Twitter Still Seeks Cooperation From Facebook

Evan Williams, Twitter’s co-founder, said Wednesday that it is frustrating that Facebook will not let Twitter users look up friends on Facebook or send Facebook posts to Twitter.

Mr. Williams was responding to a question from John Battelle, co-founder of the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco where Mr. Williams was a guest speaker. A recurring theme during the conference has been the lack of cooperation between Web companies, particularly over sharing social information between sites.

“Sure,” Mr. Williams said in response to a question about whether he was frustrated. “We like our users to be able to tap into Facebook to make their Twitter experience better.”

But he said he understands Facebook’s reluctance and that the two companies are talking.

“They see their social graph as their core asset, and they want to make sure there’s a win-win relationship with anybody who accesses it,” he said. “We’re talking to them often to see if there is a way to work together, but so far neither side has found out a way to do that other than what we’ve done already.”

Mr. Williams also said that Twitter calculates a reputation score for all its users. Asked whether Twitter would make the scores public, he compared it to Google’s secret PageRank scores, which inform its search results.

“I think it’d be really cool to make it public,” he said. “The problem is it’s kind of like making PageRank public — it would be gamed.”

As for new Twitter products coming soon, he said the company is very focused on surfacing the most relevant posts among the ever-growing sea of posts.

“We have this treasure of too much information, and that’s very empowering and helps us all, but it’s clearly becoming more and more of a problem,” he said.

“There’s a hundred million tweets a day,” he said, and Twitter is trying to answer the question: “Which ones matter to you?”

Mr. Williams also spoke about Twitter’s partnership, announced Wednesday, with Gnip, a social media analytics company. Gnip will license half the Twitter posts in the live Twitter stream to companies that want to use them for analysis, but not to display the posts.

Twitter already licenses the stream to companies that display it, including Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.

“We’ve gotten demand from companies that want to look at this data to learn about trends and analytics for marketers and other companies,” Mr. Williams said. “There’s a million ways to slice and dice this data and a lot of companies in that business and we’re not really in that business,” which is why Twitter is working with Gnip.

 

Copyright 2011 by The New York Times

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