Magazine App Flipboard Makes a Push for Social Interactivity

Magazine reading app Flipboard is aiming to relocate some of the online discussion taking place on Twitter to its own platform. Users — which Flipboard calls “curators” — can “write new notes and start conversations” within their magazines, a move to give content creators “more ways to connect with their followers on Flipboard.” Now, curators who open any of the magazines they manage will find in the navigation bar a new “Create” icon they can click to create a note. “Use notes to write messages to your followers, ask them questions or even welcome new readers,” Flipboard suggests.

“You can also add a photo and @mention people in the new note, and you can do all of this on your phone, tablet, and web,” the company explains in a blog post. The feature debuts this week for web-based users and will be available in Flipboard for iOS and Android phones and tablets in January.

Notes on the web use a full-screen layout that shows the comment activity so people can see there’s a conversation happening in a magazine. Additionally, Flipboard is adding a caption feature that lets curators post a brief commentary, question or summary readers will see before they flip the story in a magazine.

“It’s kind of like doing a regular post on Twitter or Facebook, but it’s going into a magazine. So it’s like a post into a micro-community,” Flipboard co-founder and CEO Mike McCue explains on TechCrunch, adding that “people who care about something, who are following this magazine or contributing to this magazine, to be able to talk to each other.”

Curators won’t have a character limit on their notes, “another change possibly coming to Twitter,” TechCrunch says, specifying “the idea is not to create another newsletter or blogging platform, like Substack or Medium. Instead, Flipboard’s notes are designed to be more like a Facebook post in length,” and do things like “write an introduction to the magazine, similar to an editor’s note, or to ask questions of the community, and answer readers’ questions, among other things.”

The notes can be liked, shared, commented on, and even flipped into other magazines.

Flipboard has been “quietly testing the updates since July,” writes Engadget, which reports “there’s already been a noticeable uptick in engagement in magazines where the new interactivity is enabled.”

Calling the update Flipboard’s “biggest step yet into the user-generated content space,” Axios says the company has assigned “about a dozen content moderators to help ensure that the conversations don’t deviate into hate speech or other problematic content,” quoting McCue saying Twitter’s recent problems did not inspire the move: “It is really timely. We didn’t plan it that way.”

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