Twitter, Limits, and Transparency

It’s been widely reported in the last 24 hours or so that Twitter has imposed limits on following behavior – though some reports have gotten a bit confused. As laid out on our parent blog GigaOM, Twitter is currently limiting the number of people that you can follow (not the number of people that can follow you). The official Twitter Blog mentions this as part of their work to limit spam on the service – which work has been quite successful. So the alarm that went up over not being able to use Twitter as a broadcast service to large numbers of followers seems to be unfounded.

Nevertheless, there’s something troubling here. Though the blog post says there’s no magic number, quite a few Twitterers – including some heavy participants – report hitting the limit at 2000. Some have been trying to get the attention of Twitter management to discuss this for days, with little or no result. It’s reminiscent of Twitter’s attitude towards making money from the service, which amounts to “we have a plan, but we won’t tell you,” or to fixing issues, which seems to be “we’re working on it, leave us alone.” In a world of Web 2.0 openness, Twitter seems to be carrying traditional business values of secrecy a bit further than most.


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