Twitter–demonstrating a rather groovy ability to sense the needs of its users–is in the process of officializing the way people re-Tweet.
The news popped up on Twitter’s official blog yesterday with a post titled “Project Retweet: Phase One,” which sets out why Twitter’s trying this out: “Retweeting is a great example of Twitter teaching us what it wants to be. The open exchange of information can have a positive global impact and the more efficient dissemination of information across the entire Twitter ecosystem is something we very much want to support.” To that end, the company is working on automating the re-Tweet process with a pop-up menu, and the ability to switch off someone’s re-Tweets if you don’t care to see the news they think is interesting. There’ll be API hooks too, so developers can access the system from their software–meaning your fave desktop or smartphone Twitter client will be able to re-Tweet too.
All of this sounds great. Twitter’s strength is entirely in the flow of information from its users, and the re-Tweet habit, by which really interesting Tweets are promoted in a kind of hand-cranked viral way, has emerged as a very useful tool. By taking it official, Twitter’s also going to be making it a more powerful tool. And that’s really great.
Here’s a question, though: It’s fab that the guys inside Twitter are borrowing and improving upon this user-invented idea. Because Twitter isn’t making money yet, this can happen in an organic, customer co-creation sort of way and everyone feels good. But how will users feel about this sort of habit when Twitter has started to pull in great piles of cash? And what other emergent behaviors could Twitter grab hold of–will we see an automated #followfriday system next?
[via Twitter blog]