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I've noticed that sometimes pictures from people I follow display in the timeline, and other times they don't and need to be "expanded".

How does the algorithm work to pick out which images to show teasers of and others just a link to?

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    Please don't add the "solution" to your question. Add it as a separate answer. – ale Jan 29 '14 at 18:20
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It seems that if you make the size of the images above 900 pixels or so, in either width or height, Twitter will always show the image inline the timeline feed.

Bizarre, but it consistently works.

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    Worked for me too! Had posted an image that was 640px wide posted to pic.twitter.com that didn't auto-expand. But as soon as I scaled it up to 900px in width, worked like a charm. – Heather Miller Feb 22 '14 at 18:25
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This article has a decent explanation.

Here is the most relevant portion:

The change applies to Vine videos and pictures uploaded to Twitter, not to Instagram links (the company's relationship with Instagram having been rocky since last year). Last month, Twitter added larger, richer photos within embedded tweets, but your timeline of tweets remained untouched until now.

So, the images you see inline are ones that have been uploaded to Twitter or Vine versus just linking an imgur link or something similar.

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    hmmm...that's what i thought, but uploaded Twitter pics with the twitter url DO NOT always auto-expand. i was testing this this morning and that's why i posted this question. – postmodernCoder Jan 29 '14 at 16:42
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The Twitter Help Section includes some information on this:

My Card doesn’t appear in the timeline.
Twitter Cards generated from developer meta tags only appear when a Tweet is either expanded in the timeline (on web) or viewed on the Tweet’s individual permalink page (by clicking on the date from the timeline, either on web or on mobile).

In limited circumstances, Cards may appear in the timeline, such as in images posted to Twitter, Ad formats and Twitter-run experiments.

Full text can be found here: https://dev.twitter.com/cards/troubleshooting#missing_text

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