News from the Twittersphere: Twitter is Changing, You Knew It Would

By William Stanek
April 16, 2010

News from the Twittersphere. The Library of Congress has acquired every public tweet since Twitter's inception and will digitally archive these and future tweets. These billions of tweets were acquired via donation and will add ~5 terabytes to the Library of Congress's approximately 167 TB (and growing) national archive of web-based information. Read the press release at: http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2010/10-081.html.

Wondering how archiving of all tweets since inception of Twitter to present and beyond affects your privacy? A lot of people will. Ever read some of the tweets out there? You can bet some people never thought their tweets would be recorded forever; you also can bet some people might change their twittering habits now that they know.

A careful read of the Twitter Terms Of Service is in order if the archiving of tweets is a total surprise. These statements in the Terms Of Service let Twitter do anything they want with your tweets:

You understand that through your use of the Services you consent to the collection and use (as set forth in the Privacy Policy) of this information, including the transfer of this information to the United States and/or other countries for storage, processing and use by Twitter.
By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed).
You agree that this license includes the right for Twitter to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals who partner with Twitter for the syndication, broadcast, distribution or publication of such Content on other media and services, subject to our terms and conditions for such Content use.

Twitter also reserves the right to change the TOS at any time and your continued use of the service implies consent (whether you are aware of the changes or not), as stated here:

We may revise these Terms from time to time, the most current version will always be at twitter.com/tos. If the revision, in our sole discretion, is material we will notify you via an @Twitter update or e-mail to the email associated with your account. By continuing to access or use the Services after those revisions become effective, you agree to be bound by the revised Terms.

Since the Terms Of Service can change, it's a good idea to read them every once in a while if you have concerns about your account and how your tweets may be used.

In other Twitter news, Twitter is launching "Promoted Tweets." Promoted Tweets are exactly what they sound like: paid promotions (yes, ads). Twitter has already signed a number of important business partners for these paid promotions including Sony Pictures, Starbucks, and Best Buy.

Promoted Tweets will be listed as promotions, so they will be easy to spot. For example, a promotion from Starbucks would be shows as "Promoted by Starbucks Coffee."

Promoted Tweets was unveiled at Chirp on 4/15 and announced on 4/14 at http://blog.twitter.com/2010/04/hello-world.html. "For now" Promoted Tweets only will be sent in the timeline of those who follow a brand. For example, if you follow any Best Buy related twitter accounts, you'll get Best Buy promotions. Note that I put the "For Now" in quotation marks because I think there may come a day when promotions become targeted broadcasts; targeted broadcasts are the logical progression of the business model (and could make Twitter a tidy fortune).

Promoted Tweets is an interesting approach to capture the value of Twitter and create an increasingly revenue-generating business. The good, the bad, and the ugly of it is that:

Good: Promotions will be listed as such (and hopefully other types of paid promotions will be too).

Bad: Promotions are advertisements; twitter is no longer ad free (but some percentage of all tweets were already "ads" anyway [and at least these aren't banner ads]).

Ugly: Promotions are only the tip of the iceberg. A lot more "advertising/business" is coming to Twitter.

Undoubtedly, Promoted Tweets marks the start of the next phase of the business plan for the Twitter team. The big question: How many more steps to the inevitable IPO or acquisition? Twitter is of course a business and the people who run Twitter want to make money. You knew they did even from Twitter's earliest days.

Thanks for reading, time for me to get back to work! Hope you'll take a look at my new book Windows 7: The Definitive Guide. Also just released is my book Exchange Server 2010 Administrator's Pocket Consultant.

William R. Stanek
williamstanek at aol dot com


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