06 May 2009

What Happens if Microsoft Buys Twitter?

Here's a nasty meme that's beginning to swirl around:

Microsoft (MSFT) is about to finally consummate a search deal with Yahoo -- and that's great. But if Redmond really wants to carve into's Google search business over the next 10 years, it needs to offer whatever it takes -- $800 million? $1 billion? more? -- to buy Twitter right now.

Eeek - that could be problematic, and I don't just mean because Twitter is built on open source software. The idea of Microsoft controlling my twittering is too horrible to contemplate, so what could I do?

The obvious answer is move to Identica, which is free software. The only problem with that is that I would probably lose most of the people following me. No huge disaster maybe, but going from 1000 followers to zero is not the most motivating of situations.

Ideally, there would be an easy way for my followers to opt to follow me on Identica - as easy as them clicking on a link in a tweet. Anyone know if that's currently possible, and if not, whether it's even plausible? But even then, there's the question of support for Identica in Twitter clients (to say nothing of the main Twitter site).

So what would *you* do if Microsoft bought Twitter?

Follow me on Twitter @glynmoody.

12 comments:

@trevormendham said...

If a simple migration isn't currently possible I'm sure the folks at identi.ca would create a method. Microsoft buying Twitter would be a massive opportunity for them - you wouldn't be the only one jumping ship

nzlemming said...

I think we'd all go "oh crap" for a minute, but as you say there are alternatives. If people care about what you're saying, they'll move across when you let them know. Most of us have had to change email address for some reason at some point. It's only more of the same.

The trick is going to be ferreting out all the places where your Twittername is the only link people have to you.

On just such a contingency, I'm rebuilding my Google profile, so I can easily link to that, although I'll probably duplicate it on one of my own domains.

Comes down to why do you twitter? Got something to say? Or just like basking in the warm glow of the followbots? ;-)

glyn moody said...

@trevromendham: yes, that's true; it's just a question of what is possible, assuming that a MS Twitter wouldn't be exactly helpful....

glyn moody said...

The Google profile is interesting...I suppose it comes down to where you want your central point of contact.

And you're right that Twitter is not just about the number of followers, but the point is, if you feel you have something to say it's nice to have plenty of people who are listening....

Ann said...

I'd probably just stop using Twitter. I have pretty much used it with the view of using it only so long as it is useful and I'm not offended by their terms. I don't have that much invested in Twitter.

With any luck, one thing that would come out of it would be a lot more talk about the wisdom of giving data to companies in order to enjoy network effects.

glyn moody said...

Good point.

crashsystems said...

If MS were to buy Twitter, I'd probably delete my account and post only via Identi.ca (I currently dual-post with the awesome Gwibber client). For people such as you, who post awesome stuff on Twitter, I'd probably follow via pure RSS.

Here is what I would recommend for you: Make an Identi.ca account (or your own Laconica install) and start dual-posting via Gwibber. At the same time, talk up the wonderful openness of Identi.ca and regularly encourage people to make the switch. That way, if at some point you feel the need to discontinue your use of Twitter, the impact on your follower count will be minimized. Also, I know a great many Identi.ca only microbloggers that would love to receive your update.

glyn moody said...

Thanks, that's very helpful. It's close to what I've been thinking....

Algot Runeman said...

Skipped over Twitter already. Went to Identica directly.

glyn moody said...

Ah well, you're obviously ahead of me, then.

Anonymous said...

It's funny. Today I logged on to their Live.com site, and my browser (FF)'s status bar said : waiting for "twitter.com"

I wonder if it means anything

glyn moody said...

message from the future...?