The value of Twitter’s social graph, and the importance of keeping others out

Thu, Aug 23, 2012


With all of the hoopla regarding Twitters new terms of service for developers, the always insightful Dustin Curtis drops some knowledge on some key, albeit subtle, differences between Facebook and Twitter.

Curtis also opines on the reasoning behind Twitter’s recent decision to pull a feature (accessible via its API) which enabled Tumblr users to search for Twitter friends who also happen to be Tumblr users.

Twitter has an enormous advantage over Facebook in one key area: while people on Facebook tend to friend their friends, people on Twitter tend to follow their interests. The following graph from Twitter is worth far more on a per-account basis because it is directly monetizable in a way that Facebook’s generally isn’t…

I suspect the reason that Twitter is cutting off apps from using its “friend finder” feature is because most people do not create content in Twitter and therefore have no incentive to use Twitter outside of the value of its graph. Unlike replicating or using the Facebook graph externally, relocating the Twitter graph can have disastrous consequences for Twitter. Lots of celebrities use Tumblr, and if you can instantly relocate your Twitter graph into Tumblr, then what value does Twitter have, other than a more restricted set of content? What about Twitter is in an even worse position than MySpace to fight off a disruptive competitor.



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