Twitter Testing Temporary Follows For Olympics News Updates

The 2016 Olympics is going to be everywhere this summer and there aren't going to be many places to go to escape it. Twitter is one of the places that you definitely expect to be able to catch up with what's going but it might be even easier to catch up with what's going on then you think.

Since Twitter Moments was released it has always been possible to temporarily follow an event. It happened with Brexit and last month's political conventions but it's the first time it's happened with a sport. This time, you do have to opt-in but if you do for the 17 days of the Olympics you'll receive curated tweets about the event.

This feature is available in nine different countries (Brazil, Australia, Japan, Mexico, Germany, France, Canada, the UK and the USA) and users in each country will have tweets curated with them in mind. If you're in Japan you'll see a lot of tweets in Japanese about the Japanese team and so on. You can also tailor it further so you receive regular updates about certain events.

That could be useful if you're interested in a sport but have to be out or at work when the events are shown. The tweets you are shown whether about an individual event or your country will all have been posted by journalists, professionals and the like. It allows you to keep up with the news without relying on your friend's secondhand accounts as they watch the sport.

The most beautiful thing about this is that the follow really is temporary. You don't follow any account in particular but you get to see all the relevant tweets in your timeline. If you don't care enough about the Olympics not to have the additional news on your feed as well as people's comments then you just have to not opt in. It's all incredibly simple and very clever.

Twitter want to keep the user base they already have to and do that they need to make their features more attractive. Temporary following might have been technically possible for a while but not for such an extended period of time. The Olympics will be a test for Twitter as if it works, they could possibly use temporary following of sports events to encourage users to watch their upcoming live streams this autumn.

This feature could still be discarded after the Olympics but Twitter has always wanted users to be able to follow topics as well as users. This could actually help them achieve this vision, as long as they do it in a way that doesn't force users to regret opting in.

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