Twitter adds photos, video previews to feeds

Twitter has gone visual.

The social network, which has been based on 140-character posts since its founding in 2006, has added photo and video previews to the feed of items that users see when they log on to the service from the Web or mobile applications.

The change, which follows recent moves by rivals such as Facebook to show photos and videos more prominently, could help increase the use of Twitter as the company prepares to sell stock to the public next week for the first time. The change could also help the company sell more visual ads.

“Starting today, timelines on Twitter will be more visual and more engaging: previews of Twitter photos and videos from Vine will be front and center in tweets,” Michael Sippey, Twitter’s vice president for product,

wrote in a blog post on Tuesday

. “To see more of the photo or play the video, just tap.”

The feed of messages, which Twitter calls the timeline, will still show posts in chronological order, with the most recent first. But tweets that contain photos or videos from the Twitter-owned video service Vine will preview those images.

In the past, Twitter users had to click on a link to see a photo or video.

The turn toward the visual is the biggest change to Twitter’s interface since it was overhauled in 2011. The company is also experimenting with ways to highlight other types of messages, such as those about television shows, although no changes have yet been released to all users.

Some on Wall Street have expressed worries about the company’s slowing growth ahead of its initial public offering of stock, expected next week.

In the third quarter, Twitter had 232 million users who checked the service at least once a month, up just 6.4 percent from the previous quarter and an increase of 39 percent from the previous year. That is far less than the double-digit quarterly growth rates that Facebook posted when it was the same size as Twitter.