Facebook, as far as I know, has never showed all updates to all the people who follow you.
There’s always been an assumption that Twitter does show all your updates to all the people who follow you, but how could you know? It’s really something only they know. My guess is that they don’t either. It certainly would be consistent with all their past policies.
We like to believe that our Internet services are like the Internet itself — basically fair. But they are run by tech industry insiders, and they are not fair. Not even close.
There was a time, not long ago, when Twitter dramatically inflated the follower counts of their personal friends, or press people they wanted good coverage from. Not by small amounts — by hundreds of thousands of followers. Up till that point we sort of assumed they were trying to run a level playing field. It was at that point we learned they were not, in any way, trying to.
Here’s a nightmare scenario for our friends in the media business, and these days almost everyone is in the media business, including Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA team.
1. More and more people depend on Twitter to show them the news. Other forms dry up. People stop going to home pages. Stop getting email alerts. Stop subscribing to RSS feeds.
2. Big networks like CNN and NBC direct their viewers to follow them on Twitter. When NBC runs the Olympics, there’s a Twitter icon on the screen a large percentage of the time. Twitter has become like a public thing, like the web.
3. Twitter expands beyond the 140 character limit, for certain publications, at first they’re liberal about who’s included. And the first moves are small. Instead of a 140 character limit, there’s now a 200 character limit. You can include a picture or a video, but not both. This is viewed without any ads on the Twitter site. More people don’t bother going to the site to read the full story because they just wanted the synopsis anyway, or the picture.
4. Now Twitter expands the limit beyond 200 characters. Full “long form” articles are now viewable directly on the Twitter site. They want to keep everyone on their site as much as possible. Now Mr or Ms Media Exec, what do you do? Do you go with them or not? But wait — it gets better!
5. Off-site content gets a big warning about viruses and other malware. Be careful clicking on this link.
6. Twitter, Inc, now worth $85 billion, buys the Washington Post, NY Times and NBC News.
7. You’re not sure if they’re showing your stories to your followers. You start to suspect that when the user clicks on your story they show them their version of the story.
8. You threaten to pull all your content.
9. Twitter says okay. Don’t slam the door on your way out.
I know this is just one scenario. It could turn out that Twitter is not a media company at all. They just look like one because I have a vivid imagination. You want to bet on that? Well, you are betting on that.
I think the media industry is as clued in on its future as Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan were about their chances at becoming the next President and Vice-President. I don’t think Twitter is especially clever, they’re just acting like a tech company. They’re gradually encircling all the media entities and it seems the media guys don’t have any idea it’s happening.
- Twitter is not in any way “democratic” media. They amplify some voices, a lot. Not saying they cut back others, but they could and we wouldn’t know.
- FYI — there are no equivs of Mother Jones, Esquire, NY Mag in the tech world. It’s all press releases and people gossip.
- The political pundits are too occupied with mandates and sex to look around them and see how the media has changed.