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Twitter's (not) level playing field
By Dave Winer on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 8:05 AM.
Whether you know it or not, you depend on Twitter being a level playing field. permalink
That tweets from reporters get the same priority a tweets from bloggers. (And as far as I know they still do.) permalink
And that reports from outside reporters get the same priority as Twitter's employee reporters. (At this time, as far as I know, Twitter doesn't have any employee reporters.) permalink
And that your blog posts get the same treatment as everyone else's.  permalink
And that last one is not true. Twitter is not a level playing field as far as where the posts come from. I just discovered this today, and was really unhappy to see what they're doing. permalink
Here's a screen shot of three recent tweets of mine. permalink
The middle one is expanded, the other two are not. They point to articles on Foreign Policy, The Verge and Technology Review, all respected publications, run by big companies.  permalink
Now here's a tweet pointing to an article from CNET. Note that instead of "Expand" it offers "View Summary."  permalink
And when I click on the View Summary link, I get a synopsis of the article. permalink
This is something that had previously applied to apps, not content. Flickr pictures were sucked into Twitter and displayed along with the tweet, but pictures posted on my site were just links. permalink
These are decisions being made by a private corporation, without explaining how or why one publication gets preferential treatment over the others. They, of course, are entitled to do this. But no one should think that this is a level playing field, that all content is treated equally, because that is not true.  permalink
BTW, it's not clear which treatment is preferrable. Would you rather have the picture on your site, where your commenting system applies, and you can count the views, and maybe show the reader an ad? But it's also clear that they are not treating the content equally. It is not a level playing field, and the basis for tilting the field is not visible. I imagine some journalism purists might argue that this already disqualifies Twitter as a platform for journalism.  permalink
Update: It's possible that Twitter is using OpenGraph tags (which I had not heard of until today). I've started a thread, if you have any information on this, please post a comment there. Thanks. permalink
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