clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Twitter Starts Dabbling With TV Topic Discovery

Tune in, turn on.

Twist Design / Shutterstock

Twitter isn’t afraid to send you pop-up messages on your phone. It may start sending you a few more.

The company is testing a new type of mobile notification that lets you know when people you follow are tweeting about certain topics. I, for instance, received a pop-up that let me know two of my friends were talking about “Game of Thrones” yesterday. And just this morning, I was told that another few friends were tweeting about “Jeopardy!”

Twitter is staying mum on the test and pointed me to the explainer page it often points reporters to when one of us spots a new feature.

But it isn’t wholly unexpected. Last month, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo noted that the company would start to play around with ways to better surface topics to its users.

My guess is, it’s Twitter trying to deliver on a few different fronts. It’s a way to stay in touch with what people are talking about at that moment. It also seems to be a pitch for Twitter as a “second-screen” companion experience; both the notifications I received were specifically about TV shows.

Here’s what is confusing me: When I looked back through the tweets of my friends Jennifer and Alex to find where each of them spoke about “Game of Thrones,” I couldn’t find anything. So I don’t know how Twitter identifies when people are talking about certain topics, nor do I know the range of topics it’ll entail.

But media and TV shows seem like a good place to start, especially if the company wants to convince both regular people and advertisers that, despite what some may say, Twitter is indeed TV’s friend.

It’s worth noting that Twitter has started sending a bunch of other notification types recently, too. When my colleague Peter Kafka makes a particular snarky tweet and it gets a lot of favorites and retweets, for instance, he sometimes sees a pop-up notification saying his tweet is picking up steam. (Nice job, Kafka.) Also, apparently some people are seeing notifications on topics of interest other than television shows.

I have no clue when, or if, Twitter plans on rolling out the topics test widely, but watch for notifications here and there on your smartphone — especially if you’re a “Game of Thrones” fan.

This article originally appeared on