Although all social networking eyes seem currently to be turned toward Facebook as it inches gingerly toward a more private model, it's actually Twitter that's having its moment in the sun. It's begun to outline just how it's going to monetize its 140-character platform, and now that more details are emerging, it's clear just how big and well-appointed Twitter's nest is going to be.
On Monday, Twitter banned third-party ad networks on its service revealed plans to take a percentage of the revenue earned by Web sites selling ads against its Twitter page. Those who created the content—the tweets—however, will not be paid. There's shades of the board game Monopoly there: Anyone who owns Park Avenue gets the money, but the guy who built the house on Park Avenue will lose out.
The slightly duff element of this, as Gawker's Valleywag blog pointed out yesterday, is that, should a writer choose to republish his tweets on his own Web site and rent the space out to advertisers, Twitter will again get a cut of the money. So, while continuing to court users, Twitter will be shutting out anyone else who's got their eye on the same pile of (so far, virtual) dollars that Twitter does.
But why shouldn't Twitter make money from a medium that it pioneered? The proof of its importance is some stats released that show it is a major referrer to online videos—with almost four times as many of its users watching tweeted video links as Facebook. (The fact that the Facebook community is a lot bigger than Twitter's must, however, be taken into account when viewing these results.) The BBC has just released a beta version of its iPlayer video service which includes allowing users to share what they're watching via Facebook and Twitter, and fellow social network LinkedIn has just taken the step of becoming a fully fledged client of Twitter.
Beeb employee Nicola Rees showed just how seriously Twitter is being taken by businesses—more so, perhaps, than Facebook—when she posted a photo taken in her Twitter class on her Twitter feed. They already understand the power that the Twitter platform can bring to it—however, it will be interesting to see what the people who use Twitter for less commercial purposes think of the prospects. Perhaps in a year's time we'll be seeing a groundswell of anti-Twitter invective on the Internet, just like we've seen this year with Facebook.