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Twitter has become world famous as a short message service. Journalists, celebrities, and politicians, but also millions of non-famous users use Twitter to voice their opinions to the rest of the Internet in a brief and straight-to-the-point way. But a new feature has now been released: Twitter Spaces. This enables you to open up a chat room and then have a conversation with others via microphone. So instead of having to be content with just a few characters, you can now talk to each other directly, extensively, and without a time-delay. Chat abbreviations like wtf or lol no longer need to be used.
While the concept of Twitter was revolutionary when it was founded in 2006, the principle of Twitter Spaces is not as new for social media connoisseurs. Just recently the Clubhouse app triggered a real hype when it launched its online conversation rooms.
So, what can you expect from the new Twitter feature? This is what we know as of April 2021.
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Twitter Spaces: All facts briefly
- Beta phase: So far, only selected iOS users can create their own Spaces and hold conversations. Android users have the option to listen in but aren’t yet able to fully participate.
- Audio only: Conversations on Twitter Spaces are audio-only, though listeners can use emojis to express their mood. It’s also possible to pin tweets in the space as context to the conversation.
- Room size: Up to 11 people can actively participate in the conversation and an unlimited number of people can listen.
- Openness: Each Space is freely accessible to all Twitter users. So far, there is no option to lock a Space.
- Microphone sharing: You either invite specific people to join the conversation or share the microphone with everyone you follow on Twitter. Invitations are sent via Direct Message.
- Recordings: Twitter stores a recording of the conversation for 30 days so that possible violations of the terms and conditions can be reviewed. The recordings are not publicly available but can be downloaded from the host of the Twitter Space.
- Accessibility: As the host of a room, you can set up subtitles which are created and displayed in real time so that people who are deaf or hard of hearing can also follow the conversation. Compatibility with screen readers is currently being worked on so that blind or visually impaired people will also be able to use Spaces in the future.
- Technology: Spaces is built on the infrastructure of Periscope. Twitter had bought the video streaming platform app in 2015 for easy live video broadcasts and is now discontinuing Periscope to concentrate on the launch of Spaces.
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What is Twitter Spaces?
With the new Spaces feature, Twitter users will be able to open their own chat room. But instead of communicating via text messages like in classic chat rooms, you turn on your mic. The host of the room can invite other Twitter users to join the conversation. You can either select individual people or give the right to speak to all users you follow.
Currently, every Twitter Spaces is open to everyone. Once the room has been created, other users can enter and follow the conversation. However, these people don’t necessarily have permission to speak - the host decides who is allowed to speak. By the way, as the creator of a room, you can also take away the right to speak from your invited guests. Listeners, on the other hand, only have the option of giving reactions via emojis, and otherwise cannot participate directly.
Twitter Spaces is meant to be a direct and transient medium. Just like an offline, everyday conversation, no recordings should take place. This enables the conversations to be more open because participants don’t have to worry about what they said and how it could come across in the future. However, there are a few things to bear in mind: Twitter stores all conversations for 30 days. This is so that enough time is given to trace any illegal statements that might have been made. The host also has the option of downloading the sound file during the storage period. Other speakers should at least be able to download a transcript of what was said.
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Ensure that you don’t rely too heavily on the supposed privacy in a chatroom. Clubhouse came under fire recently after personal data of around 1.3 million users was stolen from the chatroom app and posted on a hacker forum. There have also been incidents of conversations being leaked.
How do you use Twitter Spaces?
The Spaces feature is initially only aimed at users of Twitter’s mobile app. Currently, only iOS users can enjoy the full set of features. People with Android smartphones can log into and listen to Spaces. However, only Apple device owners are able to create their own Spaces and pick up the mic at this time. This is currently being worked on, so you can soon expect a speedy roll-out for the Android operating system as well. As developers have reported on Twitter, they are even working on a web version already, so that you can also access the feature on a desktop PC or on a laptop via the browser.
Since Twitter Spaces is still in beta, not all iOS users are able to access the feature just yet. However, Twitter is gradually unlocking the audio feature for more people.
If you want to open a room, you have two options:
- On iOS, long-press the Compose button and then select the Spaces icon (multiple circles in a diamond shape).
- If you click on the Fleet icon (at the top of the app), you can also use this to create a Space.
When you’ve successfully opened the room, you’ll notice that your microphone is initially muted. Simply turn the sound on when you’re ready to start the conversation. You can also mute your microphone at any time during the call.
A good thing about the feature is that you don’t have to have Spaces open all the time. So, if you want to do other things on Twitter at the same time or even minimize the app, it won’t close Spaces.
Once you have opened the room, you can also remove and block selected users although you have to do this moderation work alone. Unlike Clubhouse, Twitter does not give you the option to appoint additional moderators. However, Twitter has already assured users that this option is on its way.
With an increasing number of new features, Twitter is not only developing more and more into an alternative to Facebook but could even be thought of as a WhatsApp alternative.
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