet composer tool before it's posted.

Tips

Tips allowed users to support their favourite voices on Twitter by tipping them. Tips allowed people to receive and show support with money. Payments can be made through third party services like PayPal, Patreon, Razorpay, and more. People can choose to add Tips to their profile through their account settings. In September, Twitter also added the option to Tip people using Bitcoin.

New Verification Application

This year Twitter began once again reviewing public applications for the blue check mark. Eligibility criteria became more transparent. Twitter also started to roll out account labels to allow accounts to self-identify — beginning with good bots (or automated accounts). Good bots help people find useful, entertaining, and relevant information every day - from sharing art masterpieces, to notifying people of earthquakes, to even just reminding you to get some fresh air.

June 2021

Twitter Blue

Twitter Blue is a subscription service offered by the platform. Twitter Blue brings in a host of features such as the ability to undo tweets and reading some news articles without advertisements, among others.

Twitter Blue, which costs $2.99 (roughly Rs. 222) per month in the US, also includes the ability to read some news articles without advertisements, upload longer videos, and customise the navigation bar in the Twitter app.

Feminine Arabic

Twitter launched a new language setting that acknowledges and better supports the Arabic feminine form. People who select this setting will be addressed in the feminine form, for example, “Tweet” will be غرّدي (which addresses women) rather than the default Arabic today, which is غرّد (addressing men). The feature is available on Twitter Web.

Ticketed Spaces

Twitter rolled out Ticketed Spaces which allow creators to generate revenue from the Spaces — live audio rooms — they host by charging a ticket price. Creators are given up to 97 percent of the revenue earned from tickets purchased to their Ticketed Spaces till they reach a certain milestone.

July 2021

Updating Misinformation Labels

Twitter started testing a new label design with more context to help you better understand why a Tweet may be misleading.

August 2021

Fleets

Twitter shut down its Fleets on August 3, eight months after it was launched. The company said that it didn't see an increase in the number of new people joining the conversation with Fleets as they hoped.

AP, Reuters Partnership

Twitter announced that it will partner with the Associated Press and Reuters to more quickly provide credible information on the social networking site as part of an effort to fight the spread of misinformation.

Revue Subscription

Earlier this year, Twitter acquired Revue, a service that makes it free and easy for anyone to start and publish editorial newsletters, as part of an effort to expand its business and give writers who distribute their work on Twitter more features. In August, Twitter launched a way for newsletter creators to add a subscribe button directly on their Twitter Profiles. As of now the Revue Subscription Button is only available for a test group on Android and Web.

September 2021

Safety Mode

Safety Mode is a feature which Twitter is testing with a small group of people including female journalists and people from marginalised communities to better protect the individual on the receiving end of tweets by reducing the prevalence and visibility of harmful remarks. Safety Mode temporarily auto-block accounts that respond to your Tweets with potentially harmful language — such as insults or hateful remarks — or those that send repetitive and uninvited replies or mentions. Safety Mode is being tested on Twitter for iOS and Android with a select set of users with English-language settings enabled.

Edge-to-Edge Media

Twitter upgraded the quality of photos and videos posted to Twitter and began testing edge-to-edge tweets so your photos, GIFs, and videos can have more room. The feature is currently being tested on Twitter for iOS and Android.

Choose who follows you

Without directly blocking someone, users have the option to go in, tap through to their list of followers and actively remove that person from following them. The feature is available on Twitter for the Web.

Communities

Twitter started testing Communities on the platform in September. When you join a Community, you can tweet directly to that group instead of to all your followers. Only members in the same Community are able to reply and join a conversation, and Communities are managed by moderators. Communities is available on Twitter for iOS and Web. Twitter is expecting to launch the Android app functionality before the end of the year.

Super Follows

Super Follows gives creators the opportunity to earn monthly revenue by sharing tweets meant only for paying subscribers. With Super Follows, people can create an extra level of conversation on Twitter and interact authentically with their most engaged followers — all while earning money — through a monthly subscription. Super Follows are only available on Twitter for iOS for a select set of US creators, though anyone around the world can Super Follow those creators.

December 2021

Automatic Captions

Twitter rolled out automatic captions this week. The auto-captions feature currently support 37 languages. Since translation is not live on Twitter, the captions will show in the language of the device used to upload the clip originally. Auto captions will appear on videos which are muted on both iOS and Android. Desktop users, on the other hand, can switch them on and off. Hearing-challenged users can now watch videos on Twitter with auto-captions on, widening access to more users on the platform.


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Jasmin Jose
Jasmin Jose is a sub-editor at Gadgets 360. She has directed investigative documentaries, PSAs, and video features covering arts, culture, science, and general news in the past.  She believes in the power of the Internet and is constantly looking out for the next new technology that is going to transform life on earth. When not doing things news, she can be found reading fiction, physics or philosophy, plucking berries, or talking cinema. Write to her at jasminj@ndtv.com or get in touch on ...More
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