Feb 282012

This morning, we learn that Twitter’s fire hose will be further and more widely monetised.  The BBC reports it thus:

UK-based Datasift is the first company to offer the archive.

Its existing customers will be able to use access “historical” tweets from today, the company said.

“No-one’s ever done this before,” Tim Barker, Datasift’s marketing manager, told the BBC.

It will, of course, as already pointed out, happen at a price:

The cost to businesses will depend on the company’s size, with Datasift’s entry-level package costing £635 ($1,000) per month for “individuals or developers”.

And whilst privacy campaigners argue the following …

“The fact that two years’ worth of tweets can now be mined for information and the resulting ‘insights’ sold to businesses is a radical shift in the wrong direction.

“Twitter has turned a social network that was meant to promote real-time global conversation into a vast market-research enterprise with unwilling, unpaid participants.”

… the marketing manager of Datasift points out that:

“The thing with Twitter that it was always created to be a public social network – which isn’t the case with Facebook which is more of a blended model. Twitter has been public from day one.

“I don’t see that this creates any new dilemmas because this information is being pushed out socially right now.

“What Datasift will do is help companies get a longer view of this and a better insight.”

To be honest, though, neither of the above parties is telling it straight on this one.  The key issue to hand is actually quite different – and is contained in one short paragraph of the BBC‘s report:

Until today, only the previous 30 days of tweets were available for companies to search. Regular users can access posts from the past seven days.

This is not a question of privacy – in fact, as far as I know, the United States’ Library of Congress has a project in place to archive and record all public tweets for posterity.  This is a question of power and hierarchy.  Of course Twitter isn’t as blended as Facebook’s walled gardens and its ever-consuming desire to take over the open web.  But it is becoming just as hierarchical in the relationship between marketeers and consumers.

If truth be told, what the privacy campaigners should really be arguing for is the same duration of search for everyone.

Which is to say, the ability to search all tweets, wherever they come from, from the very beginning of time.

On the other hand, that wouldn’t be a sustainable business model, now would it?

Never were we more at the mercy of our own tendencies to indiscretion than in this trap Twitter has cleverly set us – almost certainly from day one.


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