If you've gone on Twitter in the past day, you've might have noticed a flood of pictures popping up in your newsfeed. That's because the company has opened up its doors, or rather, links, to photos and videos, and the social network no longer requires users to click to open media in tweets. 

“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,” wrote Michael Sippey, Twitter’s vice president for product, yesterday. “To see more of the photo or play the video, just tap.”

The update comes just a week before Twitter's big IPO, and there's probably a reason why the timing is so coincidental. By allowing photos and videos to open automatically, that means you're more likely to look at tweets that have, rather than the ones that are only text. Not because you hate text or anything, but because that's a natural thing to do: your eyes will naturally dart toward the things that are bright and colorful when they're placed against a bunch of tiny words. So with Twitter looking to woo investors before it goes public, this new feature does two things: it shows that Twitter is willing to put a bigger focus on sharing multimedia, rather than links and characters. Second, while you and your friends may be sharing selfies and cat pictures, the brands you follow will be able to tweet out their own ads, which will now be spread about your newsfeed. If you happen not to follow any brands, it doesn't matter: Twitter always as sponsored posts.

Yet, sharing photos and videos seems a little like Facebook territory, no? Seems like the only thing keeping Twitter Twitter is those 140 characters, and a lack of being able to organize photos in albums. Twitter might be turning into a watered down version of Facebook, but with Facebook changing so often, that might not be too bad of a thing.

[via NY Times]