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Adam Kleinberg

Twitter's Beacon Moment

by Adam Kleinberg

Twitter's Beacon Moment

Twitter yesterday introduced a new feature called the Activity tab on its website. It's a move reminiscent of Facebook's Beacon fiasco a year back.

Will users revolt?

Perhaps. Yesterday, I tweeted:

I do not like the new @twitter #activity tab. I don't want my followers to be alerted if I follow Paris Hilton.

I had 17 retweets. That's a lot. In means my comment resonated with people.

What's behind the Activity tab? According to Twitter it's the "favorites, follows, retweets, and more by people you follow."

In other words, if I follow Paris Hilton and you follow me, you get a message alerting you what I did.

Facebook tried to do something similar with their Beacon experiment last year. In that case, they partnered with websites to show offsite activity on your Facebook Wall. That book you just picked up on erectile disfunction on Amazon? Well, your mom, your college buddies and your junior high chemistry teacher just read about it on your Wall.

Of course, that experiment didn't go over very well. Facebook members through a collective hissy fit and Zuck pulled the plug on Beacon.

Twitter's Activity panel isn't quite as insidious as Beacon because it isn't tied to commerce or actions you take outside of Twitter. Technically, you could already see who I follow or favorite by digging into my profile. But you weren't likely to do that.

Because of Activity, I now have to think twice before I follow someone or favorite a tweet. What will my followers think? How will it impact my personal brand if I follow that little girl with the frizzy hair on The X Factor? Will it make me less cool? More cool? In a perfect world, I wouldn't give a shit what anyone thinks.

In reality? 17 retweets.

What do you think? Has Twitter gone evil?

Related Posts:

Why Twitter has Lost its Soul

A Year without Facebook

Twitter Trends and the Evolution of a Meme

What works in Social


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