Twitter In The News

16 04 2010

In the past two weeks there have been many headlines regarding some big changes coming to Twitter. All of these changes are significant in that they signal Twitter’s efforts to become more relevant, profitable and adaptive so as to stay ahead of the curve. Additionally this shows the importance of Twitter’s long term legacy to our society as viewed by the government. I’m going to run through some of these headlines to give my input and discuss them.


Twitter Launches A New Ad Platform

Well, it was inevitable; Twitter has now begun to embed ads in their search results. Since Twitter’s burgeoning popularity took off many people have wondered what would be the best way to make this venture profitable. Of course, many companies had been using Twitter as a way of promoting products, but the question of how to make the Twitter platform itself profitable always lingered. There was concern by the upper management at Twitter as to whether including any form of advertisements would detract from Twitter’s organic feel. It seems like they have come up with an ideal solution. These ads are similar to the highlighted search results a user might see when using a search engine like Yahoo or Google. They are featured at the top of the search results but are related to keywords from the original search.

Twitter is calling these results “Promoted Tweets” and straying from referring them as any forms of advertisements. They are clearly highlighted as an promotion by a tag highlighted at the bottom of the tweet that says: “Promoted by [Company Name]”. Twitter is avoiding categorizing these tweets as advertisements and instead highlighting the mutual benefits for the companies and the users. According to Twitter:

“…all Promoted Tweets are organic Tweets, there is not a single “ad” in our Promoted Tweets platform that isn’t already an organic part of Twitter…Promoted Tweets will also be timely. Like any other Tweet, the connection between you and a Promoted Tweet in real-time provides a powerful means of delivering information relevant to you at the moment”.

I think that Twitter has taken the right approach here. This new platform is all about connecting users with information relevant to them. This has always been the cornerstone of what Twitter is all about. The Promoted Tweets are usually tweets that originated from the company that they relate to, for example: Starbucks, Best Buy, Red Bull and others. I’m not sure how a tweet gets selected to be promoted, but it looks like it is not the most recent one. I imagine that the company has some input as to which tweet will be featured. As long as Twitter continues to make these ads part of the organic experience of Twitter I can picture that this platform will be successfully integrated.


Congress To Archive Every Single Tweet Ever Created

In a somewhat surprising move the Library of Congress announced that they will be archiving every public tweet. According to them this will allow them to catalog some of the most striking moments from recent history in a completely new way. They will be essentially cataloging the voices of every Twitter user. With a staggering 55 million tweets are created daily, the amount of tweets to be store is absolutely immense. Of course no other place in the world would be more fitting to store this massive amount of data than the Library of Congress. Nonetheless, this brings up concerns about privacy about people’s lives and information. Although only public tweets are going to be archived some people might not have considered that what they published six months ago might be saved for posterity when they first published it.

Twitter addressed some of these concerns via their blog:

“Only after a six-month delay can the Tweets be used for internal library use, for non-commercial research, public display by the library itself, and for preservation. The open exchange of information can have a positive global impact.”

It will be interesting to see the kind of information that researchers will be able to come up with this data. Given Twitter’s organic feel and use determining whether any trends or patterns are present with the ways that users interact with the service will most likely yield very interesting results. More importantly this could potentially herald a new way of examining our society. Privacy concerns aside, I do agree with the notion that as a public forum, Twitter deserves to be archived. It has served as an outlet for users to express their views and opinions on news, popular culture, and human history. I also find it significant that a vast amount of everyday people’s thoughts will be stored for their intellectual, cultural and historical value along some of the world’s most well-known and respected literature. I see this as a form of crowdsourcing. Thanks to the Twitter platform the voices of many people are regarded and valued just as the voices of the experts and scholars.

It’ll be interesting to see where Twitter goes on from here. Despite fierce competition from Facebook and other forms of social media, they continue to find ways to make the service relevant, innovative and useful. The evolution of the live web continues. And it will be interesting to see where it goes next.




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