Sales of data accounts for merely $70 million of Twitter’s gross income of $1.3 billion. The majority of earnings come courtesy of advertisements on the social network. Plans are in place to boost that meager share of $70 million following the acquisition of Chris Moody’s Gnip, an analytics corporation for $130 million. Thus, it’s no surprise that Twitter is putting up a plethora of tweets for sale to data miners.
Twitter suggests that the idea behind the sale is not purely commercial as the tweets will also be available to academia for studies as well as police authorities for crowd control. Academics in Pakistan could certainly use tweets to ascertain people’s buying habits for use in online surveys. Similarly, they could determine if online presence of renowned Pakistani actors and players has an effect on their popularity among fans.
Chris Moody, Twitter data strategy chief, said:
Having your information out in the open like that does evoke ethical risks. I believe it’s important to appreciate that the social network enables us to understand others in context like never before.
People find it relieving to share their opinions and let the world know what goes on in their lives, it’s the extent of it that varies from one to another.
For some people, the world is their audience; for others it is simply people they follow and their own followers. Anyone who has the rudimentary knowledge regarding Twitter would appreciate that while one can’t control who follows them, one still has the ability to block unwelcome contact. Some subtleties are easy to infer such as a hashtag used would imply a tweet meant for a wide audience to view. Conversely, a tweet particularly targeted at someone would be more personal.
With the telecom sector in Pakistan on the rise, any new telecom company entering the industry can follow their audience on Twitter. Not only does it enable them to assess which customers are switching from a certain network and which 3G packages are attracting them to, say, Ufone and what kind of discount offers keep them connected with Zong. This will ultimately help them offer something that caters the taste of the majority of users.
Moreover, political parties in Pakistan could take upon Twitter to identify anti-sentiment groups and assess what aspects of their party policy triggers such resentment. Clearly, the use of social media by political parties in Pakistan is not restricted to PTI or MQM anymore but is common across most parties. This would certainly be a good opportunity not only to connect with people, understand them and convince them that they are being heard. Arguably, that’s the least that people deserve.