Thoughts on Twitter #5: Why Twitter may catch on with young people — it’s more private than Facebook (WHAT???)


[Note: You can view all my “Thoughts on Twitter” posts displayed chronologically here: ]

When I say, “Nobody gets Twitter,” this is what I mean.

Dana Boyd (dana boyd) who — just take my word on this — has a PhD in “getting it,” wrote a short, but (as always) insightful and thought-provoking post a couple of days ago titled, “Twitter is for friends; Facebook is everybody.

Of course, the title itself is a slap-in-the-face challenge to the conventional wisdom of all those who believe they get Twitter and social networking. To those who get Twitter (I purposely don’t), it is supposed to be very public and all about having as many followers as possible so you can use it for 10 Different Ways to Build Your Brand or something.

To those who get social networking, young people don’t use Twitter because they prefer Facebook’s status update — because it’s something only their friends see — and not their parents.

But Dana writes of a conversation she had with some extremely tech-savvy high school seniors including one named Dylan who said:

“as for twitter, we are totally not representative, but ya a lot of people use twitter. it’s funny because the way they are using it is not the way most do… they make private accounts and little sub-communities form. like cliques, basically. so they can post stuff they don’t want people on fb to see, since fb is everybody. it’s odd, because the way i see it get used with my friends is totally contradictory to what everyone is saying. people seem to think teens hate twitter because it’s totally public, but the converse is actually true. but it’s not everyone… probably 10-15% at most.”


Twitter’s little “protect your tweets” feature is something that people who get Twitter probably don’t get.

I know of at least one person who reads this blog who has two Twitter accounts for precisely this reason.

For her, there is a public reason for using Twitter. And a private reason.

She figured it out a long time ago, but because I don’t get Twitter, I’m just now appreciating how savvy she has been in understanding that, at least with one of her Twitter usernames, the coolest thing about Twitter is how few followers she has.