Will Twitter Launch A News Service? Is It An 'Information Network'?


Twitter established itself as a quiver in the modern communications arsenal, indispensable to some. Now, after Twitter co-founder Biz Stone's talk at the recent Silicon Valley Comes to Oxford event, some media reports suggest a Twitter newswire service could further be developed. It would serve up breaking information in real-time to support news agencies and media partners.

Something similar to a real-time Associated Press newswire service for agencies and partners would encourage those on Twitter to report on breaking news stories. Twitter would automatically pass on the information to its media partners. Evidently, Stone believes the social media site should serve as a news source and would work alongside major media organizations worldwide to accomplish the task.

Forrester Research Analyst Augie Ray says those at Twitter repeatedly note it is an information network, not a social network. "With so many news organizations offering news streams in real-time, it isn't immediately clear what additional role Twitter could play in news reporting or how it would aid individuals or news organizations to better report the news or monetize it," he says.



While the possibilities for a real-time newswire service might exist, most news agencies already monitor Twitter for breaking news, but the biggest problem has been validating information. Twitter faced criticism in the past when users reported untruths about deaths. For example, a Twitter user reported Patrick Swayze dead long before the actor actually passed on.

The Twitter stream of information goes both ways. Most news agencies already tweet headlines and links to articles and videos on individual streams, but aggregating the feeds and organizing them into a news section on the service would expand Stone's idea further. And what if users could not only pick and choose those to follow, but file away the story content most interesting to them? Allowing Twitter users to separate the streams into folders would give them the ability to access news information quickly and set apart the confirmed reports from buzz sent by friends and acquaintances.

Stone in 2006 blogged about an RSS feed for public Twitter feeds. It's clear that Twitter began to explore news feeds long ago. Not similar to those found on Google, Yahoo or Bing, but methods to disseminate confirmed valuable information in real-time. Since then the service has come a long way.

Recently, Twitter began looking at aggregating local information such as where consumers might find the taco truck today -- the same one they ate at yesterday. Or how to cook the turkey on Thanksgiving to make sure the bird is served moist and not dried out.

Twitter on Tuesday ran a list of suggested names to follow. The list highlights information on cooking directions, inspiration from famous chefs, local eateries, trucks on the move, and even tweets about ridiculously unhealthy foods like the Pop Tart ice cream sandwich.

Earlier this month, the site also began testing syndication of Promoted Tweets, which launched in April, in the user timelines with its partner HootSuite. Twitter will watch how users react to and engage with the service before making a decision to fully roll out the service.

Taking time off from making Stoli vodka commercials by attending the conference, Stone also confirmed that Twitter has no interest in being acquired, not even for $4 billion or $5 billion, according to reports.


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