An experiment by Twitter to show content on iOS devices using “Safari Reader” dramatically changes the material, removing ads, reader engagement options and sometimes preventing the content from showing at all. Here’s an interactive tour.
The Twitter / Safari Reader test
Last week, Twitter began making use of Safari Reader for some people on iOS devices. Using this strips content of ads and many other things when people click from a tweet to the content, causing it to load within the Twitter app. This can be a nicer reading experience in some cases but can also mean important material for both readers and publishers goes missing.
I’m in that group. This began for me last Thursday on my iPhone and completely confused me. I had no idea why it was happening or that Google had made a change:
Since then, the test has also started happening on my iPad. The examples below show you the impact this has had on content I’ve viewed there, how content has been stripped of elements because of Reader.
On the left, you can see on the left what a publisher is normally showing to readers. On the right, you can see what Twitter actually displays. By default, it’s the Twitter view that people in the test group see. They don’t see the “normal” view unless they deliberately click on the little black menu icon in the address bar, assuming they know to do this.
Use the slider to switch between both views. Thanks to our social media reporter Tim Peterson for setting these up! Also, if you’re on a mobile-device, we’re working to make these easier to view.
In the example above, you can see how when clicking to a Bloomberg story, Twitter removes a banner ad from the top of the story, all the sidebar content along with other material.
Ads & share units blocked
This example shows how a story from New York Magazine has sharing options at the end removed. Yes, ironically, Twitter’s new view makes it harder for people to share a story back to Twitter.
Ads & social sharing options blocked
This example shows how a story from The Verge has both ads and social sharing options removed.
App install prompt blocked, as well as ads
The example above shows how Twitter prevents a prompt to install the app for Fox Sports from appearing, as well as stripping ads.
Email sign-up box blocked
In this example from History.com, an option to sign-up to get headlines via email that shows at the end of a story was removed, along with other content.
This example is a post on Medium where Twitter’s use of Reader caused it to display a blank page. Yes, absolutely nothing was shown, as all.
Why not use AMP?
We have asked Twitter (twice) for a statement about the test, including how long it will last, if it’s expanding, if it’s based on accounts and any reaction to concerns publishers may have. We’ve not gotten a response but will update, if one comes in.
We also asked why Twitter isn’t using AMP pages as a way to both deliver cleaner, faster loading content while also respecting publisher wishes to show ads and engagement options.
Twitter pledged to support the AMP project last year but to date hasn’t seemed to expand use beyond it in embedded tweets.