Mar 26 2012

Can Twitter Really Be Bought?

twitter activist image

Alta A La Violencia by Rosaura Ochoa

This recent Businessweek article about the strategic purchasing options of Twitter has got me fuming, and it’s not just because I’m a Google guy.

Barry Ritholtz, a widely followed financial analyst and blogger, argues that Apple should buy Twitter, primarily because doing so would add the crucial social component that Apple still lacks, despite its growing dominance in personal electronics and entertainment.

I’ll be honest – there’s a large philosophical divide between the Apple and Google approaches to the digital age, and I now sit firmly with the search giant.  But I adored my iPods and iPhones for years, and I continue to laud the company for its vision, innovation, and ability to bring technology so effectively to so many people.

twitter bird mosaic

Twitter Follower Mosaic by Joe Lazarus

No, my biggest problem with that article is the way Twitter is discussed.  Is Twitter a cork to patch up the holes in a larger company?  Is it a shiny feature to enhance an already successful product?  What is Twitter to you?

To me it’s a platform for building communities, sharing ideas, and effecting change in the world around us.  Twitter gives a voice to the ninety-nine percent, brings social purchasing power to those with a need, and serves as a global billboard for anyone – anyone – to say, “Look at me.  What I think matters.”

Let’s not forget that Twitter (among many more examples):

  • is used to rally global support for events like the 2009-2010 Iranian election protests (“Green Revolution”) and 2011 Egyptian revolution
  • has been adopted by the Red Cross as a vital tool in disaster coverage and response for fires, earthquakes, terrorist attacks, and more
  • is successful in raising public awareness of anything from cause-based fundraising to commercial products to network television events

And perhaps the most amazing thing about Twitter is that it evolves organically with its users in real time.  During election campaigns, Twitter recruits you.  During crises, Twitter informs and organizes you.  During times of prosperity, Twitter markets and connects you.  No one tells Twitter what to be – it is what we make of it in the moment.

Twitter is the pulse of the digital age.

I realize that in our economy, everything gets bought sooner or later.  I particularly don’t want Apple – a company famous for its closed and authoritative approach to development – to own so free and fluid a thing as Twitter.  But more than that, I am pained by the thought that any company might buy Twitter to shore up its “presence in the social software end of things.”

When Twitter is bought, let it go to a company whose philosophy complements its nature.  Let it be free of a company with an agenda, rather let Twitter remain what it is: a reflection of who we are and what’s important to us at any given moment.

What does Twitter mean to you?  Do you think Twitter should be bought?

Thanks to @DvinMSM for showing me this article. Comment and share to keep the discussion going.  And subscribe via Email or RSS if you like this blog!


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