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Twitter Tests Desktop Trends Box That Displays Details About Each Trend
The trends box on Twitter’s desktop site is very spartan — a list of 10 topics and hashtags displayed without context and tucked inconspicuously into either the right or left rail.
It’s likely many users overlook the feature, making it a missed opportunity for Twitter as it attempts to make its platform more engaging and hold the interest of the new users it needs to continue expanding its business.
And that’s likely the reason behind an apparent test that reader and social media professional Danielle Azar noticed on one of her clients’ Twitter accounts yesterday. On the account, the trends box displayed details about each trending topic, as shown in this screen grab:
Azar said she was unable to replicate the view on any other account and we weren’t able to either. We emailed Twitter for comment and will update this post if we hear back. Twitter is testing new features all the time and usually doesn’t comment on specifics, referring to a 2013 blog post about its constant experimentation.
Many of the experiments never are rolled out to all users and but implementing this one would be a smart move for Twitter. Although Twitter’s place as the No. 1 online network for real-time news and commentary is secure and again made clear during the recent events in Ferguson, Mo., it could do better at helping users understand the context of what’s happening now.
Facebook’s trending unit does that with a line explaining details about the trend. And Twitter shows slightly more trending information to users of its mobile apps — displaying the number of tweets about each trend, for instance — but users still often need to figure out what’s going on on their own.
In this test noticed by Azar, the subheads under trends where not clickable links. They appear to be excerpts from headlines, presumably from tweets in the trend’s stream. That would indicate that they are being generated automatically, which would likely be a technical necessity considering Twitter generates trends for hundreds of locations worldwide.