Identity Wars: Twitter Doesn’t Care Who You Are

The latest in the social media war scene is that perhaps there may not be any war at all, and that we just have been assuming there is one. What makes us think so?

Well, Twitter not only announced that they have more than 100 million active users at the moment, but they also differentiated from Facebook and Google in the most profound manner any company could have. In fact, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo tacitly made it clear that Twitter is no identity delivery business, but an information delivery business. If you wondered what these jazzy terms might mean, well it is rather simple. Facebook and Google+ thrive on your identity, and your real name.

Their policies force you to use your real identity online, which is used to grant advertisers direct or indirect access to your profile information, so that advertisers can reach who they think are the right target audience. Thus, Facebook and Google+ depend on who you are, what you do in real life, and what your identity online is. However, Twitter has made it clear that it takes just the opposite stance. It does not care who you are. Twitter does not need to know your name, what you might be doing while you are browsing or what you might want to buy, as a singular user. Instead, twitter is more interested in what you tweet, tweets are what Twitter CEO Dick Costolo refers to as ‘information’.

Tweets based on categories, interests, and trending topics would be identified by advertisers in order to provide the extremely annoying ‘promoted tweets’. Advertisers would be invited to buy targeted ‘information groups’. For instance, if your tweets contain a lot of information about psychology, body image or music (like my Twitter account), one might see advertisements in the form of promoted tweets which would be related to losing weight, Botox injections or worse, plastic surgery. That was just an example, but the crux of the matter is that Twitter would never sell your personal information to the advertisers, but would rather sell the information you would share in the form of tweets.

It does not matter to Twitter if you use an anonymous name, a pseudonym or even impersonate someone as long as you make it clear that it is a parody of the real entity. Twitter perhaps is the most democratic of all the social networks, where users build relationships with information rather than with people. Of course, when you create information or follow information that interests you, it would eventually bring you closer to people who might relate to you. The Twitter advertising model thus differs completely from Facebook and Google+, and it should put to rest many doubts that we have had about how the trip would fare in the event of an apocalyptic social media war.