Twitter has increased the range of partners whose content can appear directly in our streams and called the feature “expanded tweets” but is there a risk it could create a content split?
UPDATE: Don’t know how I missed this part but “Twitter Cards” will essentially make this post redundant. You can find out how to configure them at AJ Kohn’s blog here: Twitter Cards are Rich Snippets for Tweets but they are still restricted and you must apply to particpate.
As soon as twitter announced expanded tweets I knew I wanted them for my blog but they are only available to specific partner sites such as the New York Times. I have been thinking about them ever since and wonder if they go far enough.
Just as we have been expanding tweets to view images and videos from certain content partners like Instagram and YouTube so the new expanded tweets will offer article previews with the headline, introduction and perhaps related Twitter accounts. As Dave Meyer says over at Giga.om this is effectively “throwing a lifeline to the content industry” by providing greater exposure and promoting click-throughs.
While certain content negates the need for users to leave the Twitter interface perhaps Mathew Ingram’s fears may be a little unfounded as expanded tweets will not contain sufficient content to avoid the need to click back to the source article.
I do, however, agree that expanded tweets are a double edged sword with regards to Twitter having ultimate control over the content displayed by virtue of those sites that are made partners.
Twitter has long been criticised for not implementing metadata in tweets and have instead chosen a different path.
Expanded tweets are designed to offer a more interactive experience but what if this was extended beyond certain partners and became a standard part of the tweet framework ? It would make for a much more immersive service.
Being an ever vocal advocate of the open web Dave Winer has expressed concerns about the proprietary nature of the expanded tweets platform and will lead to a content imbalance as only larger, established news organisations will be chosen.
How could this be changed?
Perhaps as well as using a proprietary system for a very rich experience (we don’t know if this is a paid service) Twitter could also employ an existing web standard to open things up to others. This would create a two tier system but still allow for “non-approved” sites to provide meta data for expanded tweets.
One particular method that would be ideal is schema.org markup which is already used to provide data to search engines such as Bing, Yahoo and Google. In fact, schema markup is one of the ways that sites can generate Rich Snippets for easy sharing in to Google+.
While sponsored by Microsoft, Yahoo, Google and Yandex, schema.org markup is a collaboration so Twitter need not get concerned about getting in to bed directly with Google or other individual entity whilst providing site owners with a standard format for marking up sites to provide the maximum utility.
Perhaps Twitter could make such a function available via the API but I doubt it.
What do you think?
Why not discuss this on Google+