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NO! It's not just Twitter [updated]

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I first published this article back on June 25, 2010, and it's even more relevant today than it was back then.

If your Twitter profile is set to private, you can ignore this post. It doesn't apply to you.

If your Twitter profile is public, please take heed. It's actually something you should seriously consider.

Every time I see a tweet, or someone's Twitter bio, that says something like, "It's only Twitter. It's no big deal," it makes me itch!

NO! It's NOT just Twitter!

It's called the public timeline for a reason.

Every one of your tweets gets a unique identification number and that number, associated with your words, becomes a link on the web. Search engines, like Google, and many third-party Twitter tools use your tweets to create content for their websites.

Do you want the content you create today to be associated with you for years to come?

Try this:

  1. Bring up a search site, like Google or Yahoo! or MSN Search or any other search engine.
  2. Type your Twitter handle (with the @ symbol for one search and without it for another) into the search field.

Unless your Twitter account has been dormant for many months and/or you have never sent out a single tweet, you should see several different sites and applications that have cataloged your tweets.

Notice that your tweets and Twitter handle are being used by others to promote their own agendas. Even television shows are using your tweets to show what people are saying about this or that event or situation. These may be sites you've never visited or even heard of, and they may be television shows that you've never seen or would never watch.

How can they do this?

They're taking advantage of the public timeline. Remember that. Twitter is extremely generous with its API, and even a web novice can create a Twitter application, especially when Twitter offers step-by-step instructions to walk you through the process.

Also, keep in mind that Twitter "gifted" the entire Twitter archive to the Library of Congress, and the Library of Congress has been working diligently to make the archive available for research purposes.

So... keep thinking it's just Twitter and no big deal. Time and history will prove you wrong very soon.


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