Why Google’s takeover of Twitter is inevitable

TWITTER

When I started using social media about 8-9 years ago, Facebook and Twitter were largely equal in their cool factor. In fact, while it was not obvious what Facebook was (a more intrusive form of Orkut, anyone?), the possibilities of Twitter seemed as limitless as the places where your ‘contacts’ lived.

Over the next nine years, Facebook evolved rapidly, moving from the a intrusive form of Orkut to my primary source of news, my primary way of organizing contacts and of late, my primary method of remaining in touch with people who share my interests. It also tried, without much success in my case, to be my primary messaging platform too.

Meanwhile, Twitter — which started out as the best way to keep in touch with what’s happening around the world — became too overpowering as the number of accounts I followed increased. While Facebook used algorithms to ensure that I’m not overwhelmed by posts, Twitter retained the unadulterated, chronological feed system far longer.

Besides, Twitter remained a place for political discussions, news and ideological battles, while Facebook evolved from a space for personal conversations to one that encompassed both the personal and the political, especially after the popularization of groups.

With Facebook’s focus on algorithmic filtration of my timeline to bring up only the most popular, most appreciated posts, I started spending more and more time on Mark Zuckerberg’s product and less on.. wait, who owns Twitter did you say?

This is not to lower the importance of Twitter, or to suggest that it should try to get my uncles and aunties and cousins and nephews on it.

It’s just to point out a simple fact — if you’re staying still, you’re falling behind.

Twitter, thankfully, has started making changes on its platform — allowing for photo sharing, showing excerpts, multimedia and summaries of links, and of course, using software to ‘bring up’ posts that are driving more engagement and push down those that are not.

WHAT IS TWITTER’S PLACE?

All this leads us to a crucial question. If Facebook can do everything Twitter can, and then some, does Twitter need to exist?

The answer is Yes, because Facebook cannot do everything that Twitter can.

At a fundamental level, Facebook cannot provide anonymity or protection to its users from online and offline abuse.

On the other hand, Twitter has a history of being used by those who are afraid of political persecution, or of simply rubbing their relatives and friends the wrong way with their political posts.

Secondly, Facebook is a closed platform. It is not indexed very well by Google, and Facebook’s own search reminds you of the 1990s. And it cannot change this overnight, because people expect a certain privacy as far as their posts and activities on Facebook are concerned.

Twitter has been public from day one, and Twitter users are fully okay with, (in fact, they crave) full publicity.

In that sense, Twitter and Google are made for each other. While one provides an unnvervingly vast ocean of thoughts, comments and human sentiment, the other has built a reputation for taming the unwieldy and extracting order out of chaos.

While users of Facebook are unlikely to appreciate Google’s indexation of their posts, the vast majority of those on Twitter would appreciate it.

MAKING GOOGLE HUMAN

On its part, Google could use the human element of Twitter to bolster its machine-led search process.

One of the reasons why I read a lot of news on Facebook is because those posts are filtered by my friends (and people who think like me) as being of potential interest to me. It’s easy, and most of the time, it works.

And while Google does do a good job of static or algorithm-based prioritization, the human element is nowhere close to what a Facebook feed provides.

With Twitter, Google can tailor its search results based on the kind of posts and content that is popular in the person’s Twitter circles. It can give a higher weightage to an article that has been shared by someone the searcher follows on Twitter. It can also give greater weightage to articles or results that are starting to go viral (though this part can be done without taking over Twitter as well.)

BENEFIT TO TWITTER

Twitter stock price since IPO (source:Google)
Twitter stock price since IPO (source:Google)

And let’s face it — Twitter needs the infusion of some sophisticated software talent if it is break out of its rather set service, and staid image.

What it needs to do is not become another Facebook — that slot is already taken. But it needs to capitalize on its key strength — a public network whose virality and reach is unconstrained by privacy concerns.

Another important reason for a merger with Google is that Twitter, by itself, cannot stand up to the Facebook juggernaut.

Of course, the Twitter management is unlikely to accept such a conclusion. But it’s only a matter of time before Facebook cracks manages to find the secret formula to providing perfect searchability and its accompanying higher virality without violating people’s privacy.

And at that point, both Google and Twitter will  have a lot to worry about. By any yardstick, it’s better to worry about it now, than when its fait accompli.



Idea Cellular – Vodafone merger announcement soon? Idea Spectrum HoldingIdea Cellular has put off the trimonthly meeting of its board of directors scheduled to take place tomorrow, raising speculation that it may soon announce a merger or deal with Vodafone India.The meeting was supposed to take on-board results  of the telecom operators' working the three months from October to December.After t...
Ramco Systems wins big deal from Panasonic Malaysia Ramco Systems, the Chennai-based cloud services provider, has inked a "multi-million-dollar deal" with Panasonic Group of companies in Malaysia to digitize HR and Payroll operations for its nearly 20,000 employees.The contract marks a major win for the company. Typically, cloud contracts tend to be small sized affairs, but the Panasonic deal is one o...
Tata Steel acquires Brahmani River Pellets at Rs 900 cr EV Tata Steel Limited said that it has executed definitive agreements to acquire 100% equity shares of Brahmani River Pellets Limited (BRPL) from Aryan Mining and Trading Corpn Private Limited (AMTC) and other companies in the Moorgate Industries Group (MIG).The transaction is based on an enterprise value of Rs. 900 crores plus closing adjustments and ...
BSNL offers email IDs in Hindi and other Indian languages BSNL has introduced a free e-mail service for its broadband users based on its डाटावन.भारत domain name.As a result, it is possible for a customer to now have an complete email address in Hindi.“It's now possible in every part of India to have an email address in their own language and communicate in preferred language”, said Anupam Shrivastav, Ma...
Reliance Communications sells its towers to Brookfield for $1.6 bln Reliance Communications Ltd announced the signing of binding agreements with Brookfield Infrastructure for the sale of nationwide tower assets to Brookfield Infrastructure Partners LP and its institutional partners.RCOM will receive an upfront cash payment of Rs. 11,000 crore (US$ 1.6 billion).RCOM will also receive Class B non-voting shares in t...
BSNL to launch Gigafiber plans, slash FTTH tariff to counter Reliance Jio BSNL CMD interacting with consumersState-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd will launch Gigafiber plans with speeds of over 1,000 Mbps to counter the threat from players like Reliance Jio, the head of the organisation said today."We have a similar strategy and soon we are going to come up with Gigabit OFC connection to customers in select locations," BS...
Cipla redraws Iran plans with new agreement, to invest Rs 121 cr Cipla said its wholly owned subsidiary of the Company in Netherlands will set up a 75% joint venture with Ahran Tejarat Company for manufacturing and marketing of pharmaceutical products in Iran.An earlier agreement executed by the Company with the Iranian firm has been terminated.The total investment will be euro 16.875 million, which comes to about...
Ramco Systems wins contract from Philippines Logistics co Chennai-based Ramco Systems has won a new client for its HR & Payroll solution in the shape of LBC Express Inc, a logistics and remittance company in the Philippines.The software will be used to manage 8,000 employees, from hire to retire.LBC is the Philippines’ market leader in retail and corporate courier & cargo, money remittance, and logi...
India traffic to porn sites jumps 3-8% in November Traffic from India to major pornographic websites in the world rose sharply in November.The numbers also reveal that Indians use the Internet for accessing pornographic content more often than globally.For example, according to similarweb.com, a website that collates monthly web analytics data, there were no pornographic websites included in the li...
Indian Railways releases list of 71 stations with free Wifi, to expand to 709 The Indian Railways has released a list of 71 railways stations in India with free Wifi provided by Google and Railwire, and said the facility will be extended to 709 stations in about three years from now.In addition, several suburban stations in Mumbai -- such as Kulra, Byculla, Belapur and Panvel -- also enjoy this facility at present.Under the fr...
Anil Ambani’s Reliance Infra sells transmission assets to Adani Following on the heels of its announcement to sell its transmission assets to Adani Group, Reliance Infrastructure today said it has signed a share purchase agreement with Adani Transmission for the sale of 100% of its Western Region System Strengthening Scheme Transmission Assets."SPA for Parbati Koldam Transmission Company Limited (PKTCL) shall be exe...
Housing.com says demonetization to hit Real Estate sales: re-enters rentals Anticipating a slow down in home sales in the coming months in the wake of the crackdown on 'black money', housing.com will restart its rental classifieds business soon.The portal, which had seen an ugly spat between founder Rahul Yadav and investors two years ago, had shut its rental listing last year to focus on the more lucrative home sales segmen...
Reliance Jio Impact: Online Advertising rates decline in India in November 4G operator Reliance Jio's trial services, which started in earnest about three months ago, has disrupted the online ad industry by massively increasing the total inventory without a commensurate increase in ad budgets.INTERNET EXPLODESToday, Reliance Jio has 50 mln users who, on average use about 1 GB of data per day. This creates 50 mln GB of t...
PM Modi’s official Twitter account gets ambushed by AAP For long, the Bharatiya Janata Party held the upper hand on Twitter -- which -- along with comment boards on news websites -- forms the 'wild west' of political online campaigning in India with large-scale manipulation, 'fake' accounts, bullying and targeted attacks.Not to be outdone, the Aam Aadmi Party -- or some of its supporters -- have hit back by d...
Narendra Modi’s official Twitter account gets ambushed by AAP For long, the Bharatiya Janata Party held the upper hand on Twitter -- which -- along with comment boards on news websites -- forms the 'wild west' of political online campaigning in India with large-scale manipulation, 'fake' accounts, bullying and targeted attacks.Not to be outdone, the Aam Aadmi Party -- or some of its supporters -- have hit back by d...