Twitter (or X) is gearing up for a major search overhaul. Elon Musk announced today that X will add semantic search capabilities to improve users' ability to find relevant content on the platform.
Semantic search, sometimes called contextual search, aims to understand the intent behind search queries rather than just matching keywords. This allows the search engine to return tweets and other contextually relevant content, even if it doesn't contain the exact keywords.
Unlike traditional keyword search, semantic technology utilizes natural language processing to determine the intent and context behind search terms. This allows the search engine to return tweets and other information closely matched to the meaning of the query.
According to Musk, the semantic search update is under development now. The first phase will focus on understanding the context around queries related to recent events and trending topics. Later phases will expand the contextual comprehension capabilities.
We are working on semantic (AI) search. Will show posts of X that match the meaning of your search, not just the text.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 7, 2023
X's current search technology relies solely on matching keywords, which can be limiting for users. For example, if someone searches for "Microsoft," only tweets that specifically mention the word "Microsoft" will be returned.
Tweets that refer to the tech giant in other ways, like saying "the Windows maker," would not show up in the search results. This is because X's search algorithm looks for literal word matches rather than understanding the underlying semantic meaning of tweets.
However, training semantic search models requires large datasets, which X may lack compared to bigger tech companies. For example, Google moved to this technology 10 years ago.
The semantic search announcement is part of Musk's larger effort to revamp Twitter and add new features after acquiring the company. It aligns with his vision to transform Twitter into what he calls "X" - a "super app" with various integrated services.
Last week, reports of Twitter being in talks with financial data providers to potentially add stock trading and other financial services to its app. However, Elon Musk denied this, saying, "No work is being done on this."
Meanwhile, Twitter's once-rumored feature that lets premium users hide their profile checkmarks is now live. "As a subscriber, you can choose to hide your checkmark on your account," X wrote in a support page.