Twitter has announced plans to extend the amount of information available to advertisers on its social network. Firms who pay for the service will now be able to search and analyse Twitter updates from a two year period, dating back to January 2010.The news will, without question, bring privacy concerns to the fore.
Up until now firms were only allowed to review tweets from the last 30 days. The change is remarkable, and it may mean greater clout for Twitter. The company is squeezed between Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) for advertising revenue. The uniqueness of its offering has allowed it to grow, but it has not become a major player.
Twitter is partnering with British company, Datasift, in order to offer the service. Speaking to the BBC, Tim Barker, Datasift's marketing manager said "No-one's ever done this before." The executive went on to say "It's a brand new service that we're bringing online - it's a massive technology challenge because of the amount of data that is pumped out every single day."
The era of Big Data is certainly here, and Twitter needs to get involved if it wants to compete in the twenty first century advertising market. The availability of so much information might be the big break the company needs in order to attract more advertising revenue. If useful tools to analyze data are made available, there is no telling the power of so much information.
The Executive Director of Privacy International, speaking to the BBC, said that "The fact that two years' worth of tweets can now be mined for information and the resulting 'insights' sold to businesses is a radical shift in the wrong direction." A huge swathe of history, encompassing natural disasters, revolutions, wars and economic turmoil is now available for analysis.
Big Data has offered a lot of promises to companies, though it has not yet delivered much in the way of results. New systems are constantly being developed in order to make better use of information, but there's a long way to go. One day, Twitter may be able to predict a flu outbreak, or a war. Right now, it's an interesting service for advertisers and researchers.
Twitter will no doubt seek to continue offering more and more information to advertisers in order to boost earnings. As far as privacy goes, there is none on social networks.