Twitter releases auto-captions feature to increase video accessibility

Twitter Inc. has reportedly rolled out an auto-generated captions feature on videos. This feature will increase the accessibility of videos for hard-of-hearing and deaf users. Auto captions will be available on iOS, Android as well as the web in more than 30 languages including Spanish, English, Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Hindi among others.

The captions could be beneficial in the new vertical feed of Twitter which the platform began testing a week ago. The introduction of the feed would make the Explore tab of the app resemble TikTok, which will serve algorithmically recommended content one piece at a time. It becomes easier to have captioned videos on feeds like these, especially when users are present in a public place with no access to headphones.

However, Twitter would not allow users to tweak its captions, unlike the video caption features in Instagram Reels and TikTok. This means users would not be able to correct any errors to increase the accuracy of the automated captions.

Accessibility features like image alt text and auto-captions have been garnering more attention from the social media platform after it developed accessibility teams in September 2020. This change in staff was initiated after users criticized the platform for testing a voice tweet feature with no auto-captions. Now voice tweets and Spaces, the Clubhouse competitor of Twitter, both include captioning.

Although the video captions support offered by Twitter is new, the platform was already using captioning technology in Twitter Spaces, its live audio chatrooms.

Interestingly, Twitter retains an audio copy of a Space, along with the captions, for thirty days to reassess the content for violations of company guidelines. If a Space is found to violate content regulations, the platform will hold on to these records for further 90 days to offer a chance to the speakers to appeal their violation.

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