Twitter to sell old tweets, Google+ short on stickiness, and other news about social and sharing

Quick, what were you tweeting about two years ago? Twitter is selling access to public tweets dating back two years for companies that want to do market research, the BBC reports. DataSift, a U.K.-based firm that’s the first to offer the archive, says almost 1,000 companies are waiting to take a look. As the BBC article points out, this newest money-making move by Twitter isn’t sitting well with groups concerned about privacy. “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,” said Gus Hosein, executive director of Privacy International, according to the BBC.

“Users are extremely sensitive to privacy so we spent four to five months checking out the data . . . if people have deleted tweets, we make sure they stay deleted,” DataSift CEO Rob Bailey told GigaOm.

Late last year, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo seemed to indicate he was in no rush to make money or go public, according to a column by the Mercury News’ Chris O’Brien. Costolo reportedly said he wanted to “do the right things” to grow the business. Is this latest move an indication that the winds are changing at the San Francisco company? Or was it inevitable that the public musings of Twitter users would eventually be used for purposes they may not have fathomed?

• Speaking of user data, there have been questions about the worth of all the posts and tweets and photos people share online via social networks for free. CNN writes about some companies that say they’re trying to give people more control over that data. One company, Washington, D.C.-based Personal, is setting up for the day when users might want to sell their data to companies that are willing to pay for it. Amid the controversies over what companies such as Facebook, Google and more are doing with their user data, “there’s a whole perfect storm happening for companies like ours,” Personal CEO Shane Green told CNN.

• Is Green right? A report from Pew last week said users of Facebook and other social networks are scaling back on the sharing, saying “profile pruning” is on the rise. Twitter’s latest move may yet encourage more pruning, or deleting of tweets. But a report from comScore today shows Pinterest, a fairly new sharing site that allows people to “pin” just about anything they are interested in, is hot. Meanwhile, despite seeing a rise in signups, Google+ is failing to keep users engaged, according to comScore. The Wall Street Journal expands on the comScore report, quoting analysts and Google+ users alike who are underwhelmed with their experiences. Said one ad-industry executive quoted by the WSJ: Google+ “does not have the same degree of vibrancy that Facebook, Twitter or even Pinterest has at the moment.”


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  • Bryan

    “Quick, what were you tweeting about two years ago? ”

    I have no idea. Tweeting is to the body social what farting is the body physical: it’s occasionally amusing, but anything approaching real concern with in anyone over the age of 5 should be regarded as pathological.

    That said, farts clearly belong to those who produce them. Since I’m occasionally held responsible for mine, I find it reasonable to demand recompense from any company which profits from them.

    Never mind about this silly privacy nonsense: it’s time to call a thief a thief and demand payment for what’s been stolen. After all, if it’s not extremely valuable, why do corporations invest so much in stealing it?