Twitter is NOT a social network – I agree

Earlier this month, at Nokia World 2010, Kevin Thau finally openly confirmed that Twitter is no longer a social network.  While this seems to have come as a shock to a lot of people, I couldn’t agree with Kevin more.

When I first joined Twitter, it promised to allow me to communicate with my friends in quick short messages.  It offered itself as a micro blogging site.

Today, it no longer mentions my friends.  Instead, it promises to deliver short, timely messages from so-and-so.  It is irrelevant whether I even know this so-and-so.

Twitter has become a place for people to vie for followers and promote their websites, blogs, companies and, finally, themselves.  It is also a major source of news.   And, at times, a vehicle to communicate directly with the companies that are willing to listen and engage.

Clearly, the focus of Twitter has changed from what it started off as.

How do you use it?  Is it still a vehicle to communicate with friends or do you find yourself consuming information more than contributing to the conversation?

Has this change in direction turned you off Twitter?

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3 Responses

  1. What is the definition of social media? According to Wikipedia it is “a social structure made up of individuals (or organizations) called ‘nodes’ which are tied (connected) by one or more specific type of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, common interest, financial exchange, dislikes, sexual relationships, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige”. I argue that if we agree with this definition, we should classify Twitter as a social network.

    Thau said “Twitter is not a social network, adding that it is for news, content, and information, according to ReadWriteWeb”. These assertions do not fall out of the scope of the aforementioned definition. Certainly individuals (people who read the news) that are connected via common interest (making sense of the news) fall within the category of a social network.

    Still don’t believe me? Even if Twitter was only used for Tweeting news stories (which it’s not – it’s used for much more then that) there are dialogues that surround news stores as people rely on the constant posting of comments or questions on aspects about the news. There is an interaction that takes place among people that rely on others to make sense out of what they read.

  2. Laura, you crossed the terms of social media and social network. The Wikipedia definition you quoted is that of social network, not media.

    Twitter falls into the social media category for sure. But I don’t believe it to qualify as a social network. The Wikipedia’s definition is so broad as to become meaningless. It is much akin to the old theory that everyone is only 3 levels removed from each other.

    Social networks are supposed to be built on common interests or friendship. The Twitter networks are built on people randomly following you in hopes that you will follow them back and then barraging you with self promotion. Look at self-proclaimed social media gurus like Guy Kawasaki. When was the last time he actually engaged in an exchange with anyone on Twitter? All his account does it promote “cute” tidbits of information that point back to his own website in order to generate traffic.
    That’s not a social network. That’s no different than a CNN reporter publishing an article on CNN.com.

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