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Select a key feature of a digital or social media platform, and write a feature report on the significance of this feature. This report may engage with a recent change to a well-established feature like the hashtag, or to a more recently introduced platform feature, such as message deletion, and consider the significance of this feature for the platform design, use, and impact.

Voice Tweets have arrived. But despite the opportunities it affords,
concerns still linger
Since its arrival in 2006, Twitter has continued to evolve from a basic messaging platform
where users were constrained by a 140-character word limit to a platform that is trying to
enable greater self-expression amongst its users.
The recent launch of voice Tweets on Twitter in July 2021* allows tweets to include audio
recordings that have a limit of 140 seconds per tweet, with the option of accompanying text.
It is important to recognise that the introduction of Voice Tweets is not entirely a new
phenomenon with the ability to integrate videos into posts already existing, yet these are
often supplementary to tweets rather than replacing text-based tweets.
The introduction of voice tweets on Twitter continues and reaffirms trends existing in internet
communication and raises concerns about the impact of new features on wider society.
From increasing the ability for self-expression and accessibility to the challenges of
moderating new features of platforms, the implementation of voice tweets highlights the
ability for new features to significantly alter our experiences with social media platforms.
Increased personalisation
In a period of isolation, largely a result of the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the world, the
intimacy that audio can provide is becoming more appealing, with authenticity and
individuality becoming increasingly more important in internet communication.
Twitter itself acknowledged the importance of “a more human touch” in its blog post
announcing the launch of Voice Tweets. Suggesting that the inclusion of audio allows for
better expression particularly when text-based tweets can see a loss of nuance, tone, and
context.
This does not suggest that every user regardless of the platform shares the same information.
For instance, media scholar Dr Emily van der Nagel in her work highlights that historically
users have carefully selected what information they present on platforms, shaped only by the
limitations of the platform itself.
For example, an internet user might on Facebook due to its requirement for a first and last
name present a version of themselves that includes personal information and references to
personal issues compared with Twitter which might be for their professional identity.
Even the ability to hear another user’s voice can provide cues about their gender, social class,
level of education and personality that can be disguised or muted through text-based
communication or only occur with physical interaction which could be considered
unintentional personalisation.
With voice tweets now extending this personalisation of a user’s page, while still importantly
giving the user power over the level of customisation and information shared.
It could be argued that Twitter is trying to ensure user loyalty in an increasingly crowded
marketplace of platforms or even recognising that a one size fits all approach to platforms
does not work.
Enhancing communication and accessibility
Voice Tweets on Twitter can be positive in a continuing culture of mass information sharing
and increasing accessibility on the platform. Twitter in their blog also indicated the potential
for Voice Tweets to enhance the ability to communicate stating “we hope voice Tweeting
gives you the ability to share your perspectives quickly and easily with your voice”.
Twitter also recently enabled the use of captions to voice tweets, largely due to criticism that
they were not available at the time of the trial of voice tweets that occurred on Apple mobile
phones in 2020. The inclusion of captions accompanying voice tweets highlights a shift
towards ensuring that social media platforms and the ability to communicate are accessible to
everyone, which has been historically neglected.
The inclusion of audio tweets also allows for enhanced accessibility not seen in text-based
platforms that rely and relied in the past on emoticons, emojis and other visual aids to
communicate meaning. Studies have even suggested that compared to text-based
communication on the internet, audio and video chat provides the greatest potential for
emotional attachments amongst individuals in online spaces, highlighting the potential for
platform features such as voice tweets to bridge the gap between the ‘physical’ and ‘online’
world.
Continuing a tradition of anonymity
Although the spreading of inappropriate content occurs on Twitter potentially due to not
requiring personal details on Twitter compared with platforms such as Facebook, Twitter
provides an important avenue for communication without identification.
Voice Tweets continue the importance of Twitter as a platform that provides a safe free space
to talk, with only the profile picture displayed in Voice Tweets, allowing the user to decide
how much they want to share with the world.
Dr Sacha Molitorisz from the University of Technology Sydney argues that this anonymity
on social media allows for protection for those who could be subjected to harm if were not
anonymous.
For example, the 2019 Hong Kong Protests saw a flocking to Twitter of activists who wished
to share their views and communicate without fear of retribution from the Chinese
Government.
Although anonymity afforded by Twitter and its platform has been beneficial to users,
anonymity paired with using audio and visual forms of media rather than text-based can lead
to new concerns.
From text-based moderation to ‘voices’
With social media platforms recognising changing attitudes and a need for regulating
misinformation and general wrongdoing, the shift from features that are text-based towards
those that allow for greater self-expression such as Voice Tweets raise concerns regarding the
ability to moderate.
According to Graham Brookie the director of the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the
Atlantic Council, the moderation of audio is heavily resource-intensive due to requiring
manual analysis and decision making rather than automated tools as seen with text-based
moderation.
This is not an issue that is specific to Twitter with other social media platforms also
struggling to moderate audio-visual content. A recent report focussing on antisemitic
behaviour on social media found that out of 714 posts that displayed antisemitic content
nearly 84% of posts were not acted on by the platforms.
The increasing use of audio and visual media in online platform communication may lead to
a decline of text-based social media communication. Yet for the benefits of personalisation,
accessibility, and communication, more needs to be known about how these new features can
be monitored and regulated to continue fulfilling the promises of regulation pledged by these
platforms.
* Voice tweets originally launched in June 2020 for a small group of Apple mobile-based
users before becoming available to the wider platform in July 2022.
Guide for new authors
How to write for The Conversation
Coming up with ideas
Read before you write

Read the site, and subscribe to The Conversation newsletter
https://theconversation.com/au/newsletter What kinds of stories do we cover?
Have you done a keyword search on the site to check if your issue has been
covered recently by someone else?
Pay attention to what’s going on in the news. What’s being talked about; do
you have an expert perspective on it?
Do you know something no one else knows? Is it the kind of thing the public
might be interested in?
Have you discovered something new that significantly changes the way we
think about or understand a wider issue?
Have you read and could interpret an important, complicated document no
one else understands (for example, a new Productivity Commission report).
Think about whether you’re the right person to write the story

Is this your area of expertise?
If it’s an area of interest, but not expertise, can you find a co-author?
If not, can you suggest someone else who could write the article?
Send a pitch
Go to https://theconversation.com/pitches/new
Write a 100-word explanation of your idea, ideally including an example to show why
what you’re writing about matters. Then select what you think would be the most
appropriate section via our online pitch page.
You’ll get an automated reply explaining when to expect a reply, and how to follow up
if you don’t hear back from an editor quickly. (Each section can get dozens of pitches
a day, but we still aim to reply within a day apart from on weekends, at least to say
it’s been received and whether there are other stories already underway on that
topic.)
Remember – most Conversation articles are only 600-800 words, so starting with a
clear idea of the most important point(s) you want to cover will save you time, and
help us give you a quick, clear response to your pitch.
Write your article
If your pitch is accepted, the editor will send you a brief. It will include a link to your
dashboard, where you can write your story directly into our system. You will be able
to work with your editor on the brief and structure of your article. But here are few tips
that might help.
Start strong; answer the obvious questions
Work hard on the first paragraph to get the general readers’ interest. While many
academics and other experts do read The Conversation, 80% of our audience is nonacademic, and we need to explain issues for a broad audience.
1
Guide for new authors
Start with a brief, sharp statement of the article’s essential facts, of no more than two
sentences. Start with what’s new, relevant, or fascinating. Readers want to know
Five Ws: who, what, where, when, why, and sometimes how.
The reader’s first response will typically be “So what? Why should I care about this?”
If you can answer that question well, they’ll not only read your article, but share it
with others.
Structure
Make a brief sketch of your main points and stick to them.
Put the most important information first. That allows readers to explore a topic to the
depth that their curiosity takes them (not everyone reads to the end).
Divide your article using sub-headings. This gives readers a chance to draw breath
and helps you to focus on the issues.
Tone
Use simple and informal language. A man should never “disembark from a vehicle”
when he can “get out of a car”.
Explain complex ideas. Don’t get too technical. Avoid jargon. If you write in our
system you can take advantage of our ‘readability index’, which will help you write to
a 16-year-old reading level.
Comprehensibility is far more important than elegance. Our editors can help you
polish your article if that’s needed. But as a starting point, if you answer the obvious
questions readers might ask, you’ll stand out from the pack.
Referencing
If you make contentious statements, please back them up with research.
We reference with online links, preferably to full research papers, but to abstracts if
the full paper isn’t available online. We’ll help you add those in with the right
formatting, but we can’t use footnotes or endnotes; ideally, please put your
reference/web link in brackets beside each statement needing a reference.
How to end
The last sentence should aim to summarise or reiterate the point made in your
opening paragraph. Or you can just raise the question of what should happen next.
Check you’ve stayed within the agreed word count, typically 600-800 words.
Write a headline
You can leave it to your editor to write a headline, but if you want to do a first draft
yourself, the following tips can help:
Ten words max
Keep your headline simple and direct—it should be eight to ten words maximum, with
the most relevant and important words at the start.
Avoid puns
Avoid puns and “smart” headlines: aim instead for an accurate and engaging label
that neatly summarises the content.
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Guide for new authors
Name the subject
Names of people, things and places are good. Don’t abbreviate these.
Active verbs
Aim to employ active verbs, which lend muscle and emphasize the “actor” in the
story, i.e. “Aspirin cuts cancer risk” or “WikiLeaks reveals flaws in government
legislation”.
Differentiate
Think of ways to distinguish your article from others. Is this a breakthrough? Does it
answer an important question or solve a puzzle?
Would you read it?
Remember, you are writing for an online readership. Ask yourself what keywords you
would use in a search to find your story. Assuming you find it, would you then feel
compelled to read beyond the headline? If not, try again.
Submit for editing
When you’re done, hit the ‘submit’ button. This will email your editor to let them know
you’re done.
As soon as possible, you should also fill in your disclosure statement. And make sure
you have a complete author profile: it’s not just to tell the reader why you’re an expert
in this area, it’s all a free and high-profile place to be found by media and academic
colleagues looking for experts in your field. Most people’s Conversation profiles show
up first in Google searches, even above your uni/research organisation profile.
Once your editor is finished revising the article, he or she will send it back to you for
approval. You should deal with any questions or suggestions the editor has. You
should review the text, review the photos and captions and review the headline to
make sure you’re happy with all of them.
If you want to make further changes, make them let your editor know you’ve done so.
We are happy to keep reviewing the article until you and the editor are both OK with
the content. When you’re happy with article, hit the ‘approve button’.
We can’t publish until you have approved the story and completed your
disclosure statement.
Publishing
Talk to your editor about when your article will be published. Some articles go online
quickly, others may not be published for a while. We always respect embargoes.
When your article is published, please send it around to your contacts. Please keep
an eye on comments to see if there are any important questions you want to answer,
or discussions you’d like to be involved in. We actively moderate our comments but if
you see any comments that concern you, you can hit the Report button beside the
comment, which will alert the site moderator and your editor.
On your author dashboard, you can see how many people are reading your article,
and places where your article has been republished.
3
Guide for new authors
You may get calls from other media to do follow-up articles or interviews. Many of our
authors have also been approached by journals, prospective students, new
academic collaborators and even new research funders. Good luck!
4
FEATURE REPORT
Select a key feature of a digital or social media platform, and write a feature
report on the significance of this feature. This report may engage with change
to a well-established feature like the hashtag, or a more recently introduced
platform feature, such as message deletion, and consider the significance of
this feature for the platform and its design, use, and impact.
Some notes on the task:
• By ‘recent’ we mean in last 12 months;
• ‘A development affecting social media platform’ might mean
a new feature which has been introduced, or a report showing
new kinds of behaviour, or some event or controversy about
and unfolded on social media, or a new kind of internet
communication practice that you have observed in relation to
that feature;
• See: ‘Writing for the Conversation’ guide on LMS for points
on prose and style;
• Citation method is through hyperlinks embedded in
document .
Include:
– A concise overview of the feature and its issue/change;
– Introduction of a given media topic, concept, theory or study to
contextualise your feature and analysis;
– An argument based on examples or evidence as to what you
think the significance of the feature and change is.
ASSESSMENT CRITERIA
• RELEVANCE
examines an issue that is directly related to the subject’s content and aims.
• DEPTH OF INQUIRY
digs below surface meaning in its consideration of the issue at hand, offering reflective,
thoughtful insights.
• FOCUS AND CLARITY
has a clear focus on discussing one or two central ideas and avoids trying to cover too
many ideas at once. It clearly and sufficiently explains the writer’s position. Connections
among ideas are likewise clearly explained, and the organization of the piece enhances
this clarity.
• RISK AND ENGAGEMENT
explores an issue from a fresh and interesting perspective; engages the reader with lively
prose, an authoritative voice, and compelling ideas.
• PRESENTATION
contains an original title and an appropriate heading, is carefully edited and proofread
to avoid sentence-level errors. Quotations and links are clearly formatted.

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