People love photos. Case in point: The popularity of Instagram, which has racked up 200 million active users in less than half of the time Twitter's been around. Twitter, in case you forgot, has only 241 million active users. So on Wednesday, Twitter forged its own spot in the photo-sharing field with a simultaneous update for iOS and Android now rolling out to users.
Twitter isn't a social network built around photos, but it has to adapt to what people want. The apps now let you tag up to 10 friends in a photo without using any of the 140 precious characters you're allotted per tweet. Perhaps that's what Twitter news chief Vivian Schiller was talking about when she recently mentioned getting rid of the network "scaffolding," the inside language that scares away new users.
You can control who can tag you in a new section in your security and privacy settings. There are three options: Anyone can tag you, people you follow can tag you, or no one can tag you. Twitter sends an e-mail notification when your name is tagged in a photo.
The change is clearly modeled after the tagging options Facebook and Instagram have long offered--and those networks are still growing in ways that Twitter isn't.
The other social photo addition is the ability to tweet multiple photos--up to four at a time. People have only recently embraced the in-line images that popped up Timelines last fall. The change was derided when it was first introduced, but now in-line photos a surefire way to get people to pay attention to your tweet. Twitter referred to the multiple photo capability as a "collage" effect, which calls to mind the variety of apps that let you stitch together multiple Instagram photos.
Twitter is working to make the network friendlier to new users, and this photo-sharing update is the network's way of throwing ideas at the wall to see what sticks--and what will make users stick around.