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August 05, 2010

Shoutout! Twitter Looks to be Readying New Feature

Want to send shoutouts to your peeps on Twitter? If the emergence of a rather official-looking, but private, account on Twitter is any guide, the microblogging powerhouse is readying just that, which could fit an intriguing space that goes beyond the user-initiated practices of retweets and the rapidly popular, and then later fatigued, practice of Follow Friday. While details are so far lacking, the account (@twittershoutout), says you can "contribute your shoutouts to peeps", which I assume would deliver the ability to provide kudos to fellow users in a way that works around the service's practice of obscuring @replies to people you don't follow.

The account features the official Twitter mascot silhouetted on a medallion, and thus far, only follows two other accounts, including the internal Twitter account for employees (@teamteam) and a second account, intriguing in its own right, @twitteronnotice, which dubs itself as "Minus One". More on that later.

Contribute Your Shoutouts to Peeps on Twitter? How?

In the last few months, Twitter has increasingly leveraged its righthand sidebar, showing not just statistics on your activity, but adding suggested people to follow, and your own mentions, direct messages, favorites and retweets. Only retweets performed in Twitter's official way, and not the old RT style, are counted.

Speculating, I think it's possible that people (and brands) could send you shoutouts, which would be displayed in parallel to your favorites and retweets, which you could display, much like badges, on your account, when friends send you kudos.

The @twittershoutout account is followed by 175 people so far, despite the account's being private. Unsurprisingly, while I didn't go through all those following, every single one I checked was verified as a Twitter employee, so it looks as official as it gets. The account is also listed under "official accounts operated by Twitter" on lists that watch the company closely, even if it is not (yet) included in Twitter's own list of "more Twitter accounts". It is also oddly included in one list for the "Twitter support team".

I sent direct messages to a few folks at Twitter, including Sean Garrett, on the company's communications team tonight, and haven't heard back yet on this account or that of @twitteronnotice, so there is always the possibility this is more smoke than fire, but it looks like new features are coming our way soon. Considering Twitter's emphasis on brands and celebrities, just imagine how many shoutouts Justin Bieber and Ashton Kutcher are going to get!