I am a news junkie. I need my news first thing in the morning and at regular intervals throughout the day. Different people consume information differently; some go straight to news websites like NYTimes, WaPo, or USNews, while others like me rely on aggregators and algorithms to serve us the most relevant news of the day by the hour. The two products that do this job for me the best are Twitter and Youtube, but for very different reasons.
Good products respect their users’ time
I have always been a visual person, so reading walls of text does not come naturally to me. As Steve Krug says, “We don’t read pages, we scan them.” That’s why I love looking at my Twitter feed to get instant bite-sized updates on relevant news from trusted sources. It’s super simple to look up twitter trends and search for specific terms to quite literally find out what people are thinking in real-time. This actually comes in really handy for developing news stories. I once woke up at 4 am from a big jolt. It felt like an earthquake, but I wasn’t sure. So I just looked up ‘SF earthquake’ on the Twitter app and got my confirmation in a matter of a few seconds.
Good products emerge from a coherent strategy
On the other hand, I use Youtube for the same reasons people read newspapers. I have to say that Youtube’s algorithm is hands down the best for accurately predicting what content I would like to see in my recommendations. Back in the day, users would need to ‘Subscribe’ to channels to be able to see anything in their feed. But times have changed (especially after TikTok), and now algorithms are smart enough to serve you content based on your viewing history. In a way, they are automatically shaping your social graph.
Good products are consistent in their use and adaptable to changing times
Both Twitter and Youtubes’ UI have evolved over time to be more intuitive and easy to use. These platforms’ success comes from the fact that they are not only the best in their respective niches but that they are also very inclusive in their user experience. It’s their continued commitment to improving their products that makes them industry leaders.
Good products are responsibly made
Both Twitter and Youtube have had certain design problems that they have attempted to correct in recent times. One major issue with sourcing your news via these apps is that almost all of the information is user submitted. This means that, until recently, there was no way of verifying if the information was real or fake. After the uncontrolled spread of misinformation during the 2016 US Presidential Election, both Twitter and Youtube have changed their policies, and they now keep an eye on what is being shared on their apps.
Twitter now flags untrue tweets as false news (Even if the US president tweeted it!). Similarly, Youtube promptly demonetizes or removes videos with deceptive headlines and misleading information. However, despite these recent improvements, many users still view some of the information available on these skeptically, as shown in this article from TechCrunch.
While Twitter and Youtube may not be everyone’s most trusted source for news, I have grown to appreciate their utility in my life. Because most Newspapers also have Twitter pages and Youtube channels, I find that following them on these apps leads to the best of both worlds.