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Twitter Changes the Rules?

Sep 11, 2009

Biz Stone (or so we might think) dropped me a message my gmail inbox yesterday, indicating that Twitter had changed its terms of service. What has caught most people’s eye is the following:

Advertising—In the Terms, we leave the door open for advertising. We’d like to keep our options open as we’ve said before.

This is of great interest to larger players, especially some big media:  Who in the main seems skeptical (I will leave it to the reader to determine who ‘some analysts’ are):

Some analysts are skeptical that advertising will catch on in a meaningful way on social networks, arguing that companies are reluctant to juxtapose their brands with unpredictable, and potentially offensive, user-generated content.

This doesn’t seem like a change in policy, but it is being billed as one. Twitter wants in on the ad action, and 9/10/2009 marks the crossing of the Rubicon.

Another important thing for twitterers to remember: There is a follow limit.

If you follow too many people, there is no way you can keep up with everyone’s updates in your home page.  If you’re following more than 2000 people, you’re missing quite a few updates from many people you follow.  You can view a profile page to catch up with someone’s latest updates.

It seems to be hard and fast set at 2000, but what about the thousands of people who are following more? It is unclear how this effects everyone, but here is my analysis:

Following does not imply friendship, and Twitter is encouraging instead the use of following for listening, and the use of @ messages as a more proper way of communicating. This means that users actual relationships are entirely informal as far as the system is concerned (an interesting choice) and given that Tweekdeck automatically searches for ‘@yourname’ messages it is actually pointless to follow people you don’t want to hear from unless they address you.

This doesn’t address the issue of social pecking order, of personal pride and prestige, but I would (almost) say Twitter is getting themselves out of the business of providing it.

If you want to hear from me, give me a shout at @riverc. Or you can hit up Ron at @diamondbuyer or any of us at @samuelsonsrocks. Nothing to it.

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