Twitter aims for 1 in 20 tweets to be an advert
February 12, 2015 8:39 AM   Subscribe

Twitter's Chief Sees Plenty of Money in Tweet Flow
"Twitter’s core business of selling ads that are inserted into the flow of tweets that every user sees has plenty of room to grow, [Twitter CEO Dick Costolo] said. The social network’s ideal model is for ads to make up about one in twenty tweets that the average user sees — the same level that Facebook strives for. 'We’re well below that now,' he said."
posted by alby (69 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
A new partnership with Google to include tweets in web searches will drive new traffic to Twitter’s service.

Does this mean the ability to search tweets will finally rise above the steaming pile of uselessness that it currently is?
posted by Greg Nog at 8:43 AM on February 12, 2015 [10 favorites]


Purely anecdotally, Twitter is winning big in targeted advertising. If I compare the average relevance of a Twitter advert to a Facebook advert or a (non-search) Google advert it's incredible how much more relevant and targeted the Twitter ones already appear. I think their biggest problem is not enough advertisers, I get ads which are somewhat targeted but clearly from people just trying out or experimenting with the service.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 8:46 AM on February 12, 2015


I have no* problem killing my Twitter account. I've already done it to Facebook.

*okay, I'll miss ColdChef
posted by djeo at 8:47 AM on February 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


I loathe the idea of getting ads in my twitter flow. OTOH they're doing it already. I just wish they would put them on the sidebar, not in the flow.
posted by suelac at 8:48 AM on February 12, 2015


There's plenty of room at the bottom.
posted by gwint at 8:48 AM on February 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Dick move.
posted by sidereal at 8:55 AM on February 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


If that actually happens then Twitter will become the new Myspace with a mass migration to somewhere else (and I get the feeling that people people are getting increasingly grumpy about Facebook - I've essentially stopped using for a while now)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:56 AM on February 12, 2015


Are the ads they are talking about the same as Promoted Tweets? Those already make me insane.
posted by sidereal at 8:56 AM on February 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


The Internet never tires of providing good things for free and then ruining them in order to make them sustainable, does it?
posted by murphy slaw at 8:57 AM on February 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


I bet anything that Twitter users will get over it. They didn't flock to identi.ca nor to App.net.
posted by Monochrome at 8:59 AM on February 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


Twitter is already sustainable though. They made a ton of revenue last year. If they just figure out how to make more money off each promoted tweet (and get a cut of the native advertising market) they'll be golden, without sacrificing too much usability. User engagement and growth is another issue though. Teens hate how text-heavy and searchable twitter is and are avoiding it, and if enough celebrities implode and quit a ton of the gossip mongering public will too.

Plus the ability to blow up as a writer on there has possibly passed, meaning even power users are spending time elsewhere. But perhaps someone will discover a new way to be funny or poignant in the confines of the format and a Renaissance will bloom! I hope so. I love twitter.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:07 AM on February 12, 2015


There wasn't a move to identi.ca or App.net because there was really no reason to do so. I see zero promoted Tweets, because I only interact with Twitter via a third-party app (TweetBot). So do most of the folks I know who use it.

Apps like that give you much more control over your experience. Twitter hates that.

Clearly, Twitter's overtly hostile moves against 3rd party devs is in service of this advertising approach, but it also seems clear that the quality of the Twitter experience will drop dramatically if they succeed in pushing out the Tweetbots of the world.

Lots of higher-quality participants will say "fuck it", and take others with them.
posted by uberchet at 9:09 AM on February 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


Translation: "Twitter still not making any money, has no idea how to do so."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:10 AM on February 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Twitter could die tomorrow, and after a month or two nobody would miss it except for the overpaid dweebs at Twitter and their clueless overpaid ad industry loser "parrtners". Same goes for Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Tumblr, etc., etc. etc. They are little more than 1950's TV writ large, into social media; they sell eyeballs to advertisers; they promote the over-consumption mostly useless crap.
posted by Vibrissae at 9:22 AM on February 12, 2015


I block and report (and sometimes tell to fuck off) every single Promoted Tweet I see. If everyone did that, they would change their business model.

It's not going to happen, because most people are used to and don't really mind being inundated with advertisements, everywhere.
posted by sidereal at 9:27 AM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


So, on to ello, then?
posted by GameDesignerBen at 9:27 AM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Twitter could die tomorrow, and after a month or two nobody would miss it except for the overpaid dweebs at Twitter and the clueless overpaid ad industry losers.

I gave up on twitter a few months back, partly because of the boneheaded decisions Twitter-the-company has been making about the service for years, and partly because I needed a break from the internet drama cycle, but this kind of statement always feels condescending as hell.

Pathologies it has aplenty, but I really miss twitter at its best. It was (and for some people I'm sure still is) a really great medium, and it was part of my everyday mental landscape in all sorts of ways that made me a better (or at least more aware) person for a long time.

As ever, the problem is that we aren't great at having things like twitter without building them on a centralized, for-profit infrastructure.
posted by brennen at 9:29 AM on February 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


I see zero promoted Tweets, because I only interact with Twitter via a third-party app (TweetBot). So do most of the folks I know who use it.

The obvious thing to do would be to introduce revenue-sharing for API requests that agree to include promoted Tweets. I'd be surprised if Twitter hasn't explored the idea.
posted by figurant at 9:31 AM on February 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Dear people who make a good product and then later add ads to support it: Please give me the option to just pay you directly for an ad-free experience. Ads are the pits.
posted by Hot Pastrami! at 9:37 AM on February 12, 2015 [14 favorites]




I thought they just announced recently they were going to change the way they deliver promoted tweets So they show up through third party apps.

1 in 20 might be insufferable but I can live with the way it is now, they gotta make some money somewhere to keep the lights on.
posted by TwoWordReview at 9:39 AM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


What's a good third party app for Android? I actually like Twitter's own app, but the promoted tweets drive me crazy.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:43 AM on February 12, 2015


Also, whatever about using algorithms to generate the 'here's what you missed' section, they damn well better not apply them to the general feed. I want to see what's out there, not what's selected for me. This annoys me greatly about Facebook and I'd be sad if Twitter went this way too.
posted by TwoWordReview at 9:43 AM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


uberchet: I see zero promoted Tweets, because I only interact with Twitter via a third-party app (TweetBot).

I use TweetBot for iOS and never see ads either. What's weird though is that I use TweetDeck for desktop and , according to Twitter support, as an official client it should be showing ads. If it is I'm oblivious and not noticing them at all.
posted by brundlefly at 9:49 AM on February 12, 2015


Twitter could die tomorrow, and after a month or two nobody would miss it except for the overpaid dweebs at Twitter and their clueless overpaid ad industry loser "parrtners". Same goes for Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Tumblr, etc., etc. etc

I'm not so sure. I don't really use any of them, but some people are very heavily invested in one or more and would miss them a great deal. Some people use them as a platform to sell their own products/services and network with people, and can be somewhat vital to their ability to make a living. Unless you mean they would be replaced with something else, and, well, I guess so, but look at what happened when google tried that.

Anyone know if facebook dropped that goddamned extra app to send messages to people? What is that about? That basically killed it for me, once and for all. I'm not in a hurry to give the facebook people even more personal info in exchange for a service I use like 3 times a year.
posted by Hoopo at 9:50 AM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm not so sure. I don't really use any of them, but some people are very heavily invested in one or more and would miss them a great deal. Some people use them as a platform to sell their own products/services and network with people, and can be somewhat vital to their ability to make a living. Unless you mean they would be replaced with something else, and, well, I guess so, but look at what happened when google tried that.

I don't use it for business at all but I sure as shit would miss it. Twitter is one of my go-to places for chatting with interesting people (including a ton of Mefites) and finding interesting things. I also enjoy sharing neat links that I find (Duh. I'm here, right?) and Twitter's great for that.
posted by brundlefly at 9:59 AM on February 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


I block and report (and sometimes tell to fuck off) every single Promoted Tweet I see. If everyone did that, they would change their business model.
I just found out that replying to a promoted tweet, even just with heckling, costs the promoter between 50¢ and $5. Use that as you will.
@tomscott
Every time I see a promoted tweet, I just reply "no thanks".
posted by alby at 10:00 AM on February 12, 2015 [13 favorites]


Anyone know if facebook dropped that goddamned extra app to send messages to people? What is that about? That basically killed it for me, once and for all.

I meant to say, yeah I don't understand that at all. I mean, I don't mind TOO much but I don't get what the advantage is there, for Facebook or for users.
posted by brundlefly at 10:01 AM on February 12, 2015


What's a good third party app for Android? I actually like Twitter's own app, but the promoted tweets drive me crazy

Chrysostom, I use Plume. Works fine, and I don't get the promoted tweets.
posted by suelac at 10:03 AM on February 12, 2015


The other day a friend bought a promoted tweet to promote a picture of his cat. (He didn't feel online engagement with his cat was high enough.) It was pretty great. If it was used more like that I would enjoy it.
posted by slogger at 10:11 AM on February 12, 2015 [10 favorites]


Twitter has 3,600 employees.

I still cannot figure out what Twitter does that requires even half that many people.

They are the perfect example of a company that has a simple product that is popular, and can scale upward indefinitely without encountering significant extra costs or staffing requirements.

But, for some reason, they hired three thousand more people, and bought a big building in Downtown San Francisco.
posted by schmod at 10:14 AM on February 12, 2015 [6 favorites]


The obvious thing to do would be to introduce revenue-sharing for API requests that agree to include promoted Tweets.

I dunno, the easiest thing to do would be to just require third-party apps to show promoted tweets under penalty of losing their API access.
posted by smackfu at 10:17 AM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Samsung's smart TVs are inserting unwanted ads into users' own movies
Samsung explained that these sorts of ads were supposed to be opt-in only and was working with Yahoo to improve the system.

"We are working with Yahoo to create an opt-in screen prompt specific to their service as soon as possible," Samsung told Business Insider, adding that to disable them users should "press Menu on your Samsung Remote and scroll to Smart Hub > Terms & Policy > Yahoo Privacy Policy. Scroll to 'I disagree with the Yahoo Privacy Notice' and you can toggle the option on to opt-out."
Ah, well that seems simple enough!

Also, I love the clarity and conciseness of the language used in their Privacy Agreement:
"By either selecting that I agree or by not selecting that I disagree, I agree to the Yahoo Connected TV Terms of Service available for review at [long ass URL]..."
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:18 AM on February 12, 2015


Teens hate how text-heavy...twitter is

Maybe Neal Stephenson was onto something with his "mediaglyphics" in the Diamond Age.

I would say that Twitter could have never even existed and my life would be no worse or really any different at all, but I must say that TNG Season 8 is one of my favorite things to have ever happened on the internet.

Twitter has 3,600 employees.

I still cannot figure out what Twitter does that requires even half that many people.


Fifty people who make the thing go, 3,550 people in whatever people in San Francisco call "marketing" these days?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:20 AM on February 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


They are the perfect example of a company that has a simple product that is popular, and can scale upward indefinitely without encountering significant extra costs or staffing requirements.

While I'm not going to advance an opinion on Twitter's staffing levels (I have no idea what most of those people do, and probably a lot of it is bullshit), every time someone on the internet says that a thing can easily be scaled indefinitely without incurring extra costs, a programmer or sysadmin somewhere literally bursts into ethereal flame and ascends to the next plane of being as an avatar of pure, unadulterated rage.
posted by brennen at 10:30 AM on February 12, 2015 [22 favorites]


Fifty people who make the thing go, 3,550 people in whatever people in San Francisco call "marketing" these days?

Ideation? Disruption? Something something leverage? I got nothing, and I work at a marketing agency in San Francisco.
posted by brundlefly at 10:33 AM on February 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hoopo: "Anyone know if facebook dropped that goddamned extra app to send messages to people?"

Funny story about that, actually. The iOS app harped on me about switching to Messenger for about a month, and I just ignored it, because the last damn thing i need is another SMS-like medium, and I don't use FB Chat much anyway.

Then they stopped harping on me, and the chat started working again. I never even had to update the Facebook app.

... If Twitter thinks that I'm going to suffer 1 in 20 of my tweets being an ad, they are sorely mistaken. Twitter is basically IRC, and I can just go right back there. I already block and report for spam every single promoted tweet that leaks through. (Surprisingly, there arn't really that many, and they seem to come in waves; leading me to suspect there's some kind of minimum number of these things they guarantee will get seen, but their algorithm understands that they're a waste of time for certain users.)
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 10:34 AM on February 12, 2015


brennen, it's pretty simple; if a company has a web page, or "app", and the app works on a screen that's 500 by 500 "pixels" (technical term for the front of a laptop), they only really need to double their business if the web app grows to 1000 by 1000 pixels. That's just simple math. All the rest of this is just a "bubble," like when pets dot com bought all those tulips in the 90s.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:35 AM on February 12, 2015 [8 favorites]


Twitter could die tomorrow, and after a month or two nobody would miss it except for the overpaid dweebs at Twitter and the clueless overpaid ad industry losers.

Counterpoint: Twitter is where I learned about the shooting of Michael Brown minutes after it happened, as people retweeted tweets from eye witnesses, before the police and the mainstream media had gotten their spinning sorted.

Twitter is the most diverse, unhierarchical, democratic internet medium currently existing, but what you get out of it does depend on who you follow and how you use it. People like Jeet Heer have shown that it's even possible to use Twitter to write thoughtful micro essays over tens of tweets and have them be properly interactive.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:36 AM on February 12, 2015 [12 favorites]


alby: I just found out that replying to a promoted tweet, even just with heckling, costs the promoter between 50¢ and $5. Use that as you will.

This is 100% true. It's not just replying to a promoted tweet, either. If you click on the image to make it bigger, click a link included in the tweet, all of these register as "engagements", which the company then has to pay for every single one.

Go forth! Click those picture tweets! Tap that website link!

I used to be a web & social media marketer (before my skin crawled completely off my body and I spent a year recovering in a completely unrelated industry) -- I bought LOADS of ads on Twitter and Facebook for the companies I worked for during various campaigns. We were paying somewhere to the tune of 10 cents to $1 per "engagement", because I was good at what I did, but I've seen/heard of companies paying much more than that. Not far off from the $5 quoted above.

P.S. If your online marketing manager is spending more than 2 bucks per engagement and you're not Coca-Cola, you needed to fire them, like, yesterday.
posted by Snacks at 10:36 AM on February 12, 2015 [6 favorites]


Is there a source for the teens considering Twitter text-heavy and hating it?

I would like Twitter a lot more if they stopped making the text so large, and on landscape devices, wasting so much space on the sides. That's why I like MetaFilter, in addition to the high content-per-comment ratio.
posted by halifix at 10:41 AM on February 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Counterpoint: Twitter is where I learned about the shooting of Michael Brown minutes after it happened, as people retweeted tweets from eye witnesses, before the police and the mainstream media had gotten their spinning sorted.

Similarly, when the grand jury verdict was announced, I found out where the protest was happening in my city by simply typing "STL protest" into twitter and looking at the realtime result. I was not part of the protest planning in any way; I simply searched and was able to be there within minutes.

I also would definitely not be friends with a lot of cool people if it hadn't been for twitter, nor seen a lot of cool art. Hopefully some other service would have taken this one's place if twitter had never existed, but I prefer twitter and tumblr (which seem to encourage seeking out new things and people) to facebook (which is so much more focused on relationships one already has outside of the service).
posted by Greg Nog at 10:42 AM on February 12, 2015 [5 favorites]


Mr. Costolo, Twitter’s chief executive, enthusiastically sketched out on Wednesday many of the new revenue streams the company plans to tap. During a keynote address at a technology investors conference in San Francisco hosted by Goldman Sachs, Mr. Costolo did not break a lot of new ground, but he tried to paint a picture of a company that had finally gotten its house in order after a 2014 filled with executive firings, missed product deadlines and sluggish user growth.

man, whoever pens these things must be hungry for a lesson on mixed metaphors and idioms like a chocolate cake but flying like a eagle, etc
posted by saucy_knave at 10:54 AM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


I would click on ads if I got a cut from the money the platform charges per engagement. How about half? If I got half, I'd click on ads all day, every day.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 10:55 AM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Twitter has 3,600 employees.

I still cannot figure out what Twitter does that requires even half that many people.


There's a theory that tech companies do employee grabs as a sort of stock market manipulation. When they're growing, they hire a lot of employees - more than they need - which is _proof_ that they're growing and please give us more money thanks. Then when the market turns sour they have a nice chunk of overhead to trim to restore operating margins, which helps them get back on the upslope more rapidly.

This might be overly cynical. I dunno.
posted by Kyol at 10:56 AM on February 12, 2015 [6 favorites]


saucy_knave: man, whoever pens these things must be hungry for a lesson on mixed metaphors and idioms like a chocolate cake but flying like a eagle, etc

Thomas Friedman's gotta eat.
posted by brundlefly at 10:56 AM on February 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


> Counterpoint: Twitter is where I learned about the shooting of Michael Brown minutes after it happened, as people retweeted tweets from eye witnesses, before the police and the mainstream media had gotten their spinning sorted.

Seconded. When politically problematic incidents happen, it's highly useful to hear what people on the ground have got to say.
posted by desuetude at 10:58 AM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


My time with twitter (2009-present) has been the most plugged-in to culture, politics, and everything else I've ever been in my life. Seconding that it's a view into a world where you're constantly learning about stuff and you're maybe in the first few hundred people to be exposed to it before it hits the international level; Michael Brown being just one example of many. It happens everyday with music, film and games for me as well, as I've found myself enculturated into various inner circles. I've made a bunch of friends through the service who are similarly plugged-in, opinionated, and witty. I can probably move to any major city in the country and meet up with some cool people I know through twitter. It's what metafilter is to people who love metafilter.

It's also WAY TOO GOOD. It ends up sucking up a lot of my time, frankly. My internet addiction has always been troublesome, but it's at a new level now. I'm constantly wondering what's going on in my feed. Some part of me wants it to be monetized so thoroughly that it ruins the experience, and I can dial back or leave. Maybe then I can be productive again.
posted by naju at 11:00 AM on February 12, 2015 [5 favorites]


But, for some reason, they hired three thousand more people, and bought a big building in Downtown San Francisco.

This will mark me down as a humorless pedant but: they don't own the building.

Also, fully 1/3 of those 3600 employees are engineers.
posted by asterix at 11:01 AM on February 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


People like Jeet Heer have shown that it's even possible to use Twitter to write thoughtful micro essays over tens of tweets and have them be properly interactive.

The nonhierarchical communication aspect I think is kind of cool (although really there is a hierarchy, with Twitter Inc. sitting right on top of it if no one else), but ugh, spewing out a huge collection of what used to be called sentences, now "freed" from the tyranny of paragraphs makes me disengage from what you are saying quicker than anything else. GYOFB.

This might be overly cynical.

If there is one thing I've learned, it's that it's utterly impossible to be overly cynical.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:01 AM on February 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


(And anyone who wonders what those 1200 engineers are working on: a glance at their jobs page just for SF will give you a clue.)
posted by asterix at 11:02 AM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


One of these days, some genius is going to figure-out how to monetize the actual flow of electrons in a server and all this advertising bullshit will disappear overnight.
A guy can dream...
posted by Thorzdad at 11:10 AM on February 12, 2015


every time someone on the internet says that a thing can easily be scaled indefinitely without incurring extra costs, a programmer or sysadmin somewhere literally bursts into ethereal flame and ascends to the next plane of being as an avatar of pure, unadulterated rage.

Fair, and I should know better, given that I *am* an engineer who needs to build things that work at scale.

I guess my point was that Twitter's growth problem is seemingly one of the easier ones to model and cope with, especially given that "everything is a tweet" in Twitter's data model. It's a large system, but it's also a very simple large system (which is a good thing, and I commend Twitter's engineers and designers for their restraint).

IMO, Twitter's scaling problems, while decidedly non-trivial, are a lot easier to model and understand than most large systems. Scaling twitter should arguably be easier than scaling most large web systems, and certainly be several orders of magnitude easier than scaling any sort of non-Internet business.

Case in point: Craigslist. While Craigslist's owners don't seem to be particularly interested in making money, they also maintain an immensely-popular service with a ridiculously tiny staff, and very simple network infrastructure. When you restrict the scope of the problems that you're going to solve (as Twitter has), your engineering requirements get a lot simpler.
posted by schmod at 11:15 AM on February 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


One of these days, some genius is going to figure-out how to monetize the actual flow of electrons in a server

Isn't that the power company?
posted by echo target at 11:18 AM on February 12, 2015 [5 favorites]


One of these days, some genius is going to figure-out how to monetize the actual flow of electrons in a server

As CEO Nwabudike Morgan said, I believe in his The Centauri Monopoly, energy is the currency of the future.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 11:25 AM on February 12, 2015


When you restrict the scope of the problems that you're going to solve (as Twitter has), your engineering requirements get a lot simpler.

Look at that jobs page. They're working on way more problems (and at a different scope) than people think they are.
posted by asterix at 11:32 AM on February 12, 2015


I block and report every single Promoted Tweet I see.

Me too; block and report as "Spam". I've no idea if this behavior shows up on some internal "this user really hates promoted tweets" metric at Twitter; but it's kinda satisfying. (And anecdotally it feels like I don't get a lot of promoted tweets in my timeline...)

It's not just replying to a promoted tweet, either. If you click on the image to make it bigger, click a link included in the tweet, all of these register as "engagements", which the company then has to pay for every single one. Go forth! Click those picture tweets! Tap that website link!

This is tempting. My worry, though, would be that engaging with promoted tweets simply gets you marked as "this user has good engagement rates with promoted tweets" -- which then makes you a more attractive target for being sent more of 'em.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:58 AM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


sidereal: "I block and report (and sometimes tell to fuck off) every single Promoted Tweet I see. If everyone did that, they would change their business model.

It's not going to happen, because most people are used to and don't really mind being inundated with advertisements, everywhere.
"

You too, huh?
posted by Splunge at 12:05 PM on February 12, 2015


One out of every 20 tweets! I guess Blue_Beetle's Law is true. Time to quit the free web media and go back to newspapers and magazines you pay for... and get 60%+ advertisement content.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:12 PM on February 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Twitter is one of the most vital parts of the internet, and I really hope they don't fuck it up. For those who don't "get" Twitter, that's totally cool, I can see it's not for everyone (unlike Facebook, to which it is unfavorably compared with by investors). Being not for everyone, but being the place where news is made, broken, and straight-up created every day is an amazing thing. Again, really hoping they don't blow it up with stupid ideas and bloat.
posted by cell divide at 1:12 PM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Twitter could die tomorrow, and after a month or two nobody would miss it except for the overpaid dweebs at Twitter and their clueless overpaid ad industry loser "parrtners". Same goes for Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Tumblr, etc., etc. etc

This is so laughably out of touch with reality. 1 in 7 human beings have a Facebook account. 500,000,000 tweets are sent per day. 70,000,000 posts are made to Instagram per day. 113,000,000 posts are made to Tumblr per day. 400,000,000 posts are made to Snapchat per day. Etc. Etc.
posted by sideshow at 1:21 PM on February 12, 2015 [7 favorites]


It's funny how fast people forget. Twitter itself is an example of a service like Twitter that didn't scale well after sudden growth. Fail whale anyone?
posted by smackfu at 1:51 PM on February 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Twitter could die tomorrow, and after a month or two nobody would miss it except for the overpaid dweebs at Twitter and their clueless overpaid ad industry loser "parrtners". Same goes for Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Tumblr, etc., etc. etc. They are little more than 1950's TV writ large, into social media; they sell eyeballs to advertisers; they promote the over-consumption mostly useless crap.

This is especially funny given I just read a thing about how in many countries significantly more people will say they use Facebook than will say they use "the Internet." Now I've never had a Facebook account with my real identity personally, despite being an under-30 software developer - I once asked a recruiter from Facebook if they would hire someone who wasn't on Facebook and they said "sure" - but I'm not going to bet against large numbers of people really liking their services for considerable time to come. Actually the disconnect might come between your first sentence and your last - I'm pretty sure people would riot if TV went away, at least before the Web came along.
posted by atoxyl at 3:25 PM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Case in point: Craigslist. While Craigslist's owners don't seem to be particularly interested in making money, they also maintain an immensely-popular service with a ridiculously tiny staff, and very simple network infrastructure. When you restrict the scope of the problems that you're going to solve (as Twitter has), your engineering requirements get a lot simpler.

I can't tell if you're making a very general comparison or directly equating the level of complexity inherent in the respective problems that the two companies are trying to solve -- is it not evident that what Twitter is trying to do is a lot more involved? Craigslist has a very obvious sharding axis, many fewer consistency hurdles, and comparatively minimal timing constraints. Even if everything is a tweet (and, internally, I'm sure it isn't -- metrics aren't tweets, logs aren't tweets, and those things almost certainly operate on dedicated subsystems), the simplicity of the data model is kind of orthogonal to the constraints imposed on how that data is delivered and presented.
posted by invitapriore at 6:11 PM on February 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've taken to making fun of promoted tweets that show up in my feed. (I've been using the hashtag #adriff to mark these.)

But a couple of weeks ago a group attacking PETA paid for a promoted tweet involving a picture of a dead dog fished out of a dumpster and I saw red. If someone I'm following throws carrion at me I can stop following them, but those guys effectively bribed Twitter to show me an animal corpse. Thanks a HEAP, bluebird.
posted by JHarris at 8:49 PM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


the simplicity of the data model is kind of orthogonal to the constraints imposed on how that data is delivered and presented

I'm not exactly sure I agree that it's orthogonal - I'm not sure where the data model ends and the delivery constraints start - but the gist of your comment echoes the way I read it, I guess.
posted by brennen at 10:35 PM on February 12, 2015


Is this thread over? 'Cuz I just got a Promoted Tweet for an artificial heart. I swear I am not making this up. This is targeted marketing at its finest.
posted by sidereal at 5:48 AM on February 13, 2015


Upping the ratio of promoted to real tweets isn't what concerns me. I'm more bothered by the new and enterprising methods Twitter's advertising team will doubtless invent to make promoted tweets increasingly "native."
posted by duffell at 6:55 AM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm not exactly sure I agree that it's orthogonal - I'm not sure where the data model ends and the delivery constraints start - but the gist of your comment echoes the way I read it, I guess.

Yeah, you're probably right -- maybe "roughly orthogonal" might have been a better choice, since I'm sure the data model either enables or prevents certain ways of handling that data to some extent.
posted by invitapriore at 8:34 AM on February 13, 2015


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