Twitter overhauls search and discovery

The new features aim to help you more easily find the tweets, people, and news users are likely to be most interested in.    

Mar 3, 2020, 4:44 am*

Internet Culture

Kris Holt 

Kris Holt

Mere weeks after personalizing trending topics, Twitter has unveiled new search and discovery features that aim to help you find the tweets, people, and news users are likely to be most interested in more easily.

Together, the overhaul suggests that Twitter is trying to customize the user experience in every conceivable direction. In this instance, the main new search features create an autocomplete option and the ability to view search results solely from people you follow.

The former adopts a Google-like tool where Twitter tries to guess the topic you’re searching for as you’re typing it. As you type the word or phrase you’re looking for, Twitter will show you a drop-down list of suggestions to help you get to where you’re going a little faster.

The search results will then show the most relevant tweets and accounts, along with the most significant images, videos, and news articles related to your search query. If you happen to misspell a word you’re looking for, Twitter will offer spelling corrections.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for tweets and people linked to a topic that tweeters use multiple search terms for, Twitter will offer relevant suggestions. For instance, if you’re looking for information related to Sunday’s Wimbledon final and search for “Andy Murray,” Twitter might suggest that you search for “Roger Federer”-related details too.

One of the key updates is the option to few search results solely from people you follow. While Twitter’s long given you the chance to switch between top tweets and the most recent 140-character messages using a certain phrase or word, you can now hit a “People you follow” link instead. This can prove especially useful if you catch something interesting in your timeline, but it floats on by in the river of tweets. If you remember a certain word or phrase used in that tweet, it should now be easier to find again.

Twitter’s gradually pushing these updates out to everyone through its website, while the related search suggestions, autocomplete, and corrections are coming to its iPhone and Twitter applications as well.

The first indication of the new-look search and discovery features leaked Thursday when Pankaj Gupta, who leads Twitter’s personalization and recommender systems group, tweeted: “Search & discovery in @twitter set to change forever after tmrw.”

The new tools aren’t exactly as groundbreaking as say, finally letting you search tweets older than a few days old, though they should certainly come in useful.

With 340 million tweets every day as of March, finding tweets and tweeters which match your interests can be an overwhelming proposition. The search and discover updates will go a long way towards resolving that issue.

Photo by chase_elliott

Share this article
*First Published: Jul 6, 2012, 3:52 pm