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Twitter is testing better image previews and fewer cropped photos

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Twitter says it’s running a test with a small subset of iOS and Android users to “give people an accurate preview” of what an image will look like without the trial and error that process involves now. As it stands now, the platform automatically crops images to make them display in a more condensed way in the timeline, where users often scroll through without clicking on an image preview. But that approach has created some problems.

The biggest one, historically, is that Twitter’s algorithm that decides which part of an image gets the focus was demonstrated to have baked-in racial bias. The algorithm prioritized white faces over Black ones in its image preview, even cropping out the former president of the United States in one person’s tests.

Twitter’s automatic image handling is also a hassle for photographers and artists, who generally prefer to have total control over how an image is presented. If the crop is off, that small misfire can be the difference between a photo attracting a ton of attention or getting ignored outright. It also ruins narrative tweets, as Twitter notes in its example of the tweet about a dog who is conspicuously absent from one of its crops.

It sounds like Twitter is also trying out showing more full images in the timeline. In tweets, Twitter’s Chief Design Officer Dantley Davis said that anyone testing the new image cropping system will find that most single image tweets in normal aspect ratios won’t get a crop at all, though super wide or super tall images will get a crop weighted around the center.

For photographers (present company included) tired of toggling between Instagram’s preference for portrait-oriented images and Twitter’s insistence on landscape crops, that’s good news too. As you can see in the sample image, the change could actually make Twitter a richer visual platform. That would likely mean more scrolling past images that take up multiple tweets’ worth of vertical space, but we’d be happy to trade the time spent clicking through images for a prettier Twitter timeline.

TechCrunch

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Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”

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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.

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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.

Citations

Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

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