Posts Tagged: Biz Stone

Will Twitter’s Geo-Tagging and Reputation Features Help Traditional Journalism?

By Ava Naves, Principal


I read a few minutes ago that Biz Stone, Twitter’s co-founder, announced in London on Thursday that, at the end of the year, Twitter will offer premium accounts with features to help businesses capitalize even more on that social network.

These features will include access to analytics data, and according to MarketingVox, “the ability to geo-tag individual tweets” as well as “tools to recognize which users have higher reputations than others”.

So… that’s got me thinking. As we all know, recent events, such as Michael Jackson’s death, and several developments during the last elections in Iran (e.g. Neda’s death), were first reported on Twitter before being confirmed by many major news outlets, including CNN. Discussions abounded with respect to the fact that the Twitter population was largely accepting as truth what some Twitter users reported, before facts could be validated through standard journalism practices.

Here’s where I see a hypothetical opportunity for reputable news outlets to vindicate themselves on Twitter: take the soon-to-come geo-tagging feature, mix it with the ability to identify users that have higher reputation (partially through the number of followers), and just for hypothesis sake, add a touch of PageRank. What do you get? The ability to pinpoint Twitter accounts that are the most reputable at a specific location. (Post-edit: I know, I know. PageRank is a Google technology, but wouldn’t it be nice?)

Let me illustrate: the New York Times Twitter profile has a PageRank 7. For those unfamiliar with the concept, PageRank is a metric that Google uses to indicate the importance and reliability of a web page (not a web site). The higher that number, the more importance Google has assigned to that page. Not only that – NY Times’ Twitter account also had, at the time of this writing, 2,107,499 followers, which is a stratospheric number reflecting the importance that Twitter users have given to updates from that account.

Then, poor New York Post has, by comparison, a measly 19,983 followers, and a PageRank 6. What if you were looking on Twitter for an authoritative news source to read about what’s happening in New York, using the geo-tagging component?

Let’s imagine a map tool on Twitter, similar to Google’s own. You would then zoom into New York City, and the service would return a list showing accounts in that area, ordered from the most reputable to the least. It’s safe to assume that The New York Times would be, if not at the top, very close to it – while the New York Post would be ranked considerably lower.

In the event of a major news event, Twitter users would refer to that map to see which accounts could be trusted in that locality. What would they see? Surprise, surprise – NY Times’ account close to the top of the list, with others ranked lower.

When Michael Jackson passed away, this would have translated as LA Times deemed as a much more trustworthy Twitter account to follow than, for example, TMZ.

Now, this doesn’t mean that Twitter users would decide to follow what the LA Times has to say instead of TMZ – but at the very least, it would be a boost to “traditional” news sources’ visibility on Twitter.

Can’t wait to see what concoctions will be coming from the Twitter kitchen at the end of the year. What about you?