Friday, 16 November 2012

Twitter: here to stay

Few would dispute that Twitter is the most successful social medium around. It has over 500 million active users as of 2012, generating over 340 million tweets and handling over 1.6 billion search queries per day. The microblogging application, which enables anyone with Internet access to issue short public messages has enjoyed stunning growth that has dwarfed other digital phenomenon such as Facebook. An increasing number of companies are employing Twitter to communicate and bond with customers and employees, and an account is seeming a necessity in the digital age.

Posting on the internet is now the modern PR. As well as the social interaction twitter provides, its uses extend into business and politics. Trends are a great way of keeping up to date with current affirs, and provide a great way of gaining and sharing information. However, 140 characters is a very small quantity for such communication.

Safety and privacy are cope with well by Twitter. Cyberstalking victims can indeed use it and feel safe and secure by using some of Twitter’s privacy settings. For example, you can confirm the people that follow you, and you select who you follow, allowing you to manage your social circles.

Who owns what on Twitter is currently an issue that is the focus of a battle Twitter is waging with a New York State judge. Twitter says that it makes it clear in its terms of services that users own their content, and all that personal information. The court says Twitter does, and should hand them over when subpoenaed.

Something like Twitter is definitely here to stay. This micro-announcement service does serve two needs: to post updates with low overhead and to follow a concise stream of updates. Thus, it has become necessary not only to individuals but also companies. It is not just social media, but an essential resource: a way to keep in touch with what is happening locally, nationally and internationally. 


  1. There is an interesting issue currently affecting software developers regarding Twitter. A lot of people developed twitter clients, eg for iOS, but Twitter now wants to (re-)gain control of access to their service. Effectively they are limiting access to the stream of tweets for third party apps, shutting out such clients. This has lead to some anger on the part of developers, as Twitter wouldn't be where it is now without lots of people writing clients for it.

    There are now alternatives, such as, who are upfront about the need to make money (Twitter now injects 'sponsored tweets' into your timeline display), and they charge $50/year for subscribers. You have fewer spam/dead accounts, but also the eternal issue with social media rears its ugly face: critical mass. While most people on twitter are probably not too bothered about the client data access issue, they are unwilling to fork out money, so on you will only find a self-selected minority of developers and self-righteous people who think they own the place because they paid money for a subscription.

    Again it boils down to economy: to run a service like twitter you need to have a sustainable business model. And I don't think Twitter has that at the moment. It'll be interesting to see how it continues to develop over the next few years. One way of monetising is selling access to the 'firehose' of tweets, eg for marketing/PR companies who analyse the data for their purposes.

  2. While the facts and figures are pretty impressive, I'm not sure that I'd be one to agree that it's here to stay - at least, not in so far as Twitter itself will be permanent. There are plenty of online trends that come and go, and if Twitter continues to evolve as demand changes, then it may do well - but whether or not it's permanent, I'm not sure if that's possible to say, especially not so early on.

    In reply to the above comment, the commercialisation of Twitter (and, indeed, social media in general) is an issue that has been raised by many people, of course, and often with the point that while there are many commercial - and indeed, "PR" - applications for social networking, the fact remains that it's still mostly used for fun.

    There are also some other issues with Twitter that seem to be at odds with many groups or principles of the internet communities (other than simply resistance to advertising, of course): Twitter is used by all sorts of people, and as social networking was used in orchestrating the riots in 2011, it is also used, for instance, by members of the 'Occupy' movement and can be used to identify these protesters when their personal information is requested by authorities. Naturally, no-one would disagree that authorities should be able to request identifying information to aid prosecution of people breaking the law, but it does raise issues of the data that social networking sites collect and store and exactly how identifiable that can be. Sites like Facebook and Google have begun to offer an option to download the data that they store on you, for instance, and at times, the amount can be quite staggering.

  3. I agree with Chloe: I'm unsure Twitter is here to stay. The more commercialised Twitter becomes, the less appealing it will become to the General Public. Not just this and the aforementioned opinions that Twitter does not appear to have an effective business model etc but I feel all social media sites have a lifespan, and Twitter will reach the end of this just as Piczo and Bebo of previous years. The internet provides a forum for unlimited opportunities and modern society has an unquenchable desire for something new: it may take a few years from now but soon another 'better' way of communicating will come along and take the crown that, for our generation at least, I feel has been removed from Facebook.

  4. While in the short term Twitter is I would argue one of the most popular and current social media site, like both Lauren and Chloe I believe that is not a long term trend. As well as the above points such as the internet providing endless opportunities for new sites and privacy, there has also been much debate and controversy surrounding the new trend of 'trolling' on Twitter. Recent celebrities such as Tom Daley and Adele have become victims to cyber trolls on Twitter as well as the everyday user, and this has caused the public to re-evaluate the safety of the social media site.

    I also agree with the above statement that many similar forums to Twitter have come and gone (think back to sites such as Bebo, Myspace, Piczo) and so with Twitter being one of the more recent creations it is still too early to predict it's lifespan; a celeb following however can definitely increase the lifespan of a craze.


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