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Twitter Is a Social Media Platform, Not a Social Network

Smart piece by Will Oremus for Slate:

But Wall Street — along with everyone else who’s down on Twitter because it has “a growth problem” — is making a mistake by comparing it to Facebook. Twitter is not a social network. Not primarily, anyway. It’s better described as a social media platform, with the emphasis on “media platform.” And media platforms should not be judged by the same metrics as social networks.

Social networks connect people with one another. Those connections tend to be reciprocal. Facebook even checks in on you now and then to make sure you’ve actually met the folks who are sending you friend requests. As a social network, its chief function is to help friends, family, and acquaintances keep in touch.

Media platforms, by contrast, connect publishers with their public. Those connections tend not to be reciprocal. One Twitter user may be followed by millions of strangers whom she feels no obligation to follow back, any more than an evening news anchor feels the need to check in with each of her viewers every night at 6.

See also: Nitasha Tiku writing for Valleywag on Twitter and “monthly active users” as a metric for its growth.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014