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Twitter's 'Project Lightning' launches as 'Moments'

Jack Dorsey
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Jack Dorsey

Just a day after Jack Dorsey was formally appointed as Twitter's permanent CEO, the company unveiled its long-anticipated product overhaul, Project Lightning, which it's launching as "Moments."

This new feature will appear as a tab in Twitter's app with the logo of a lightning bolt. It's "the best of what's happening on Twitter in an instant," said product manager Madhu Muthukumar in a blog post.

The idea is to make it easy to instantly browse the biggest stories on Twitter without having to follow any accounts or search for any hashtags. The aim is to allow anyone who signs up for Twitter to access the stories of the day without having to speak the language of Twitter or feel pressure to tweet.

When users click the tab, they'll be directed to a list of "Moments," stories culled together with photos, videos and the texts from tweets. The app first features the main stories of the day, but users can also scroll through to specific areas of interest — sports, entertainment — to find more Moments under those topics. Users can follow a Moment so updates on the topic flow into their timelines.

Notably, in a departure from its tech roots, Twitter has a team of human curators. It's also partnering with media companies to assemble the groups of tweets, including Bleacher Report, Buzzfeed, The New York Times, Vogue and The Washington Post, with more partners in the works.

"Project Lightning" was mentioned a number of times in Monday's investor call about Dorsey's appointment. It was referenced as a key change in the works, fostered by Dorsey, and instrumental in turning around the company.

Twitter hopes this product tweak will be key in growing its stagnating user base. The company has been criticized for losing millions of users who have signed up to try the service but haven't stuck around.

The question is whether removing the need to take action — such as following a selection of people to create a news feed — will make the service stickier. There will certainly be plenty of questions on Twitter's next earnings call about how well the new feature is faring out of the gate.