Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Twitter rocks the privacy world, yet again

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Twitter continues to face recurring problem of how to make (more and more) revenue. No surprise, as this would be the central issue for any company that was started on the premise of “scale up with a bunch of customers and then maybe we can figure out how to make some cash.” So of course Twitter management looks at different ways to create revenue. However, the current plan to record and analyze every link users click, whether on the company’s web site or using one of the popular third-party applications, is a big mistake in a number of ways.

Data on what people do and want is valuable, and so Twitter rightly figured that someone would pay to know what happened. Unfortunately, that’s bad for Twitter in a number of ways:

  • Although other companies track what people click on, they have done so long enough that consumers accept it as normal. Because it just started, Twitter stands out.
  • People will assume that Twitter will spy on them and keep a dossier. (And they’re probably right.)
  • Advertisers want the data, and Twitter doesn’t have the broad advertising base to keep people at arm’s length and will have trouble preserving privacy. At least, that’s what it will seem like, and perception is what eventually rules, not reality.
  • Such a small percentage of people click on links, that data may have limited value and commercial worth.

The privacy issues are seriously big. The FTC slapped Twitter over data security, and one government after another seems bound on a privacy witch hunt. Just look at such companies as Google and Apple. [Source: BNet article]

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