Twitter version of Facebook Connect is coming

Ronny Kerr · January 15, 2010 · Short URL:

Users will soon be able to log in and tweet through third-party sites with Twitter identity

Twitter ConnectFollowing in the footsteps of its social networking bigger brother, Twitter will soon be launching a Facebook Connect-like set of tools that will enable third-party Web sites and services to directly integrate the microblogging site's features, accessible when a user inputs his or her Twitter identity.

The product, which will be based in open standards, will allow for authentication of users and data exchange between Twitter and the third-party sites.

As anyone familiar with the openness of the Twitter API might have guessed, these kinds of interactions have always been possible. However, in providing a set of tools like Facebook Connect, Twitter will be easing the process for publishers.

Since Facebook first revealed it in May 2008, Facebook Connect has matched the ongoing growth of the social site it represents, and has now extended to 80,000 Web sites. Each month, 60 million of Facebook's 350 million worldwide users are taking advantage of the service.

As a testament to the immense utility and benefit that third-party sites see in attracting Facebook users, even MySpace, once itself the king of social networking, has just started enabling Facebook Connect on its Fan Video service.

Starting in the last few months of 2009, Twitter suffered a stark plateau in its growth rate, leading everyone to wonder what the site could or would do to help spur exponential growth of the kind that Twitter experienced in the first half of 2009. Perhaps "Twitter Connect" is just one of a few tricks that the company has up its sleeve for 2010, but nobody can really say at this point how much such a service will help the site grow.

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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.


What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.