A day after Twitter announced that cofounder Jack Dorsey would officially become its new CEO, the social network is revealing the biggest change to Twitter since images in tweets. Moments, previously known as Project Lightning, is a new section of Twitter that will show users curated streams of tweets around newsworthy topics, including entertainment, sports, and breaking news events.
The Moments tab is designed to make Twitter less confusing for new users, a problem the company’s leadership openly acknowledged during its most recent earnings call in July. “Non-users continue to ask, ‘Why should I use Twitter?'” CFO Anthony Noto said at the time.
Moments is Twitter’s attempt to answer that question. It features a list of important stories of the day, selected and updated by Twitter’s team of curators. When a user clicks on a Moment, he or she sees a stream of tweets collected around that topic. Users can opt to follow a particular Moment, which will then integrate those tweets directly into their regular Twitter timeline, where tweets from all users they follow are shown.
Some Moments streams will be curated by select Twitter partners, which at launch include BuzzFeed, Fox News, MLB, NASA, The New York Times, Getty Images, Mashable, the Washington Post, Vogue, Entertainment Weekly, and Bleacher Report. Twitter said in a statement that it plans to expand this group of partners in the future.
For now, Moments is only available in the U.S. on iPhone, Android, and desktop.
During the company’s July 2015 earnings call, then-interim CEO Dorsey said that Twitter “continue[s] to question the reverse chronological timeline.” While that quote was troubling for many devoted Twitter users, who appreciate the social network’s non-algorithmic timeline–a contrast to Facebook’s heavily edited news feed–Dorsey’s statement was an acknowledgment that Twitter struggles greatly to make its use case clear to new users. When a person joins Twitter, he or she must find and follow many people in order to build out a timeline of tweets. And even then, because Twitter shows a strictly chronological stream of tweets, it’s easy to miss important updates.
Twitter tried to address this missed-tweet issue earlier this year with a new feature called “While you were away,” which highlights popular tweets from followers since the last time a used logged on. With the addition of Moments, a Twitter user doesn’t have to follow anyone; important tweets (at least, as flagged by Twitter) are collected and organized in one place.
Moments will make Twitter simpler and friendlier–and less like Twitter. But as the company sees its audience lured away by younger competitors like Snapchat, Dorsey will have to make even more compromises to Twitter’s original vision if the social network hopes to remain relevant.