Twitter Needs: Stalking

Twitter is all the rage these days, and unlike most services I toy with I found myself sticking to this one, using it often enough to develop a sense for the landscape and fitting in in my own way. Coupled with Twitterrific I find its a comfortable mixture of always on yet unobtrusive so its not a chore to use like some other communities [or other outlets, say, blogging perhaps! hah]

And for the most part I think its a perfect and simple service. I don’t really think Twitter or Twitterrific need to get tricked out with added features or bells and whistles, and I typically find myself thinking I would be less inclined to use a service it changed to accommodate some of the things I’ve seen proposed.

But let me shove that sentiment aside to add my own feature request to the mix. As twittered:

placenamehere thinking that twitter needs a new privacy setting so you can watch bots/corporate feeds without granting them the right to watch you

I figured I’d break out of the 140 character limit, as well as my privacy settings, to expand on that desire some. My twits are currently set so that only those I’ve added or accepted as friends can see them if for little reason then I don’t think what I post is generally meaningful to the world at large — hell, its probably rarely meaningful to my ‘friends’ for that matter.

Anywho, regardless of why I’ve chosen the setting I have, the setting is available, and the system does a pretty good job of supporting the notion that some people like a more controlled posting environment then others. Though twitter is set up with a simple notion of either being a friend or not, there are plenty of levels of granularity of friends and family and coworkers that could be implemented, but this isn’t a request to depart from the simple [that isn’t my intent at least]. At the core I’m happy with the singular flag to represent relationships, but as twitter has grown a new character type has appeared inside the space — the announcement service or corporate account.

One can now watch users like Twitterrific, Magnolia and WHATWG for updates on their services, or keep an eye on ‘celebrities’ like John Edwards. While probably not the original intent of the system, it seems to be more common every day, and I’ve found that with trivial information its a better forum then the alternatives such as an unread item in my RSS feed reader.

You see where I’m going with this by now, I’m sure. My desire to watch these very public and often shared accounts directly clashes with my desire to keep my own twitters private. If these accounts were individuals what I’m looking to do might be considered stalking. And even though I’m fairly liberal about who I consider my ‘friend’ [my list is filled with folks who are separated by a degree or two and sometimes three] opening that door and letting corporations in crosses a new threshold that I’ve been quite hesitant to cross.

How this new feature might be implemented I don’t have a strong feeling about. About anything that accomplishes the task would be ok with me. Two ideas off the top of my head would be a new account type for those registering not as individuals but as a service or product with its own set of privacy features, or a new ability to ‘stalk’ any public user without being their friend [I can so now just by refreshing the web page]. Not sure what the best, least disruptive implementation would be, just wanted to articulate the issue that I think needs to be solved.

Comments Temporarily(?) Removed