Twitter is partnering with Seattle-area startup Tagboard to help video news producers highlight tweets tied to political issues and races in live broadcasts. Today the two tech companies launched Tagboard Discover, a tool for news broadcasters to pull live tweets into their reports.
The Tagboard partnership is part of Twitter’s broader effort to help newscasters cover the midterm elections next week. Eric Zuckerman, Twitter’s manager of news partnerships, called Tagboard Discover a way to “bring the Twitter conversation about the U.S. elections to viewers’ TV screens,” in a statement.
But the role in Twitter plays in political discourse is controversial. The platform has been weaponized by bad actors and foreign agents seeking to foment discord using bots. It also has issues with abuse and harassment from legitimate users.
Those concerns are front-of-mind this week, as vitriolic social media posts surface from two men suspected of violent, politically-motivated crimes. Cesar Sayoc Jr., the man accused of mailing pipe bombs to famous Democrats, habitually posted messages of intolerance and conspiracy theories to Facebook and Twitter.
Those companies have tried, albeit inconsistently, to crack down on abuse, which led another extremist to the social platform Gab. Robert Bowers, the man suspected of killing 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue Saturday, used Gab to publish white supremacist messages. Gab has become a refuge for extremists who feel their voices are suppressed on larger social media platforms.
Regardless, social media has come to play an important role in political discourse and will continue to do so during the midterm elections. Twitter and Tagboard want to make it easier for journalists to find tweets that are relevant to their stories. Tagboard Discover allows producers to sort tweets by specific races, issues, locations, and political affiliations, then select them to appear on screen. It also allows reporters to solicit questions about specific topics from Twitter users.
Tagboard (ranked 139 on the GeekWire 200) is a 7-year-old startup headquartered in Redmond, Wash. Brands use Tagboard to display tweets that use specific hashtags and keywords at events and online. Tagboard has partnered with other social media and tech companies in the past, including Snap and Eventbrite.