Years ago, before the Web became a normal part of our culture, the idea that the Internet would become commercialized was anathema to many of the users. Limited at that time to academics, tech enthusiasts and a few others who managed to find their way onto the BBSs, Usenet discussions and other arenas, many were livid at the idea that advertisers could ever besmirch their playground.
In an e-mail yesterday to registered users, Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, announced the service's new Terms of Service, which includes a statement that "The Services may include advertisements, which may be targeted to the Content or information on the Services, queries made through the Services, or other information." A note after the paragraph adds, "We're leaving the door open for exploration in this area but we don't have anything to announce."
I did a quick search this morning on the words "Twitter ToS" to see a sampling of what people were saying. What I got vis-à-vis the advertising was, for the most part, a big shrug.
There was appreciation of the company's transparency in contacting its users and pointing out the changes that were being made. Some expressed approval of the change in the ToS that clarifies ownership of the messages published on Twitter in which Twitter emphasizes that users own their own tweets. (With the understanding that it is allowed to "use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute" the tweets as it needs to, and "make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals who partner with Twitter for the syndication, broadcast, distribution or publication of such Content on other media and services.")
There were one or two who seemed a little doubtful about the possibility of advertising. But it certainly didn't create anywhere near the upsurge of anger that, say, Amazon caused when it pulled 1984 from its Kindles.
Perhaps this simply means that tweeters are more realistic than the Internet users of 15 years ago. After all, Twitter has only recently begun announcing ways in which it means to actually monetize its service -- and without financial backing, even the best Web service will go belly-up. Or perhaps the fact that Twitter was so up-front with its introduction of the new ToS has meant they trust the company to be discreet with its advertising. Or maybe the storm simply hasn't hit yet.
Or maybe they are just too busy tweeting to care.
This story, "Twitter Changes its Rules -- So?" was originally published by Computerworld.