8 Tools to Help Filter Your Twitter Stream & Find News

If you’re like me, you first hear about a lot of news and information through your Twitter stream. It’s is an excellent way to tap into what the buzz is about at the moment. But if you follow more than 500 people who post frequently, it can be difficult to filter the stream and see what your most trusted sources have shared — especially if you’ve been away for awhile.

Several desktop apps and Web sites, like TweetDeck and HootSuite, will help you manage your Twitter account. But there also are several services that will filter your stream and the collective content on Twitter so you can get the most important (or at least the most popular) news and information shared by users.

Here are eight sites that can help you filter the signal from the noise.

Filtered by Followers: Twitter Tim.es and MicroPlaza

After you log in with your Twitter username, The Twitter Tim.es creates a page that displays stories by filtering through what the people you follow have tweeted the most. The Twitter Tim.es shows who has posted the story along with a blurb to give you an idea of what it’s about. In some cases, the service shows the full text of the post. It also gives you options to view popular stories on Twitter from media sources and Twitter Lists.

MicroPlaza helps you see what’s being shared by many people — both the people you follow and all Twitter users. MicroPlaza puts more emphasis on what people say about the link by prominently displaying their tweets directly below the link and allowing you to easily see all the tweets on the link. This is probably the most flexible filtering tool. You can change how the streams are displayed, see what’s most popular today (or this week or this month), even assume the identity of other Twitter users and see what their sources are sharing. MicroPlaza also bookmarks links (though I wish it synced with other bookmarking services).

Curated by Editors: The Hourly Press

Rather than automatically including all of your followers, The Hourly Press enables you to select your own Twitter “editors.” Those users are weighted more heavily in the algorithm of what is being shared or cited on Twitter. The Hourly Press then takes the 10 highest scoring links and creates an hourly edition, which is displayed on a customized URL. The Hourly Press I created, for example, is socialjournalism.hourlypress.com. When I want to see what the buzz is, and haven’t been on Twitter for a little while, I check this site to see what my trusted sources think are important.

Overall Trends: Retweet.com and TweetMeMe

These two services offer similar functions. TweetMeMe, which has been around longer, is best recognized for its bright green buttons on many blogs, enabling users to easily tweet the article they’re reading. Retweet is quite similar and has its own tweet widget, along with the advantage of a killer domain name. Both sites allow you to filter by categories and topics (entertainment, gaming, etc.) and to showcase the most retweeted links. Retweet.com puts emphasis on what people are saying, whereas TweetMeme gives you a brief blurb from the link being shared. Both also allow you to filter by news articles, and any images, and videos.

Local: MapMash.in and monitter

As we wait for the release of a location-based application from Twitter after its acquisition of Mixer Labs, you can use MapMash.in for Local Twitter Trends. The site displays trends in major cities and allows you to click on the keywords to see what people are talking about.

However, if you want to track news on specific topics, monitter might be the better choice. This site allows you to not only search for a specific location, it also lets you track three specific searches within that area — in real time — and displays the results in an easy-to-view three-column format. You can also adjust the radius of the area that you’re searching.

News from journalists: Muck Rack

Who better to get news from than newsmakers? Muck Rack is not only a directory of journalists on Twitter, but it enables you to filter tweets from journalists by beats, news organizations and popularity. After signing in with your Twitter account, you can easily follow journalists, as well as retweet or reply to their tweets. It’s also quite easy to view what is trending in different categories of journalists. So if you are a tech writer, you can go to the tech page and see what is trending among what’s being shared by journalists in that category.

What tools do you use to filter the signal from the noise on Twitter?

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