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Twitter opens applications to trial 'twttr' app

Sky News logo Sky News 13/03/2019
a close up of a logo: The logo for Twitter's offshoot app Twttr. Pic: Twitter © Other The logo for Twitter's offshoot app Twttr. Pic: Twitter

Twitter's prototype app 'twttr' has launched today to the first group of participants keen to test the platform's newest features.

Twttr, the name of the social media platform without the vowels - and a reference to founder Jack Dorsey's first tweet - and thus the first ever tweet - was initially announced in January.

The changes reflect the company's desire to tackle hate speech and promote "healthy conversations" following recent backlash against all of the social media giants.

Last year, Twitter announced that it was turning to academics, including from Oxford's department for experimental psychology, to help it figure out how to measure "the health of public conversation on Twitter".

The initial logo of the app featured some of the geometric qualities which go into the design of Twitter's bird, stressing its nature as a prototype.

But the new app is simply a blank blue square without the bird at all. As the company's co-founder explained, it was about simplicity and blue sky thinking.

Biz Stone, whose official role at Twitter hasn't been announced since his return in 2017, said: "We're re-working. Not there yet; hence, no logo."

To begin with the twttr platform is only being opened to a few thousand users who speak English or Japanese - but Twitter has said these users will be able to discuss their experiences openly.

Unlike the prototype version unveiled in January, tweets in a thread are no longer colour-coded, but now nested under each other in a collapsible panel.

In a key new development, Twitter is also hiding the engagement numbers showing how many people had favourites or retweeted a message from the timeline - although these will still be visible if users tap on the tweet itself.

This is likely to discourage the chain-retweeting habits of users who are often considered to be engaging in an 'inauthentic' manner with content on the platform.

Twitter has been accused of allowing political groups to inorganically amplify material they support.

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